In the first of two visits to Birmingham Arena, Queen + Adam Lambert performed to to a 14,000 capacity crowd with a spectacular two hour show taking in the very best of Queen’s catalogue of hits and much loved favourites.
There’s a building sense of anticipation that this was going to be sensational show as a monotonous drone gave way to a thumping and the semi-circular screen wall covering the stage appeared to be smashed open by a giant Frank the robot from Queen’s News Of The World album, and then lifted up to reveal the band shrouded in dry ice.
Brian May and Adam Lambert made inroads into the crowd with the lengthy walkway extending out into the arena as the brief ‘We Will Rock You’ intro segued into a dynamic ‘Hammer To Fall’. The walkway enabled many more of those standing to be closer to the action at times, but with the cut out stage fronts, those seated in the gods would also have noticed that the stage was actually shaped like a giant guitar even down to the tuning pegs. The aforementioned semi circular screen was complemented with more screens at the back of the stage ensuring that the whole audience had plenty to look at to enjoy the show.
While some songs are supported with inventive lighting and lasers, such as the early classic ‘Tie Your Mother Down’, others have supporting props. For ‘Killer Queen’, Lambert appeared sitting atop a giant robotic Frank head that emerged from the stage and delivered the song with typical flamboyance. A delightfully pink tricycle appeared from the walkway which Lambert rode around the stage during ‘Bicycle Race’. For ‘Somebody To Love’ even Roger Taylor had a kit appear at the end of the ‘guitar neck’ allowing him to play in the centre of the arena. As a contrast to the extravagant, May took an acoustic guitar to the end of the walkway for a solo take on an emotionally charged ‘Love Of My Life’ creating quite an intimate feeling in the arena.
The intimacy doesn’t last long though as shortly after we saw a giant hydraulic robotic hand lift Brian May seemingly into outer space where he plays his solo before slowly returning to the stage amid an array of laser beams as the solo leads into ‘Radio Gaga’ and a grand finale of ‘Bohemain Rhapsody’.
An encore of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’ brought a fantastic evening to a close amidst showers from confetti cannons. For some, Adam Lambert remains a controversial choice, but on the evidence of tonight his vocal ability and flamboyance have made him an ideal individual to interpret these songs along with the revitalised May & Taylor. A fact to which I’m sure that the 200,000 people they will play to on this current UK tour will attest.
Queen + Adam Lambert play Nottingham Motorpoint Arena on 5th December and return to Arena Birmingham on 16th December.