At The Metro Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 1, 2017

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT (Live at The Metro Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 1, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s always a tough one. Just how do you fill the shoes of one of the most iconic frontmen of one of the most successful bands in the world. It’s a question that has dogged Brian May and Roger Taylor since the passing of the legendary Freddie Mercury back in 1991.

In 2004 Queen joined forces with Bad Company and Free lead singer Paul Rodgers and toured as Queen + Paul Rodgers and featured songs from their respective catalogues. Rodgers, himself a major influence on Queen in their early days, brought a steely Bluesy edge to the songs of Queen.

When Rodgers departed to continue with his own music, Queen made a guest appearance on American Idol and first encountered a leather clad, flamboyant singer, capable of incredible vocal histrionics by the name of Adam Lambert. The connection had been made and it was only a matter of time before things happened.

With tickets for the whole UK tour snapped up in a matter of hours, the insatiable desire to see Queen back on stage proved that their first tour with Lambert in 2015 was anything but a fluke.

With a feast of options of to pick from to open the show Queen plumped for Hammer To Fall and talk about getting off to an explosive start with Metallica approved Stone Cold Crazy and Tie Your Mother Down following in quick succession, they delivered a swift knockout blow and a lesson on how to make a grand entrance.

Over the course of the next couple of hours it was hit after hit after hit from Another One Bites The Dust to Don’t Stop Me Now and Radio Ga Ga, which saw 10,000 pairs of hands shoot skyward. It’s hard to think of many other bands that could roll out a full set of major bona fide hits quite like this.

Adam Lambert had more costume changes than Kylie and probably more sequins too. He lapped it up and hammed it up especially on Fat Bottomed Girls and Bicycle Race where he rode across the stage on a pink tricycle throwing roses into the crowd and sitting atop a giant robot’s head for Killer Queen.

With an audience ranging across the generations from regular couples to leather clad bikers their appeal is wide and universal and how can you argue with the classics that range from glorious Pop of I Want To Break Free to hard hitting Rock of Stone Cold Crazy, a song showing Queen can match even the heaviest of rockers around.

Although there may be some who feel Queen should not continue without Freddie and that on one hand is understandable but wouldn’t it be a crying shame to never hear or see these songs on stage again, performed by two of the key members of that band? Seeing Brian May cranking the riffs and Roger Taylor hammering away on the drums while both adding in their own distinctive vocals to the songs is surely worth anyone’s money.

Both May and Taylor had their moments on lead vocals with May delivering a poignant Love Of My Life together with an on-screen Freddie Mercury that tugged at the heartstrings while Taylor gave a husky run through signature tune I’m In Love With My Car and later, A Kind Of Magic armed only with a tambourine.

Of course, the big question. Can Adam Lambert cut it? His performance on the haunting ballad Who Wants To Live Forever was nothing short of stunning. That was precisely the moment that you go to gigs for. Judging from the enthusiastic reaction and his command of the crowd not to mention his incredible vocals, it couldn’t be anything other than a big, emphatic, yes.

The stage show, in keeping with such a grandiose occasion, was enormous with Taylors drums sitting atop a pyramid staircase surrounded by ramps. A wrap around video screen gave a 3-D effect to some of the projections including the huge robot from the News of the World album cover who’s giant mechanical hands lifted May up high for his astronomy inspired solo.

How can they fail to leave on a high as they closed with a run of the operatic epic, Bohemian Rhapsody and the double strike of the ultimate anthems, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions ending all with a confetti storm?

Freddie may be gone but his spirit still lives on in the music of Queen and tonight they more than did him justice in a hugely enjoyable and respectful way. It’s come late in the day but Queen may well have made a last-minute grab for Metro Radio Arena’s gig of the year.

Review and Photographs By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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  1. Great review!! One correction. AL rides on a bycicle during “I want to ride my bycicle” and not “Fat bottomed girls”

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