Don’t Stop Queen Now! – Queen and Adam Lambert Rock Nashville (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

“Let me welcome you ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say hello. Are you ready for some entertainment? Are you ready for a show?” These words, most familiar to die-hard Queen fans, as the lyrics that Freddie Mercury used to introduce “Let Me Entertain You” from the band’s album Jazz and as a live staple for several years – must still ring in the back of Brian May’s and Roger Taylor’s heads as they plot to hit the stage each night. Why? Because they have not lost their penchant of bringing a non-stop, over-the-top musical affair – filled with pomp, glam and good old-fashioned rock and roll. And, for the latest installment of Queen’s ongoing reign over the music world, the band’s Rhapsody Tour, finds the sensational Adam Lambert once-again taking on the challenge of being the band’s frontman. With fellow musicians Spike Edney (keys/Queen alum), Neil Fairclough (bass) and Nashville native Tyler Warren (percussion) – they appeared to take it in stride and rock Music City at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on August 15.

Upon entering the arena, the audience was met with a vast stage, with an immense LED screen/curtain that displayed gilded images of May’s guitar, Taylor’s drum kit, a bass guitar z presumably in honor of John Deacon and of course the microphone of the late Mr. Mercury. Amidst the instruments, a great deal of Queen related images filled the collage – including a portrait of Frank, the giant, silver robot on the cover of News of the World and even a 3-D photograph viewing owl. As the arena filled with the band’s fans, an ominous instrumental -track played through the PA system. As the minutes passed by, anticipation for the band’s entrance was palpable.

Finally, the light’s dimmed and the title track to the band’s last studio album with Mercury, Innuendo, was pumped through the PA as multi-color spotlights were shot up and over the screen. Then the screen raised high, the show had begun, and this clearly delighted the audience.

With the stage and set, now almost clearly in view, May’s opening riff to “Now I’m Here” swirled around the arena as video images of Lambert flashed from stage right to stage left – as it once did before with Mercury in the 70’s. Another video image, this one of Brian May – was revealed as the digital curtains were drawn back. Some may have believed that it was May, but the trick was revealed as May and Lambert walked out on stage in their respective spotlights. Roger Taylor smiled as he sat behind his kit like a king on his throne. May and Lambert took turns walking down the catwalk before returning to the main stage for “Seven Seas of Rhye” and abbreviated takes of “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Hammer to Fall”. These four songs got the show up and running with gusto.

Lambert glammed it up with his schtick during “Killer Queen” – even stopping at one point in the song to declare “I am a queen.” The audience ate it up. It was clear, with smiles from May and Taylor – that he had free reign to handle these classic songs how he wanted. Lambert then addressed the audience about the ‘Pink Elephant’ in the room and confirming that he was not Freddie Mercury, but declared his appreciation for him and the band. It was a short and to the point moment early in the show that most-likely helped some of the Queen purists, get over not having Freddie on stage. Lambert then asked the audience to promise to enjoy the show and with that he broke into “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Lambert continued to impress during “Somebody to Love” – not only with his voice, but his ability to engage audience, whether it was the batting of his eye-lashes or engaging with the audience by motioning for them to sing along – especially at the end of the song, letting them all channel their best impression of Mercury.

Mid-set, the audience was treated to the whimsy “In The Lap Of The Gods (Revisited)”, followed by Roger Taylor expertly taking over on lead vocals – all while staying behind his kit for his for ode to the automobile with “I’m in Love With My Car”. A flurry of vintage photos, videos along with visual effects on the giant LED screen were projected behind Taylor as he and the band played through this thunderous rocker. Lambert continued to glam it up, by appearing on the catwalk, straddling a white Harley Davidson motorcycle and wearing an all-black get-up for “Bicycle Race”. “Another One Bites the Dust”, another staple from Queen’s live shows, slayed before the band tore into the rockin’ “I Want it All.”

The show took a slight turn, as Brian May passed his guitar off and walked down to end of the catwalk by himself. He was then handed an acoustic guitar. Brian graciously addressed the crowd and said, “I’m going to stop being a guitar hero for a bit. You want to help me with this next one? If not, it’s going to be shit.” May caressed the strings of his guitar and sang “Love of My Life” towards the end of the song, while still strumming away, May noted that they were going to “Try a little bit of magic here.” Video of Freddie from the Magic Tour, appeared superimposed with May on the video screens. The audience cheered as Freddie sang the last verse and chorus – which must have been incredibly surreal for May. Then, almost all of the lighting faded, and May was left alone with his acoustic in a single spotlight for “’39.” Roger Taylor joined May as he plucked the opening notes of the deep track, “Doing Alright” – which has found new life, thanks to the newly recorded version found on the Bohemian Rhapsody movie soundtrack. Taylor took the first verse before then being joined by Lambert who seamlessly took over from there.

Lambert, with his third wardrobe change, channeled Elvis Presley in his sequined striped shirt, red pants and cowboy boots. Adding a southern drawl, he worked in a little hip-shaking before May struck the opening chords to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. The trio were all smiles by the end. Taylor then jammed a tiny bit, before breaking in to the intro to “Under Pressure”. Taylor & Lambert shared vocal duties and displayed an obvious musical connection. There was definitely genuine chemistry between the three and it was during “Pressure” that truly seemed to gel.

After returning back to the main stage, the band shook the arena with a nasty romp through the funky “Dragon Attack”. The band was locked in and on fire at this point. May’s licks and riffs were on point, as was Taylor’s work behind the kit. And, Lambert sang with more an edge, not previously heard in previous tours. The rock anthem, “I Want To Break Free” followed and had the arena happily singing as one before a taped “You Take My Breath Away” played through the PA, setting the mood for what was to follow. With a dimly lit stage, a sea of ‘candles’ on the LED screen, along with cellphone lights being held high by the audience, Lambert’s uncanny vocal talents took “Who Wants To Live Forever” to a whole new level. May’s guitar went from intricate elegance to in-your-face Rock God power. “Forever” may have been the most moving and impressive song of the night.

Brian May was settled back in his Rock God role at this point and ready for his solo. He treated the audience to a spectacle of both sight and sound as he and his Red Special took over the stage. May mixed a heavy dose of “Last Horizon” and some of his classic fretwork of “Brighton Rock” amongst other six-string delights. At times, May was suspended above the stage and crowd on his own asteroid, surrounded by multi-colored paper lanterns. The LED screen was filled with more interplanetary imagery and May appeared as if he would be happy to ride along a comet’s tail while traveling his beloved guitar, never to return to earth – as we know it. The epic solo was well-crafted and pure sonic bliss. Towards the end of the solo, Taylor was spied sneaking back behind his kit as to be ready tear into the next song, the classic barnburner, “Tie Your Mother Down” albeit abbreviated – which set the arena on fire!

The latter part of the set brought a crushing “The Show Must Go On” and the fun-loving rocker “Fat Bottomed Girls” – which could have easily acted as the finale. “Girls” went over incredibly well, and it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the audience or the band. It didn’t matter. The party was raging, and Queen kept pumping out the hits. “Radio Ga Ga”, with footage of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis coupled with a frenzy of lasers, naturally wowed the audience. But, it was “Bo Rhap” that brought the house down – especially with May’s iconic solo, the presence of video featuring Freddie Mercury and his voice and Lambert again, helping to raise the energy level with his vocal flair. And, for this show’s encore, Queen stuck with tradition and had the audience clapping their hands and stomping their feet throughout “Rock You” followed by “Champions”. All of the band members took their turn to bow and wave good-bye as the audience listened to Queen’s studio version of “God Save the Queen”. Some things haven’t changed in over 40 years of touring for the band, and it was perfect!

Queen + Adam Lambert Setlist Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN, USA 2019, The Rhapsody Tour

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3 Responses

  1. This review was so amazing and articulate. The description made me feel like I was lucky enough to experience the many well deserved tributes to Freddie, May’s spectacular guitar performances, and the incredible versatility of Adam Lambert. Kudos to Marc for this review and for his amazing photography! You had me in tears reading about your ultimate concert dream coming true. Two words….A Gift.

  2. Thank you so much for this review! My husband and son and I drove from St Louis for the show and it was everything you said in this article. It’s nice to be able to read this review, as the night always goes by so quickly and you tend to forget the details. This had to be the best concert I’ve ever attended… It is the 6th time I’ve seen Queen + Adam Lambert, but it just keeps getting better somehow. Paula Abdul was right about Adam – if it were the Olympics, he’d be their Michael Phelps – he just keeps outdoing himself. The Whyyyyyy in Under Pressure really was the standout for me. And what can you say about Brian and Roger… still rocking so hard in their 70’s. Brian may not be quite as agile as he was, but he could still put some youngsters to shame, I think. And Roger doing the drum/vocal combo is amazing. Not many can do that. Anyway, thank you for putting it all out here. It truly was a night to remember.

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