Long ago, I had come to terms with the fact I would never see my favourite band, Queen, for obvious reasons. After Brian May and Roger Taylor joined forces with Adam Lambert for dates in America and Australia, annoyed was putting it mildly. They weren’t performing in their home country? Then, October of last year, dates were announced with Adam Lambert, including Glasgow. I accepted the fact there was no Freddie Mercury and John Deacon. Adam Lambert may butcher the songs; I didn’t care. I just wanted to see Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Jump forward a few months and fear began to set in. The band which made me a rock fan had half the original members. They hold a special place. What if they don’t live up to expectations? It would more than likely kill the love I have for the band in its entirety.
The night in question began. People began shuffling into the main hall of the Hydro just after seven and it slowly began to fill over the next hour. People of all ages were in attendance from kids to pensioners and it shows how Queen’s music endures and transcends generations. No support band. Just Queen and Adam Lambert. It was an impressive sight; a stage to ceiling curtain emblazoned with the queen crest covered the majority of the stage. A walkout into the middle of the arena and a set of stairs at each side. Slowly, the atmosphere began to build as the twenty-two minute “Reprise” from “Made in Heaven” filtered through the PA. Shortly after the expected start time, the Hydro was plunged into darkness with only the curtain lit, the crowd springing to life. Silhouettes crossed the stage as the opening strains of “One Vision” began. Brian May’s shadow appeared and the introductory riff began. The curtain disappeared into thin air and Queen blazed through the opening number, the crowd roaring their approval.
My smile which began with “One Vision” became a full-blown idiotic grin as my eyes didn’t know where to look. There was Brian May playing effortlessly on songs I listened to since childhood, Roger Taylor thumping the drums with the same energy he had thirty years ago or the captivating sight which was Adam Lambert. He hadn’t even finished the first song and I knew he was doing a fantastic job of the vocals.
Admittedly, I had been looking forward to some great deep cuts that they had been covering during their US tour but instead we were treated to a set very similar to the 1986 Wembley performance. In essence, it was Greatest Hits I and II with the occasional curveball like “Stone Cold Crazy” and a tongue-in-cheek “Killer Queen”. I was too caught up in the show to hope for them to play any certain songs.
While Freddie Mercury is irreplaceable, Adam Lambert being the fan that he is, did the right thing. He performed the songs on his own terms. He sang and cavorted across the stage in his own inimitable way. It brought new life to songs which are decades old. During his banter between songs, he paid tribute to Freddie, receiving a rapturous response. The crowd took the joke of Glasgow’s love of alcohol in good humour too.
As for Brian May and Roger Taylor, they took their own individual moments. Brian May led the typical rendition of “Love of My Life”, complete with the last verse sung by Freddie at Wembley ’86 via the large screen at the back of the stage. Brian made a couple of jokes about the selfie stick and calling the Hydro a wonderful place before paying tribute to the long-gone Apollo, receiving a cheer from those of a certain age. Roger Taylor led the vocals for an emotional “These Are The Days of Our Lives”, the screen showing all four original bandmates through the years with a mighty cheer at the first sighting of John Deacon. After which we got a bass solo with bits of “Body Language” thrown in before Roger Taylor hit the drums of “Staying Power”. With a drum battle between himself and his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor, it didn’t outstay its welcome, the elder Taylor performing with more finesse but less speed than his son.
With a handful of songs left, Brian May treating us to an extended “Brighton Rock” solo, Rufus Tiger Taylor taking on lead drums for “Tie Your Mother Down”, the band rattled through the last of their songs. Brian May asked for the opinion of “the new guy”, to which the crowd unanimously roared their approval. Then came one of the most notable songs of all time; “Bohemian Rhapsody” which descended into a massive singalong. The song reached its crescendo, the moment was nigh. Any self-respecting fan knew what came next. What did Glasgow do? Jump like loons whilst I gave Wayne and Garth their moment of respect.
With an encore of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”, the band took their bows to the tune of the standard “God Save the Queen” as Brian May and Roger Taylor took a bow together and giving the final moment to Adam Lambert.
Bringing new life to the songs, Adam Lambert well and truly silenced any doubters with his own flair and pomp. My own fears were proven to be unfounded. Maybe we should meet our heroes. It’s a lineup which I would happily pay to see again and I hope it endures. Freddie would be proud. It felt like he was there in spirit.
A regal performance indeed.