Queen rock you with tribute to Freddie Mercury
THE shaggy mop of hair has turned from black to grey, the audience has aged a little too and lighters in the air have been replaced with iPhone screens.
A lot has changed, but one thing has never faltered- Queen still rock.
From women reliving their teenage years, to hardened rockers from way-back and even some children, the sold-out crowd at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Monday night, knew they were part of something special.
A once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a real rock 'n' roll show with the legends that are Queen…..well, most of them.
Adam Lambert, an American Idol runner up who has achieved two top 10 singles in Australia, largely stuck to the script stepping-in as front man for the band.
He is of course one of a long list of lead vocalists joining drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May since 1991 when the great Freddie Mercury passed away.
The moustached wonder was the best front man of all time, a pure talent who left behind extraordinarily large glittery platform shoes to fill.
The audience was a little reluctant at first to accept "the new guy". Would this just be a karaoke session with backing band?
Like our own INXS, iconic English stadium rock band Queen spent many fruitless years trying desperately to find a lead singer with half the charisma of a tragically-departed icon.
Bass player John Deacon would have no part in a "Freddie replacement", retiring from the music industry in the 1990s and shunning the limelight ever since.
But May and Taylor's approach is one of proud ownership of the work created with and alongside Mercury.
A phenomenal performer in his own right, Lambert rose to the challenge to deliver an unforgettable Queen show.
The curtain concealing the stage began to shake as band members cheekily prodded the sheet to tease the awaiting crowd.
The cover came off and the house exploded with a hearty welcome for the band some people had waited 30 years to see on Australian soil again.
From the first song, Now I'm Here, The crowd went crazy for Queen and it was here we saw our first of many guitar solos from Brian May.
Unsure hand clapping turned into fist pumping, cheering and yells as Lambert proved his worth within the first two songs.
But it was the familiar hits Another One Bites the Dust and Fat Bottomed Girls which put the audience onside with his flamboyant stage persona.
Lambert's high energy performance and incomprehensible voice range dominate, but it is during Fat Bottom Girls that May takes back the crown as king of the stage.
I have no qualms in saying May is the single greatest guitarist of all time.
It is from here in the show that the audience was spoilt with 10-minute guitar solos from a man whose hands have run up and down the strings for decades.
He closes his eyes as he hits the chords, his fingers moving quickly along the neck. Special mention to the set designers who incorporated close up real-time footage of guitar strings on the big screen.
Lambert returns in a gold-fringed jacket and sparkly platform shoes to walk the runway for Seven Seas of Rhye, before taking a seat on a gold laden lounge.
This is where we see the real Lambert at play.
He swigs from a champagne bottle while fanning himself as he lounges at the tip of the stage. His expressive face bringing animation to the hit song.
When the lights go down Lambert pats his sweaty chest down, chatting to the audience.
He expresses his gratitude for playing on stage with the iconic band and thanked the late, great Freddie Mercury for being his inspiration.
The audience is now put at ease, that this is no imitation show, but a tribute to Queen and their glory years in the 1970s and 80s.
What I loved about this show was there was no stage hogging.
It wasn't about Lambert, it wasn't about Taylor or just May, it was about everyone. It was about the music of Queen.
And it was about Freddie.
The mood softens midway through and May takes a seat alone at the end of the runway. He declares it's lovely to be in Australia because he feels a part of our lives for a moment.
With a half closed-mouth smile, he picks up his guitar and plays Waltzing Matilda, the audience softly singing along.
Then he asks "shall we play one for Freddie?" He brings things down a step with Love of My Life which closes beautifully with archive footage of Mercury himself playing on the big screen.
Then the audiences is treated to some one-on-one time with May including a moment of technology mishaps with what he calls "the selfie stick"-Go Pro he swings around the adoring audience in a Mexican wave.
Next it was time for Taylor to shine. He sets himself up at the end of the runway with his drum kit, his son Rufus on stage and the two have a musical drum off.
This is what I loved about this show.
Gone are the days where instruments and the music are so well respected in a live show.
The keyboard, bass, drums, guitar, vocals, they are all given their time to shine in the spotlight.
The drummer is not just someone at the back of the stage. To complement the extraordinary skills, the lighting, smoke and lasers add to the grandeur of the concert.
Taylor also impresses with his vocal abilities when he takes lead vocals in Kind of Magic. It's a special moment between Taylor and May on stage together again.
While guitar playing is important, I loved watching May's face while he cranks out his chords.
Sometimes a slight strain, but always going back to smiling, May was in his element. He gives a small wave to the audience and mutters the words "thank you".
The spotlight is back on Lambert with his rendition of Who Wants to Live Forever, standing under the lights of a disco ball.
It's a definite highlight of the show. I'm yet to ever witness or feeling a powerful voice like this before, stunning.
A sing along soon breaks when the beats start off Radio Ga Ga and Lambert shines through Crazy Little Thing Called Love while he channels Elvis for a lip curl.
The big screen goes from black to a series of heads, this can only mean one thing¬- Bohemian Rhapsody. It was the one everyone was waiting for, head banging in unison.
In a final farewell to Freddie, his face appears on screen for the ending words "any way the wind blows".
What we all know it's not really the end. It could only end one way really.
The audience begins the familiar stomp-stomp-clap of We Will Rock You before May returns to the stage to ramp it up followed by a flamboyant Lambert in a fierce leopard print suit an diamond crown on his head.
We Are the Champions follows, its warm embrace before the band waves goodbye to God Save the Queen.
Queen, you are the champions.
Queen's Brisbane set list 2014
1. Now I'm Here
2. Stone Cold Crazy
3. Another One Bites the Dust
4. Fat Bottomed Girls
5. In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited
6. Seven Seas of Rhye
7. Killer Queen
8. Somebody to Love
9. I Want It All
10. Love of My Life
12. A Kind Of Magic
13. Under Pressure
14. Dragon Attack
15. Who Wants to Live Forever
16. Tie Your Mother Down
17. I Want to Break Free
18. Radio Ga Ga
19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
20. Bohemian Rhapsody
21. We Will Rock You
22. We Are the Champions