Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs
(Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs/ Image Credits: The Seattle Times)

Queen and Adam Lambert rocked TD Garden Oct. 16 in a sold-out show that created something new while honoring the band’s storied history.

The Rhapsody Tour, which has undergone various worldwide legs over the past four years, last stopped in Massachusetts in 2019.

Frontman Adam Lambert, who has performed alongside Brian May and Roger Taylor since 2011, deftly played the part of the show’s ringleader. Lambert’s stage presence is pure fun, incorporating something distinctly his own into the classic hits first made famous by the band’s legendary frontman, Freddie Mercury. Lambert’s showmanship and humor take center stage (during 'Killer Queen,' he sings directly into a camera while pretending to put on makeup) while still honoring the work of the band over time.

Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs
(Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs/ Image Credits: 9News)

The show, which could very easily be a showcase for Lambert’s vocals alone, makes sure to feature rock ‘n’ roll legends Brian May and Roger Taylor equally as heavily. Lambert spends almost as much time offstage as he does on, and both May and Taylor get individual time with the crowd. May played a moving acoustic rendition of 'Love of My Life,' while Taylor commandeered David Bowie’s section of 'Under Pressure. 'The Rhapsody Tour paid tribute to Mercury as a lively celebration, rather than a grim commemoration. But the performance didn’t dwell on Mercury’s noted absence, instead creating an homage by keeping Queen’s songs alive. 

Queen is a band known for their theatrics, and the band didn’t disappoint moving platforms and set pieces elevated May’s guitar solos and Lambert’s high notes in an engaging fashion. Lambert emerged from underneath the stage on a giant rotating motorcycle for 'Bicycle Race,' while May showcased his guitar skills while slowly rising above the crowd. However, while Lambert, May, and Taylor brought energy and passion to every song, the show struggled with pacing. Long solos, some confusing visuals, and lesser-known deep cuts were scattered throughout Queen’s uptempo hits, which lost the attention of the crowd for brief periods of time.

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But these lapses were mitigated by the pure cultural impact of Queen’s musical catalog — with hits like 'Don’t Stop Me Now' to 'I Want to Break Free,' the crowd was back on track. After a stunning rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' the band left the stage as a video of Mercury’s iconic 'Ay-Oh' played on enormous screens. Everyone in the room knew what to do, creating a call-and-response that transcended the barriers of time and mortality. The Rhapsody Tour was at its best when it reinvigorated the feelings of musical vigor and gusto stirred up by Freddie Mercury so many years ago. Lambert addressed his predecessor in a mid-show speech that touched on his legacy. 

Adam Lambert strikes a pose atop a spinning motorcycle that’s half Harley-Davidson, half disco ball singing 'Bicycle Race'. Lambert is at peak Glambert. He’s cheeky, charming, swagger stuffed in leather, and absolutely crushing an insanely difficult song to cover on stage Sunday at the TD Garden in front of a packed house. Adam Lambert is very good at his job. And at the same time, no one can replace Freddie Mercury. And everyone knows this. Especially Adam Lambert. The thing is Brian May and Roger Taylor are still perfect note for note perfect! —  at their jobs, even at 76 and 74, respectively.

Rock has entered an interesting, odd phase. John Mayer can stand in for Jerry Garcia with members of the Grateful Dead. Axl Rose can fill in for Brian Johnson in AC/DC. Eagles tour with Glenn Frey’s kid, Phil Collins tours with his own kid playing his drum parts, Michael Sweet of Stryper actually logged time singing for Boston.

Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs
(Rock Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert At Td Garden — A Few Curveballs/ Image Credits: Yahoo)

What are we to do? Scream cash grab? Skip the show? Mock the revolution for being televised, commodified, commercialized? In the case of Queen + Adam Lambert, so popular they booked back-to-back Garden parties, maybe we can miss Freddie and shout along to Bicycle Race, Somebody to Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, and rest of the hits and stone cold classics.

May and Taylor should get to play these songs (many of which they wrote) if they can still play them. And it’s shocking what they can do five decades into rock ‘n’ roll. Taylor still plays so deep in the pocket while tossing out fills that are both subtle and virtuosic. May has a bigger role to play his guitar was always the second most distinctive thing about Queen.

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The most dramatic, bombastic, histrionic voice to come from 'American Idol' can sing every note in the Queen catalog. Sometimes Lambert can sing too much like Freddie notably on Who Wants to Live Forever. But over the past dozen years he’s been doing this, he’s become wonderfully confident. Maximum commitment, eyeliner and ego, costume changes and charisma, glitter and glam packaged with the staccato attack of Stone Cold Crazy, the eerie and ethereal intro to I Want It All, and the pomp and preening of Killer Queen.