There are performances that you never thought you’d be privileged enough to see in the flesh. There are also times as a writer when you struggle to formulate a review worthy of such a performance. Tonight is one of those nights.
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Queen, yes THE Queen (well, the band, not the ACTUAL Queen), are pulling out all the stops for the Brisbane crowd tonight. If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s like myself and so many of the other ticket holders tonight, then you know Queen all too well. Their music was the soundtrack to our formative years and we hold so much love for the tunes that they have bestowed upon this earth. Bringing forth one of the most enigmatic front men in Freddie Mercury, Queen smashed out hit after hit, building an extensive repertoire. When Freddie passed, we were left with a void in one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Thankfully that void has been filled by Adam Lambert, someone of immense swagger and talent. Powerful and soulful, Lambert’s voice is the perfect accompaniment to Queen’s distinctive sound.
The house lights go down, and the crowd cheers in excitement as the drum beats of ‘We Will Rock You’ resonates throughout the BEC. Prompting a singalong this early is nothing short of spectacular, but prompting a ‘stomp-along’? Well that’s something else entirely. The whole crowd stomping and clapping in unison to make a venue this large shake is amazing to witness. The band graces the stage and the applause is thunderous. Launching full tilt into ‘Hammer To Fall’, it seems as though we’re in for one hell of a night. The way Brian May handles a guitar is breathtaking. It seems like the guitar is a part of him, delivering riffs and solos so effortlessly, that it’s hard to believe he could call this ‘work’.
Roger Taylor is a percussionist that cannot be faulted. His iconic style of drumming is one that has been emulated by many performers, and rightly so. Somehow it has a complexity and simplicity all in one. It’s incredible to watch and you can understand why he is a performer a lot of musicians look up to. The usual drum solo spot of the night is overshadowed by the presence of two drummers on stage having what can inly be described as a ‘duelling banjos’ moment. It’s a spectacle to be witnessed. Taylor is the band’s everyman, whether it’s the percussive genius or taking the reins for vocals on a couple of tracks (perfection filling David Bowie’s part on ‘Under Pressure’), Taylor seems to not miss a beat at all. Every member of this band gives it their all into tonight’s show and the crowd feeds off the energy. It’s hard to believe they’re nearly in their fifth decade as a band. Tributes to Freddie are plentiful throughout the performance. From a brilliant rendition of ‘Love Of My Life’ by May (with an eerily phone lit BEC accompaniment), to Lambert speaking with the crowd in regards to his predecessor, Mercury is not far from anyone’s minds tonight.
Hit after hit keeps rolling out; from ‘Killer Queen’ to ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, this massive setlist is all encompassing. The crowd goes absolutely nuts when the opening riff of ‘I Want It All’ begins to ring through the centre, sending everyone into a collective frenzy to give their energy back to our guests for the night. As the main set closes out with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, it’s hard to imagine how Queen would deliver a encore to top this. Departing the stage, the crowd beckons them to return, not knowing how they will close out their performance.
Now THIS is what I wanted. A packed out BEC, chanting, stomping, clapping, making as much noise as possible while Queen blasts out ‘We Will Rock You’ in all its glory. While not open air, I imagine this is only a fraction of what Wembley felt like back in 1986 in terms of atmosphere. Giving us ‘We Are The Champions’ directly after is like being delivered the old 1-2 from a heavyweight boxer, it completely floors you. Queen and Lambert have given us nothing short of an immense, half century career encompassing performance. Dreams have been lived for some and in my opinion, this is going to be a hard show to top this year.
IMAGES (c) JD Punisher Photography