I've heard a lot of chatter about the recent Queen + Adam Lambert tour that made a tour stop here in Columbus last week to a sold-out crowd at Nationwide Arena.. Some people have been praising it , others not so much.
I did not attend the show, so some might say I don't have a right to judge its integrity but I have been a lifelong Queen fan, so I think my feelings on it are valid.
I've watched several clips of Adam Lambert performing with Queen and while he is a good singer, there's just something missing for me. Something about the tone of his voice just doesn't work for me. I appreciate that he doesn't try to overdo it and I think he is trying to be respectful to the material but to my ears it doesn't sound like Queen. It’s good, just not good enough.
Filling the shoes of original Queen singer Freddie Mercury is no easy task and this isn't the first time Queen's Brain May and Roger Taylor have attempted a Queen reboot.
In 2005 they brought in former Free/Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers to have a go at relaunching Queen as a touring act. Both Rodgers and the Queen camp stated that it was a collaboration and not looked at as Rodgers replacing Mercury. They dubbed this new venture "Queen + Paul Rodgers". Queen bassist John Deacon declined an invitation to be involved, as he had retired in 1997.
Queen + Paul Rodgers completed two world tours and also released an album of all-new material called The Cosmos Rocks. The tours were very successful but the album disappeared quickly after its release in October of 2008.
Queen and Paul Rodgers split in 2009 after The Cosmos Rocks tour.
Initially the combination of Paul Rodgers bluesy voice with the majestic sound of Queen seemed very odd but looking back at it now, it sounds pretty good. Rodgers is one of the best lead singers of all time and he was just doing what he does. He wasn't trying to be anything but himself, which made it work for me. I thought The Cosmos Rocks was an interesting attempt at paving a new path for Queen. After the album’s lukewarm reception, Brian May said he would probably never attempt to make another Queen studio album.
Brian May and Roger Taylor first performed with Adam Lambert when he was a contestant on the 8th season of American Idol in 2009. They eventually announced that Adam would be joining them in a new collaboration called "Queen + Adam Lambert.”
Just like with Paul Rodgers, they made it clear that Lambert was not replacing Freddie Mercury but he is being "featured" with the active members of Queen. I think the biggest difference between what they are doing now and what they did with Rodgers is that they are doing 100% all Queen music now. With Rodgers they did classic Queen songs mixed with some Free and Bad Company, as well as new material.
I understand why Brian and Roger do what they do with Lambert, there's obviously a demand to hear the music and they are playing to sold-out crowds around the world.
We are living in a time where it's pretty rare to go see a band with an intact original line-up. I'm guilty of it myself, seeing Kiss recently with only two original members. But it seems like casual fans don't really care which members are in bands anymore, they just want to hear all those classic songs. Recently Foreigner played a sold-out show with NO original members onstage. What is going on?
Queen are not just any band, though, they are truly iconic and Freddie Mercury was a huge part of the magic. The Lambert version kinda feels like a Broadway tribute to me. I'm sure seeing it live is a different story but I guess I'm not ready to give it a chance yet.
Freddie Mercury died nearly thirty years ago and in that time there has been only one person I can think of that did justice to his legacy and that is George Michael. George appeared with Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1994 and his rendition of "Somebody To Love" is how a Queen song should be done. If they had done “Queen + George Michael,” that’s something I would have been excited to see. Clearly that will never happen.
Check out some clips below of George performing with Queen . I also added a clip of the Queen Front Man Battle between Adam Lambert and Late Late Show host James Corden. I'm putting my money on James.
Lastly I included a clip of Queen’s set from Live Aid. I mean, can anyone really compete with that?
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps andReturning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.