Queen with Adam Lambert, London O2 Arena, review: Wonderfully flamboyant

Lambert is utterly respectful of Freddie Mercury's position in the eyes of fans, and chooses to have fun with his role rather than try to imitate the late singer

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Thursday 05 July 2018 13:44 BST
Adam Lambert performs with Brian May and Roger Taylor at The O2 Arena
Adam Lambert performs with Brian May and Roger Taylor at The O2 Arena (WireImage/Getty)

It's no mean feat, finding a replacement for one of the greatest rock singers of all time, but Queen have found one of the best possible artists in the form of Adam Lambert.

Strangely, things get off to a slow start at the O2 Arena in London. While the reception in the O2 Arena is enthusiastic as Lambert struts about the stage in a red leather Alexander McQueen jacket (he cut the sleeves off himself) the audience seems rather unmoved by a powerful rendition of "Tear It Up" that opens the show with a riotous flashing of red and white lights. Brian May looking utterly relaxed as he strolls about in what appears to be a quilted dressing gown.

Lambert has a famously impressive vocal range and is wonderfully flamboyant, rising out of the stage on a giant robot head to sing the campest version of "Killer Queen" imaginable. He's fantastic, as he ends the song and gestures to his pink and black chequered trousers. "Isn't this the gayest outfit you've ever seen!" he squawks (later he'll emerge in a gold lamé cape and crown), outdoing himself.

Anyone seeing this show for the first time would doubt whether even a singer as adept as Lambert could pull off such a daunting task as to do justice to Freddie Mercury's performance, but he has acknowledged this both in public and at each performance, commenting in 2015: "There is never going to be another [Freddie Mercury] and I'm not replacing him. I'm trying to keep the memory alive, and remind people how amazing he was, without imitating him."

Adam Lambert (centre) performs with Brian May (right) and Roger Taylor (left) at The O2 Arena 

 Adam Lambert (centre) performs with Brian May (right) and Roger Taylor (left) at The O2 Arena 

So he steers clear of matching Mercury's vocal or on-stage performance, standing respectfully to the site as the operatic section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" with Mercury himself is played on a giant screen; choosing to ham up the theatrics of a Queen show rather than sing in the same style. "Another One Bites The Dust" comes with a side of extra sass.

May performs a moving version of "Love Of My Life" which includes the hair-raising moment Mercury's image appears on the screen next to him, bowing delightedly at the applause and appearing to acknowledge his bandmate with a ghostly wave of affection.

He and Lambert make way after "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" for Roger Taylor to embark on an outrageous solo, before the drummer is joined by Neil Fairclough for that famous intro to "Under Pressure". There are so many memorable moments to this show. While the constant switch-ups, costume changes and stage movements make it seem a little disjointed or clunky, it's really not surprising to hear so many thrilled fans leaving the arena calling it one of their all-time favourite gigs.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in