Review Roundup: Queen and Adam Lambert at Madison Square Garden
Queen + Adam Lambert performed last night, July 17, at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.
The group received glowing reviews for their performance together at the iHeartRadio Music Festivalin Las Vegas last September, triggering a conversation between Adam, Roger and Brian to take the show on the road. Since that time, the rocking musicians have toured throughout the U.S. and the world.
The threesome first shared the stage during American Idol in May 2009 for a performance of "We Are The Champions." They teamed up again in 2011 at the MTV European Music Awards in Belfast, Ireland for an electrifying eight-minute finale of "The Show Must Go On," "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions" and in the summer of 2012, Lambert performed a series of shows with Queen across Europe as well as dates in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. They also performed three sold-out gigs at London's Hammersmith Apollo.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Jon Pareles, The New York Times: Queen's songs and original band members -- Mr. May and the drummer Roger Taylor - dominate this tour, sometimes too much. Mr. Lambert -- singing to replace Queen's leader, Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991 -- is a modest accessory, on and off the stage, as he changes into various costumes of leather, lace, studs, animal-skin patterns and shiny fringe...On paper, Mr. Lambert is ideal for Queen...He's no longer the goth-styled, crotch-grabbing character he was while touring for his solo albums. Now he's deferential, boyish and trying to update Queen...with a touch of American R&B in his voice and with hip-hop stage patter. Neither is a winning strategy. His voice loses fullness as it ascends, his R&B melismata are whiny, and his patter is embarrassing.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday: ...after the halfway point, Lambert started to grow into the role. He handled "Under Pressure" gloriously, with drummer Roger Taylor taking on David Bowie's vocals nicely. He followed with a poignant version of "Who Wants to Live Forever" that showed he could interpret a song differently from Mercury with his powerful voice. The way he went toe-to-toe vocally with a video of Mercury during "Bohemian Rhapsody," though, showed that Queen had made a good choice in signing him up. Can Lambert really replace Mercury, who died of HIV-related complications in 1991? Of course not. But he may be able to help take the band in a new direction.
Kevin Couglin, New York Daily News: ...former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert channels the spirit of Queen's late frontman Freddie Mercury in almost every detail. Strutting the curvaceous stage like a black leather-clad peacock with a slight pompadour, Lambert launched into the set opener, "Now I'm Here" with ferocity and vigor. At times, Lambert's presence appeared to rejuvenate and energize May's and Taylor's performance throughout the 2 hour 15-minute, 23-song set. On songs such as "Stone Cold Crazy", "Seven Seas of Rhye", and "Killer Queen", Lambert displayed Mercury-esque flamboyancy and showmanship; stretching out on a sofa at one point.
Erika Berlin, Entertainment Weekly: But for all of Lambert's preening and expert vocal acrobatics, this was still very much Mercury's show. Queen's remaining original members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor (bassist John Deacon retired in 1997), have said time and time again that this show is not a reproduction and that Lambert is not meant to be a Mercury clone. So while his skinny leather pants, leopard-print tuxes, and use of studs and fringe in a single outfit would likely all be Freddie-approved, Adam Lambert was very much his glam-punk self, and Mercury still kept a couple of coveted solos for himself. The band came out hard with songs such as "Now I'm Here," "Another One Bites the Dust," and "Fat Bottomed Girls" and spent the majority of their two-plus-hours-long set showcasing the still-obvious talent that made May a guitar hero in the first place.
Hardeep Phull, New York Post: By trying to fill in for Freddie Mercury, [Lambert] has drunk from a poisoned chalice, and it was painful watching him slowly succumb. Lambert's vocals have never been in question, but compared to Mercury's booming, full-bodied range that could fill stadiums on its own, the 32-year-old's squeaky warbling on songs such as "Somebody To Love" and "Another One Bites The Dust" sounded like farts in the wind...But it would be unfair to lay the blame for all of this completely at Lambert's door. He's just a jobbing performer who is smart enough to know he'll never even come close to Mercury's level of charisma or talent. The real villains are guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor for letting this happen. Again.
Markos Papadatos, Digital Journal: Queen featuring Adam Lambert was one unforgettable concert experience...Lambert's superb vocal ability is unparalleled and Brian May is a guitar king.Lambert did an exceptional job paying tribute to [Mercury's] lengthy body of musical work. You just could not get your eyes off of Lambert, no matter how hard you may tried...He had good stage presence as did May and Taylor. Somewhere in heaven, Mercury would be smiling upon them, especially since Lambert helped bring Mercury's classic rock music to a younger generation of fans. They garnered an A+ rating.
Photo Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment