Queen + Adam Lambert at the Chase Center— rhapsodising over the 'Rhapsody' tour

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Thursday November 9, 2023
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Queen+Adam Lambert at the Nov. 8 Chase Center concert.<br>(photo: Dana Jacobs)
Queen+Adam Lambert at the Nov. 8 Chase Center concert.
(photo: Dana Jacobs)

Themes of science fiction, steampunk and outer space projected onto multiple screens did not upstage the musical artistry of Queen + Adam Lambert at their Chase Center concert November 8. With additional musicians — keyboard player and musical director Spike Edney, bass guitarist Neil Fairclough and percussionist Tyler Warren — the band performed an array of classic hits, with recorded audio and video tributes to the late Freddie Mercury.

Even before the concert, a sense of giddiness was in the air as people posed in front of the large billboard outside the Chase Center. The staff was friendly and courteous as we entered and found our seats. While they were fewer festively-dressed fans than at the recent Elton John concert, I learned quickly to not judge by appearances. Two burly men who could have been truck drivers sat in front of us and complimented my vintage Queen t-shirt and my friend's glam garb as we regaled our tales of 1970s arena rock attendances, including Queen.

A 'Metropolis' moment, one of many dazzling projections at the Queen+Adam Lambert 'Rhapsody' tour. (photo: Dana Jacobs)  

In fact, most of the patrons seemed to be in their 50s or 60s and have been Queen fans for decades. There were a few young folks who possibly had yet to enjoy the thrill of seeing guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor joined with Adam Lambert, who proudly announced that he's been touring with Queen for ten years. His entrance in the first of several glamorous costumes took on a silver gladiator science fiction theme.

The set list started off in the first section with a bit of "Radio Gaga," followed by "Hammer to Fall," a "Stone Cold Crazy" excerpt, and "Another One Bites the Dust."

Drummer Rodger Taylor took to the mic and drums with his classic, "I'm in Love With My Car" from the "A Night at the Opera" album. Then Lambert reappeared on the extended runway atop a glistening silver motorcycle, in yet more glamorous garb. With a camera set in front of him on the handlebars, his amusing close-ups and hip thrusts brought high camp style.

"Fat Bottomed Girls" and "I Want It All" proved to be sing-along favorites after that.

The third section included "A Kind of Magic" (and Brian May's "magic" sparks-shooting guitar!), "Don't Stop Me Now," and a rousing sing-along "Somebody to Love," where Lambert's stellar vocals outshone any of the amusing pyrotechnics.

Adam Lambert at the Nov. 8 Queen Chase Center concert.  

A highlight of that section was also Lambert's use a close-up camera in front of a "mirror" as he primped and sipped champagne (naturally) for "Killer Queen," yet another song where his camp sensibility and sense of humor really shined.

As they've done since the 1970s, Brian May, still a master of guitar at 76, then took to a solo moment for an acoustic set with the very romantic "Love of My Life" and his futuristic folk classic, "'39."

Roger Taylor then banged out an impressive drum solo, which led into the finger-snapping classic, "Under Pressure." While former bassist John Deacon was not acknowledged onstage, his presence was felt as the famous bass hook began.

The band then segued into a slightly altered version of "Tie Your Mother Down," followed by the traditional rhythm, then the Elvis-esque "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," which Lambert completely mastered.

The fifth section of the concert started with "I Want to Break Free." The song's witty drag music video was a hit on European TV but did not work well for American audiences back in the day. Fortunately, those attitudes are long-gone, at least for Queen fans, who've embraced Lambert, an out gay artist.

In this concert version, some lucky (and probably wealthy) fans enjoyed box seats behind the stage as the projections turned the stage into a rococo theater.

Brian May at the Queen+Adam Lambert concert Nov. 8 Chase Center concert. (photo: Dana Jacobs)  

Brian May then indulged in an expanded guitar solo as he rose up through (projected video of) outer space as a huge meteor and various planets rose and fell as he guided them. Many fans know that Brian May's early college studies were in astrophysics, so the outer space theme was totally appropriate and visually stunning.

Originally created for Live Aid, Freddie Mercury's song, "Is This the World We Created?," co-written with May, offered a somber tone, followed by the rousing yet haunting anthem, "The Show Must Go On."

And then, the bands ultimate classic, "Bohemian Rhapsody," began. As they have done since their original concerts in the '70s, parts were recorded while the band waited in darkness to resume for the rousing finale. But with this new multimedia tour, we got to not only hear but also see excerpts of the classic music video that brought Queen to great fame.

After a pause, in a digitized version, Freddie Mercury (who died of AIDS in 1991) got to make another appearance with his famous "Ayo!" call and response. And of course, everyone joined in, even the stage crew we could see from a distance.

For the rousing encore of "We Will Rock You," the projection screens showed an animated version of the iconic giant robot from the "News of the World" album cover. The audience double-clapped along to the reprise of "Radio Gaga" and then sang along to the expected closer, "We Are the Champions."

After the band took their bows for the traditional recorded playing of "God Save the Queen," you could feel the sense of warm satisfaction that patrons had as they left the Chase Center. Even the packed Muni train was still full of good cheer as people commented on the show.

Queen plays their second concert at the Chase Center on November 9, 8pm ($79 and up), with final U.S. concerts Nov. 11 and 12 at BMA Stadium in Los Angeles. Get your tickets now.


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