Queen with Adam Lambert, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 13/02/2020

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Photo Credit: Justin Ma

It was raining.

Hard.

Constantly.

But that didn’t dampen the crowd’s expectations for a night of royal rock.

We filed into Suncorp Stadium, keen to be entertained by Queen with Adam Lambert.

Right off the bat, I’m not a Queen ‘fan’. I don’t have many of their albums and don’t really know much about the band (comparatively). But Queen has been around for so long, penning iconic tracks that have become part of the human race’s DNA. It’s impossible to not know the words and tap your foot to many of their songs. And, head bang to the guitar riff in “Bohemain Rhapsody”…

Brian May’s guitar playing was brilliantly masterful. That left hand… graceful and full of nuance… As a hack guitarist I thrilled at the subtleties of technique and the sounds that he produced. At one point those 4 fingers were using 4 different techniques simultaneously… just… wow…

I know this won’t do this next bit justice, but here goes… For an amazing 7 minutes holograms and lighting were used brilliantly, with what appeared to be a large meteor ascending from the stage, with the bottom of it tinged in flaming red and amber. Brian appeared on top it, seeming to ride this rock. He was lit from behind with a solo spotlight, as his extended guitar solo shredded, sobbed, moved us and lifted us. Small lights like shooting stars moved towards him, fading as they approached. These were subtle at first, but then because more obvious and were joined by planets and a satellite or two. It was obvious that Brian was the centre of the universe, them orbiting him and being drawn towards him, caught in the gravity of his playing.

Roger Taylor’s drumming was replete with his signature sound, gentle and rhythmic one moment, smashing the crap out of the skins the next. His solos were engaging and one in particular had me marvelling at his stamina, whilst maintaining such superb quality of sound.

Adam Lambert looked and sounded like he was born for this gig. He sauntered, swaggered and engaged in banter with the crowd. His voice was powerful, moving me to tears at some points and having me soar at others. He taunted and teased us in a cheeky manner, weaving the rain into his banter, thanking us for making him wet and apologising for his soggy bottom.

At one point he admitted that he was not Freddie Mercury. This is true. But, Adam had every right to be on stage. Freddie might not have been there in body, but he lives on…

The rain deepened the atmosphere, often giving a whole new element to the lighting and laser show. It almost added texture to the visuals and the auditory elements, making for a stunning sensory experience. At one point a disco ball was used, which swept arcs of light through the crowd. At others, laser effects shifted and capered through the air, adding a deep emotional atmosphere to the music.

“Who Wants to Love Forever” choked us up and my beautiful wife and I shed tears, as the loss of a dear family member was brought home to us again, as was the need to live in the moment. Like we were doing right then, lost in the moment, glad to be alive.

The show stopper was, not unexpectedly, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This track resonates with so many folks now, thanks to the impact of the media, movies and social media. It was performed amazingly, with footage from the original film clip seamlessly and respectfully interwoven with the live performance. Freddie was there again.

They also covered “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreak Hotel”, songs which dovetailed in nicely to the spirit of the sound and the show.

An enormous hologram of Freddie Mercury was used at one point, engaging the crown with the now famous “Eeeeeeehhhhh – ooooooh!” back and forth. Freddie was there again.

The sound was was brilliant and the lighting phenomenal. The set started with some restraint, but the momentum built into a runaway train of terrific tunes. Queen’s catalogue is impressive indeed and hearing them live had me marvelling at the quality of the songs and the passion with which they were performed.

For part of the set Brian May played a 12 string acoustic guitar at the front of the crowd, adding a sense of intimacy. Roger joined him at some points, as did did Adam, and the composition shifted for the duration of this arrangement.

The encores were “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions”. These were a fitting way to end this gig and the visual effects referenced Queens’ lion logo and the crown again.

I was regularly left spellbound, filled with wonder, enjoying the mix of music and flabbergasted at the skill of the performers. That Freddie was there, in a very respectful and loving way, was very much appreciated. We left euphoric, as Queen has rocked us well and truly.

This was a royal command performance indeed. 

Greg Noble.

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