Tag Archives: Concert review

Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev

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

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Brian Setzer – Live at Brixton Academy (24.07.11)

On Sunday night my girlfriend and I joined the queues outside the famous Brixton Academy to see Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot. At 7pm the doors opened and we quickly grabbed a spot in front of the sound desk and looked forward to the evening ahead.

The first band out was the new rockabilly group The Caezars. A four-piece group boasting a talented guitarist in Danny “O”, the band struggled against a poor sound set-up meaning that I could not make out a single word sung in any of the songs. This was a frustration shared by the second support act the highly rated Jim Jones Revue. The Revue’s lead singer, Jim Jones, decided to take this out on the audience however! Getting frustrated with a lack of audience participation (in no small part due to the fact that we couldn’t make out any of the lyrics!) he ended up criticising us for wanting to see Brian Setzer more than we wanted to see him! Overall, neither support act impressed me greatly and I think they both missed fundamental tricks on the rockabilly scene, such as having a sprinkling of standards in the set list.

Following half an hour’s set-up time, Johnny Hatton and Noah Levy strode onto the stage to huge applause. Seconds later the opening riff to “Ignition” rang out and the crowd took the roof off of the joint as the king of rockabilly, Brian Setzer, took control! In the first set Setzer played a mix of rockabilly standards, such as “Put Your Cat-Clothes On”, and tracks from his solo career – “8-Track” and “This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof”. The musicianship throughout the set was storming and the whole band shone on tracks from Setzer’s new album, Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL.

At the beginning of the second set Brian Setzer announced that the guitar he was playing was first used for Stray Cats in the 19080’s and to go with it he had brought a ‘spare Stray Cat’ – Slim Jim Phantom! With a new bass player – Chris D’Rozario – on stage, the band kicked through a selection of Stray Cats classics such as “Rumble In Brighton”, “Runaway Boys” and “Stray Cat Strut”. The crowd was clearly buoyed by this selection and the presence of two members of the 1980’s rockabilly giants. Special note has to go to D’Rozario who I thought was awesome on the bass. No disrespect to Johnny Hatton, but I felt that D’Rozario had a rockabilly style right up there with Mark Winchester and Lee Rocker.

The only low-point of the set for my girlfriend and I was the fact that we had to sneak out of the gig during “Red Hot” for fear of missing the last tube back to our hotel!

Overall Brian Setzer and both of his bands put on a hi-octane storming set. The sound was spot-on for Setzer’s set, making it a vast improvement on the sound at the Stray Cats gig in Zurich ’08. The quality of Brian’s playing was awe-inspiring, as was that of his bands. The set was a good mix of rockabilly standards, Stray Cats classics and highlights of Brian’s solo career and orchestra. It was nice to see Slim-Jim again and I can’t wait for the next time the rockabilly riot hits town!

Article first published as Concert Review: Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot, Brixton Academy, 7/24/11 on Blogcritics

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