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LIVE: Queen + Adam Lambert – AO Arena, Manchester, 31/05/2022

It’s safe to say that Queen + Adam Lambert’s recent gigs at Manchester’s AO Arena were highly anticipated – particularly since their Rhapsody tour was originally planned for 2020 and has been rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. The show must go on and five years since their last UK tour they made a triumphant return with a lengthy set that paid homage to both their legacy and original frontman, Freddie Mercury’s memory.

Upon entering the arena, there were no doubts about it that we were in for a spectacular show, based on the huge stage set up alone – featuring a runway to a second stage located in the midst of the crowd. Performed as five acts, the band opened the set with the blistering ‘Now I’m Here’. Featuring ‘Seven Seas of Rye’, ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, the first act mostly saw the band revisit the ‘70s – with ‘Somebody In Love’ showcasing not only the strength of Adam Lambert’s vocals, but the extent of the skills that he has to offer as a frontman. 

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Kicking off with the raucous ‘I’m in Love With My Car’ – performed by drummer, Roger Taylor – the band’s second act illustrtated Adam’s talent for commanding the stage. Sat on a bling-encrusted spinning motorcycle, Adam impressed whilst performing ‘Bicycle Race’, before diving into ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, ‘Another Ones Bites the Dust’ and ‘I Want it All’ – sparking mass singalongs for each and every track. Though of course it’s not just Adam’s talents that shine brightly and the chants for Brian May echoing around the arena tell you all that you need to know about one of the greatest guitarists of all times performance as he played the riffs and melodies that have enriched so many people’s lives.

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One of the most poignant moments of the night lay in the hands of Brian during the third act, when he strolled to the top of the walkway alone to play two songs acoustically; ‘Love of My Life’ – with Freddie singing the last few lines via footage displayed on the screens – and haunting folk song, ‘‘39’ from the band’s fourth studio album, A Night at the Opera. The remainder of act three took place on the B stage, with Brian joined by Roger for ‘These Are the Days of Our Lives’ – with Roger adding an element of rawness to the track with his raspy vocals, it was an incredibly touching performance that saw him joined by Adam for the final chorus. Hopping back behind his drum kit, the trio went on to perform ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘Under Pressure’ – dedicated to Foo Fighters’ drummer, Taylor Hawkins, the latter was tackled by Roger and Adam.

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You’d expect the highlight of act four to be when pyrotechnics shot out of Brian’s guitar during his exhilarating solo in ‘A Kind of Magic’, but preceded by the intro of ‘You Take My Breath Away’, the band’s penultimate act unveiled Adam’s emotive interpretation of ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’. Accompanied by stunning visuals, the track triggered tears and goose bumps from the front to the back of the arena. 

The band’s fifth and final act was perhaps their most hit filled; from the crowd favourite ‘Radio Ga Ga’ – complete with a mass amount of arms in the air – to the rock opera of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Though after a short break where the crowd were entertained by a series of Ay-Oh’s from footage of Freddie at the band’s 1986 Wembley show, the band brought the night to an almighty end with a double whammy of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’, with Adam deservedly sporting a crown.

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As the band took their bows, it was clear to see the mutual respect that they all share onstage. From Adam’s charisma and expressive nature to his ability to conquer the sheer volume of Queen’s back catalogue at ease, he’s an outstanding frontman and it’s wondrous that Brian and Roger invited him to join the Queen family. Don’t stop them now.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.