On 30th June 2012 Queen played their first gig with American star, Adam Lambert, in Kiev, Ukraine. Ever since the British rock group performed with Lambert on American Idol in 2009 there has been talk of further work together. This year that promise came to fruition. The first gig the band played was in Kiev, Ukraine – where the band have previously worked to publicize an anti-aids message.
In many ways the setlist and shape of the evening did not stray far from the model that the band established with previous singer, Paul Rodgers. Lambert belted through a series of the expected hits – “I Want It All”, “Radio GaGa” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” whilst also giving space for Brian’s rendition of “Love Of My Life” and Roger’s “A Kind Of Magic”. The traditional drum solo (with added contribution from Rufus Taylor) and guitar solo also feature.
However, it would be wrong to say that there has been no change since 2008. Unlike Paul Rodgers, Lambert supplies none of his own material and this means that there is also more space for other Queen classics, including “Who Wants To Live Forever” and a medley of 70s classics “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and “Keep Yourself Alive”. Lambert also tackles “Somebody To Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” – tracks that would have fallen outside the scope of the former Free frontman. Similarly Lambert skips the heavy rocking “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Hammer To Fall” that were highlights of Q+PR performances.
Brian and Roger’s performances are as polished as ever throughout the show. Just like 2005 and 2008, the band give Lambert a perfect live karaoke backing for him to sing across – the pure Queen sound is there throughout. Spike Edney is once again on keys but there is no room for Jamie Moses and Danny Miranda is replaced on bass. The more than able Rufus Taylor is drafted in to give his dad a helping hand!
Now to comment on Lambert. Prior to doing so I will state my bias, I am obviously a fan of the original line-up but am also a big fan of Paul Rodgers work with the band. Prior to seeing this I wanted to dislike Lambert’s performance for being a television show star and American etc. But, I don’t mind it. Lambert has a voice which has a similar range and style to Mercury and is closer to him than Paul Rodgers was or tried to be. Lambert can touch material Paul couldn’t and gives generally enjoyable renditions – this is a gig that I could enjoy. However, for me I do still prefer Paul out of the two. I liked the fact that Rodgers’ voice is so different to Mercury’s; this helped him put his own stamp on the material. He was also able to bring his own songs to the mix which Lambert doesn’t.
Overall this performance was enjoyable enough and I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to seeing the band should they decide to tour again. Lambert gives decent performances but they are a bit close to Freddie’s to me – more like a musical-show interpretation rather than a new band singer. The setlist is pretty much as expected but it’s good to see that the band have managed to squeeze in some material not dusted off on the last two tours. To sum Q+AL up, I’d say not great, but definitely good.
Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev 6/10