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Review: Queen and Adam Lambert, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

A triumphant first gig on the road for Queen + Adam Lambert saw fans warm to the new American vocalist

****

Queen doth protest too much. It’s time for Brian May and Roger Taylor to ditch their increasingly tiresome roles as fervent apologists for this famous band’s latest incarnation.

There’s no reason to be sorry, no need to roll out the excuses and no merit in reinforcing the party line that Adam Lambert was never meant to replace Freddy Mercury. We know. It’s old news. Let’s move on.

Be honest – the ‘new boy’ is the best thing that’s happened to this wobbling heritage act in decades. This fabulously extravagant arena show offers a glorious fusion of the past, the present and, whisper it, the future.

Lambert must cringe at the lazy comparisons that have blighted his troubled coronation and yet his well-honed cabaret act is the perfect extension of Mercury’s camp flamboyance.

Queen and Adam Lambert at the Metro Radio Arena
Queen and Adam Lambert at the Metro Radio Arena
 

There were some here actually willing the former American Idol to fail, such is the devotion to his late predecessor’s memory, but even the most hard-hearted cynics were forced to accept the 32-year-old has breathed new life into an ailing brand.

Paul Rodgers unconvincingly fronted the theatrical Queen five years ago – the accomplished blues rock legend in no position to emulate Mercury at his most eccentric. Lambert, by contrast, treads the fine line between imitation and evolution with a careful respect that does the endearing American great credit.

Tellingly, however, it was not until the beaming singer lay supping Champagne on a chaise longue – the fawning May by his side – that he finally hit his stride.

Hesitant renditions of One Vision, I Want It All and Another One Bites The Dust were a distant memory by the time Lambert lapped it up as the stereotypical Killer Queen.

Realising the heir apparent was winning over Newcastle’s initially suspicious subjects, May and Taylor sensibly shared the spotlight during an intriguing mid section.

Queen and Adam Lambert at the Metro Radio Arena
Queen and Adam Lambert at the Metro Radio Arena
 

The former delivered a heartfelt rendition of Fog On the Tyne before the latter joined forces with drummer son Rufus to take the lead on A Kind Of Magic. Sandwiched in between was the bizarre Oompa Loompa-like version of ’39 as a spaced out May indulged his wackier side.

By now Lambert was a big miss. Ironically his return coincided with a blistering version of Under Pressure: maybe he had been but 70 minutes into the first show of Queen’s UK tour confidence appeared to course through the Indiana-born entertainer.

An affecting ‘duet’ alongside a big screen Mercury only served to enhance a growing reputation as Bohemian Rhapsody brought down the curtain on an anthem-fuelled main set.

Lambert’s crowning glory was a fist-pumping blast of We Are The Champions but his victory against all odds had long since been secured. This is Queen in 2015. Get over it.

Simon Rushworth

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