Queen + Adam Lambert jam hits into two-hour concerts
Queen + Adam Lambert kicked off the second North American leg—and fifth leg overall—of their years-long Rhapsody Tour in Baltimore. Night one of two at CFG Bank Arena began at 8 pm sharp on Wednesday (Oct 4th). Tickets are still available for October 6th.
Brian May and Roger Taylor learned over a decade ago that the magic of a band called Queen is having one front the band. Adam Lambert has skyrocketed to post-American Idol fame through his powerful interpretations of these rock classics.
Like Arnel Pineda in Journey, Lambert’s killer voice and fearless stage presence rekindled interest in Queen and their music. There’s an aggressiveness mixed with campiness to Queen’s catalog that a more traditional frontman will never be able to capture. It’s no wonder this has been the band’s longest “+” collaboration.
This night in Baltimore opened with a techno-infused “Radio Gaga” with a robotic that felt prescient given the current debate on AI. Lambert emerged from behind a floating screen wearing a silver chest plate with a glimmering cape and glasses that gave a nod to another particular Gaga. Then, with a powerful stroke of May’s Red Special, the group launched into “Hammer to Fall.” Lambert delivered a juiced-up “Stone Cold Crazy” before leading the crowd in a thumping “Another One Bites the Dust.” The crowd joined Roger Taylor in keeping time to the earworm beat.
Taylor then took over, his own crystal clear voice piercing out from behind the kit on “I’m in Love with my Car.” Hearing a legend sing and play one of his own compositions clearly has the room chills.
Lambert’s voice was at its best when he reached for those high notes. Something otherworldly happens when he lets his voice run free, almost giving up control and letting his vocal cords drive him. “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Somebody to Love” are perfect examples of this lightning in a bottle. It’s the genesis of the collaboration: he’s as much a musical free spirit as the predecessor he so clearly admires.
Brian May is the guitar god’s god. Decades on, he still attacks his melodies with an envious breeze. Willie Nelson has Trigger, and May has his Red Special. They are one and the same. The playing is so next-level, it’s hard to tell where May ends and the guitar begins.
May soloed “Love of My Life” during an acoustic session. One couldn’t help but wonder if he was thinking of his late bandmate, as he sang this song of a bond lost to the cruelty of mortality.
Roger Taylor is ageless. He lives behind that kit, steadily ushering in the hits. He is so at ease, he breathes with his beats.
Together, this trio are tight and at home together. The three other touring musicians fill out the songs with bass, keys, and percussion. But they never overwhelm the two legends and their lyrical conduit. The consistently loudest ovations, though, went to the two OGs throughout the night.
But, a suggestion: ten years into this collaboration, make it official. Consulate it. Put a ring on it. Adam Lambert is as fine a steward of Freddie Mercury’s legacy. More than a voice to fill a gap, he has made the music his own and honored the legacy in the process by introducing new fans to this mammoth catalog of hits. Drop the plus sign and let Lamber be what he’s always been: the frontman of this Hall of Fame group.
It’s quite amusing that “We Will Rock You” comes toward the end of the set. It takes on the role of a victory lap, celebrating something the group just did. It is also a celebration of what Queen’s music still does—and will do for generations to come: rock your socks off.