When it was first announced that Adam Lambert of American Idol fame would be stepping into Freddie Mercury’s famed jumpsuit for a tour with the band legendary band Queen, the rock world didn’t know exactly how to respond. The similarities are there, sure. Both men are good looking, flamboyant, gay, and have ridiculous vocal ranges. But while Adam Lambert found success on a televised talent show, Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen earned their success by playing clubs and small houses before skyrocketing to astronomical success in the 1970s and 80s. Mercury shaped his stage persona into a master of showmanship over time, and at the height of Queen’s popularity, he could command hundreds of thousands of fans with a simple mic stand. Just watch his performance at 1985’s Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. Legendary.
Adam Lambert couldn’t even win the talent contest that he was part of. That was the one huge question having over this tour: Could Lambert match that unmistakable stage presence?
So far the early word is that yes, Lambert has been an excellent stand-in for what is truly a Queen concert. In the early 2000s, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company toured with the band, but fans didn’t quite take to Rodgers lack of range and showmanship and the arrangement fell apart. Lambert, according to reviews, is absolutely channeling Mercury, while still keeping true to what makes Adam Lambert appealing in his own right. As the tour treks across North America, there have even been calls for the band, which consists of guitarist and songwriter Brian May and Roger Taylor on drums, both original members (Bassist John Deacon retired in 1997), and Lambert to cut a new album of songs.
The Queen + Adam Lambert tour has been so successful that the band has added additional tour dates to accommodate fans wanting to hear the classic Queen songs like “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” played by May and Taylor and sang with the proper vocal ranges that Lambert can undoubtedly hit.
Adam Lambert hasn’t joined the band permanently, and is still working on his own music. Even he knows that he cannot replace a performer like Freddie Mercury, but in an interview with Rolling Stone, Lambert admits that he’s able to honor Mercury and still add his own flair.
“It’s not an easy feat. I think a lot of the apprehension has faded because we’ve done this a number of times in the past couple of years. That’s not to suggest I’m getting cocky at all, because I will never compare to Freddie Mercury. He’s one in a million. At this point, I know how to strike a balance between honoring the way these songs were originally meant to be sung and my own instincts, my own choices.”
And as the tour goes into its last month in North America, fans have been given a rare opportunity to see a legendary band with a frontman who absolutely knows what he’s doing, and the tour has been a raging success because of it. Thanks to Adam Lambert, this is as close to classic Queen that many younger fans will ever get.
[Image courtesy of The Calgary Sun]