Queen + Adam Lambert Bring the Heat to Philly

Synopsis

When Queen initially announced that they would be touring with Adam Lambert, I was quite skeptical; could Adam really even dream of living up to Freddie Mercury?  While admittedly Adam is certainly not Freddie, he truly is an astounding singer in his own right.  It was rather humbling when he proclaimed that he knew that there would only be one Freddie Mercury.  This is a show that will certainly go down in the books as one of the best that I have ever attended.

The Show

The show took place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA on July 16th, 2014.  I was able to score front row seats, and their placement gave me an amazing view of what was one of the most elaborate stage setups I have seen.  Arguably only the Rolling Stones show I attended could top this stage.  The show commenced with the curtain dropping a few verses in to “Now I’m Here,” a lesser known, but brilliant, song off of the album “Sheer Heart Attack.”  Adam sang the lyrics effortlessly, sounding amazing the entire time.  Brian May and Roger Taylor look remarkably well for their ages, 64 and 66 (at the time of writing Brian is now 67) respectively.  It was also nice to see Roger receive some help on the drums by none other than his son, Rufus.  After the more obscure opening number, Queen kicked into some of the hits that put them on the map: “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.”  The harmonies in the latter were executed perfectly, a true testament to Adam’s ability.  A bit later on, Adam lied down on a plush purple and gold couch at the end of the catwalk, performing a stunning rendition of “Killer Queen.”  Adam was really in his element here.  Following this up was another showstopper, “Somebody to Love,” which sounded as fresh as though it were written yesterday!

Towards the middle of the show, Adam left the stage for Roger and Brian to perform a quieter, more introspective set that involved many classic pictures of the late, great, Freddie Mercury.  It truly is wondrous how they honor him during the show; it is almost like he is still there performing.  [Fun fact: Last time Queen performed in Philly with Freddie was July 24th, 1982 at the now nonexistent Spectrum].  During this slower set, Brian May took to the mic for “Love of My Life,” a truly beautiful song, and the more folk-like “’39.”  Roger also got a stab at the vocals during “These Are the Days of Our Lives.”  While this little tribute was certainly fitting, the crowd was anxiously waiting the return of Adam and the spectacle that a Queen show normally encompasses.

After returning to the stage, Adam duetted with Roger on the brilliant “Under Pressure.”  That bass line has got to be one of the best in music, and get this, it is played on a real bass and not a computer – go figure!  Following this was a performance of the Freddie solo song “Love Kills,” that will soon be reworked for an upcoming Queen album (no word yet on whether or not Adam will lay down some vocal tracks on this album).  Next up was one of my favorite moments of the show; standing under a glittering disco ball at the end of the catwalk, Adam belted out “Who Wants to Live Forever” with as much emotion as Freddie did.  This song truly gave me goosebumps.

After these few songs Brian May broke into was definitely my least favorite part of the show.  While Brian is certainly an influential, pioneering guitar player, a 20-some-odd minute guitar solo is utterly unnecessary.  Most in the crowd were looking down at their phones and hoping that it would end.  It really was a buzzkill – add a song in that time (maybe two!).  Finally, everyone came back out for a powerful performance of the classic “Tie Your Mother Down,” following by arguably my favorite Queen song, “The Show Must Go On.”  Adam really put his all into this song and it showed to the amazed audience.  For the end of the main set, the ever-famous “Bohemian Rhapsody” was played, featuring a duet between Adam and Freddie on the screen.  Now this was the most brilliant tribute to Freddie of the night.  With Adam and Freddie trading off lines at the end of the song, everyone in the audience was surely emotional.

The show was rounded off with an encore performance of the anthems “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” with Adam donning a leopard print suit topped off with a large crown on his head.  Throughout the show Adam went through between 5 and 10 costume changes!  Brian and Roger went more casual with white shirts and what looked like mildly-jeweled pants.

Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly one of the best shows that I have attended.  In regards to the setlist, I really wish they would have played “Don’t Stop Me Now,” as that is one of my favorites.  I know they played it earlier on in the tour.  Why drop a song and not add anything in its place?  “You’re My Best Friend” would have been nice as well, though to a lesser extent.  Luckily, I am going to see this show again in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall on July 26th, so I look forward to providing another review and comparing the two shows!

 

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5 thoughts on “Queen + Adam Lambert Bring the Heat to Philly

  1. Great review Matt! My whole family (me,hubby, son, his wife, my grandson etc.) were there in Las Vegas for both shows and it was ROCKIN’!
    We’ve been Queen fans over 30 years and Lambert fans for 5 years. It is the PERFECT pairing! What an entertainer he is and that VOICE! My goodness! Out of this world.
    Just a little thought on the long guitar solo; Roger and Brian have long joked with each other about solos..Roger doesn’t really care for them, while Brian loves them and never seems to mind that the audience often uses that time to get a drink, go to the bathroom, grab a smoke, etc..he couldn’t care less, lol. So while some (a few) Queen fans stayed in place and were enraptured, others used the time in other ways.It was all great anyway.
    By the way, I am sorry that you went to that awful site “queenonline” and asked THOSE nimrods to read this review…there are a very few nice, sane folks there but by and large they are very disrespectful toward Brian (and to an extent Roger as well) and they seem to believe John Deacon to be a Saint because he no longer appears on stage (never mind that fact that he is, as Brian has stated “fragile” and really shuns the limelight and has done so for MANY years now, only being involved in the accounting for the band) He has always had a reputation for being “the most boring man in rock” though he IS quite talented as a songwriter and bassist.
    Also, when Deaky was in his mid-50’s, he had a midlife crisis that almost ended his marriage to his first and ONLY wife and mother of their 6 children. It involved an affair with a stripper in London, HALF his age. Yet he and Freddie are both Saints now…nothing like revisionist history I say, Haha! Anyway, I’m pretty sure the wifey doesn’t want him out touring the world either, ya know?
    I’m so very thrilled that so many of us have had the opportunity to hear this iconic music performed the way it was meant to be heard and enjoyed LIVE!
    If they do a few shows in Europe, hubby and I will be looking to make a European vacation of it! Thanks Matt! \o
    PS: Out of hundreds of rock concerts we’ve attended, this also ranks as our TOP one!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the shows so much, and thanks for reading my review and taking the time to make such a nice comment! 🙂 What a great thing to go to the show with the whole family. I went to this show with my dad, and I will be attending the show this Saturday in Atlantic City with him, my mom, and sister. The pairing between Adam and Queen truly is brilliant. When I saw them on the finale of American Idol playing together, I kind of expected for a tour to be announced. It may have taken five years, but I am happy that it finally came! Adam’s voice is just unbelievable; he does some crazy things with his vocals so effortlessly. Those are some interesting insights into the solos; it seems that Roger agrees with me LOL. The story about Deaky was also cool to read, as I had no idea about that – thanks for enlightening me! In regards to the people on QueenOnline, I was rather taken aback by the rudeness of some members, but I posted this review in the hopes that people that actually enjoy this great pairing would fight it insightful. Once again, I am glad you enjoyed my review and took the time to comment. Hopefully you can take a look at the one I will make about the show this Saturday. If they do go to Europe and you get a chance to attend some shows, I’d love to hear about them!

  2. Very nice and heartfelt review. Regarding DSMN, I think they only played it twice on this tour. This is a grueling set for Adam– pushing his vocals to the physical limit. Adding dates as they did gave them very few days off in which to rest and recover. Toward the end of the North American leg, they have also dropped TSMGO, one of the most vocally demanding songs in the set. Much as I would love to hear Adam perform both numbers every night, I would rather he not do (perhaps permanent) damage to that amazing vocal instrument of his.

    • Thanks for the comment and the kind words! I totally agree that the set is very vocally demanding; it is amazing that he is able to pull off back-to-back shows! I was sad to see TSMGO dropped, as it is my favorite Queen song, and I am seeing them again tomorrow in Atlantic City. I will certainly love the show nonetheless. I wonder why they don’t shake up the set a little each night to keep things fresh for themselves? Maybe the lighting and stage show are too complex? Thanks again for the comment, and I hope you enjoy my review of the next Queen + Adam Lambert show and future shows. 🙂

      • There is absolutely no reason to assume that dropping TSMGO has anything to do with Adam’s vocals. I don’t know why people are just plucking that reason out of thin air as if he was struggling when he is still singing all the other vocally demanding stuff anyway. The reasons for it being dropped are to do with whether they have enough TIME LEFT to finish the concert within the venues restrictions and have nothing to with Adam’s voice. Brian made that clear in his tweet about it. TSMGO is a slower number that actually drags things down to a slower pace at an odd time in the set so they drop that one in favour of more upbeat/singalong stuff if necessary. Not rocket science.

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