Queen + Adam Lambert

Royal Arena, Copenhagen - 2022

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

In a word - fabulous!

“God aften, København! God aften, Danmark! You don’t know how long I’ve been practising that.”
- Brian May (guitar/vocals)


In a few more words -
Queen was coming to Denmark on their Rhapsody tour, and they were playing two consecutive days, Sunday and Monday, at the Royal Arena (a fitting place for a Queen, I suppose). The photos and review are from the Sunday gig, unless otherwise stated.
I’ve never seen Queen live before, but I’ve listened to them since I was a child, and so finally getting to see them play, even though technically it’s only Brian May and Roger Taylor left of the famous foursome, felt like nothing short of a magical opportunity. There was absolutely a whole lot of hype leading up to the concert night - how could there not be - and so the big question was, how would the band stack up to it?

Quickly introducing the rest of the band before going further; we of course had Adam Lambert on vocals, and additionally long-time collaborator Philip ‘Spike’ Edney on piano, as well as newer additions Neil Fairclough on bass, and Tyler Warren on additional percussion.

After a long, fairly calm waiting period, some spread cheers could be heard as the smoke machines got going, and a half droning keyboard sound came out of the speakers. The house lights were still on however, and there was still a video screen wall covering the stage.
It wasn’t until the lights went down, and a symphonic, instrumental version of Innuendo was played as intro though, that the real cheering began - and it was deafening! The only bad thing I could say about this, is that using Innuendo in this fashion meant they wouldn’t play it live themselves, andI must confess that Innuendo is my favourite song of theirs.
Still, it was in there in a way, and that’ll have to be alright, I guess.
The first real song was, fittingly, Now I’m Here, and as the riff began, a curtain behind the podium in the back was opened up, and we could see Brian May in silhouette, playing.
Or was it? No. No, it wasn’t. It was a CGI Brian, as the real Brian May ascended out of the stage floor. Seconds later, he was joined by Adam Lambert, who entered in a more traditional way, and now the gang was all assembled.

I would liken Queen’s show to that of Kiss, who visited Copenhell earlier in the summer. Both bands deliver a highly technical show, filled with stunts and effects. They are both highly planned and rehearsed shows. And yet within this rather rigid framework, both bands show that they know exactly how to create a party for their fans. Going on routine should not exclude being present, but that is a dangerously narrow path to tread. Neither Kiss nor Queen falls to the wayside in this respect, and that goes to show their level of performance skill.
Another artist this could be likened to, is Roger Waters. When he brings out his The Wall show, Dark Side Of The Moon show, or any of his other shows for that matter, it is always with a high level of detail and technicality, making sure that the audience gets an eyeful as much as an earful for their money.
For Queen and the Rhapsody tour, they weren’t going for a specific album, but rather a best of setlist with a few songs from just outside the staple gathering. Still, the show was as complete an experience as one would expect. I’ve already mentioned May coming up from under the floor, but that was only the beginning.

To be honest though, the beginning of the show was pretty much straight forward with music, a good streak of rockers and grandiosity. Adam Lambert invited the crowd to a loud sing along during Somebody To Love, but people certainly weren’t keeping quiet outside of this planned event.
Lambert wasn’t shy to let others do the singing at all, it turned out. As he himself stated, he was as much a fan of Queen as the rest of us, and this evening was all about celebrating the iconic band. It started with Roger Taylor singing his song I’m In Love With My Car, and later saw him return to the microphone for These Are The Days Of Our Lives, as well as taking David Bowie’s parts in Under Pressure. May on his side got to perform Love Of My Life and ‘39 on his own with just an acoustic guitar - well, I say on his own, but in a now classical fashion, May was joined on the last part of Love Of My Life by Freddie Mercury from the Wembley ‘86 show, and in a touching display of lasting friendship, they joined hands on the screen at the very end.
As a side-note, Queen played, as mentioned, two days in Copenhagen, a Sunday and a Monday, and during the Monday gig, May was interrupted in his segway speech between Love Of My Life and ‘39 by the audience, who by their own accord took to singing happy birthday to him - his birthday was technically not until the day after, but it still left him moved and speechless. In the end, he had to ask the fans to quiet down, as they (the band) still had a lot of the show to go through. May also praised the Monday audience as being better than the Sunday audience, adding that he’d probably get in trouble on the net for that later on - well Brian, here is the internet, so consider yourself in trouble!
Joke aside though, the audience was absolutely rocking both days, and it wasn’t possible to say one was better than the other.

Queen often delivered on the feels during their two and a half hour long concert. There was one especially unexpected place that deserves attention though, and it takes some explaining, so bear with me.
In an effort to make the show look extra theatrical, Queen and their crew had made a stage backed by several video screens. These displayed golden pillars and deep red, heavy curtains, making each section look like opera boxes. Some of these were actually used as opera boxes, reserved for those how’d paid for the VIP experience. Not sure how VIP it felt to watch the whole show from behind though, but that’s neither here nor there. The large, rounded screen that had hid the stage prior to the show, had been raised, and displayed a golden pattern making it out for ceiling border, the thing that’s put in place to hide all the lights and rigging that could spoil the immersion in a play at a theatre or opera.
During the song In The Lap of The Gods…Revisited however, the screens showed us an extravagant backstage tour leading up to the stage, and with the end of the song, we saw the theatre stage we were used to by now, fall apart before our very eyes. The curtains and pillars were of course video effects, but going even further, entire sections of the screens were falling down from their setting in the back, now hanging askew over the stage.
For some reason, this hit me really hard when I saw it, and just about got me to choke up.
The theme was later revisited in It’s A Kind Of Magic, where we got to see the ghostly and colourful outlines of what had been the stage before, and nearing the end of the show, the stage was once again rebuilt to its former glory, beautifully bringing the theme to a full circle.

There are many other visual things I could go into detail about, but we’d be sitting here till next time Queen goes on tour if I did, so to quickly shortlist a few favourites:
May’s guitar solo, where he was elevated to look like he was standing on a comet, with planets dancing around him.
The drumkit at the end of the catwalk for Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
The audience using their phone lights to light Love Of My Life.
Using video images from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis during Radio Ga Ga.
The disco ball in I Want To Break Free.
Hey, I said it was hard to stop, once I got started!

It’s hard to pick musical highlights from a band and a show with so many hits, and also here I feel I could more or less just list the tracks they played, but let’s not do that.
Sure, I would have loved to hear Innuendo properly played, but maybe that’s too tough to pull off live, with all the many layers and instrumentations it contains. I did love Who Wants To Live Forever and The Show Must Go On, as they have both been long time favourites of mine, and I feel sorry for the Monday audience that the latter was cut from their setlist.
May’s solo wasn’t a blazing thing built on throwing as many notes at us as physically possible, as so many solos are, but it was rather about building an atmosphere, which I feel he accomplished quite well. A little longer than necessary perhaps, but when have you ever heard me feel differently about solos?
We Are The Champions has been played to death over the years, with it being incorporated into so many things, sporting events especially, but it still managed to feel fresh and highly relevant as Queen used it as the final song of the concert.

This truly was a fabulous show. Queen is as a group such an experienced and talented entertainer, and with Freddie Mercury gone from us, I couldn’t imagine anyone more adept at following in his footsteps than Adam Lambert. Not only is he an insanely talented vocalist, but his stage presence and performance skills are also outstanding. I love the fact that May and Taylor still sing, and they are both very capable vocalists, but Lambert, like Mercury before him, is truly the star. This works perfectly for the band dynamic as well, with all musicians shining, but Lambert playing the sun which the stars revolve around.
It was also fully justified to bring back Mercury from time to time, and it blended well into the rest of the show.
The fact that we chose to go in and see the Monday show as well, even though we had only planned to see Queen on the Sunday should speak plenty as to how we felt about this, and none of us would hesitate to see them again, had they played here for one more day.
As it stands, we can only wait with anticipation for the next tour.

Setlist:

Innuendo (orchestral version)
Now I’m Here
Hammer To Fall
Somebody To Love
Killer Queen
Don’t Stop me Now
In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited
I’m In Love With My Car
Bicycle Race
Fat Bottomed Girls
Another One Bites The Dust
I Want It All
‘39
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Under Pressure
A Kind Of Magic
I Want To Break Free
You Take My Breath Away (snippet)
Who Wants To Live Forever
Solo (May)
Tie Your Mother Down
The Show Must Go On
Radio Ga Ga
Bohemian Rhapsody
Solo (Mercury, from Wembley ‘86)
We Will Rock You
We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen (traditional song)
Heroes (David Bowie song)

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