Queen. 1.12.17. Newcastle Arena.

iHeartRadio Music Festival - Show - Day 1

Queen deserve complete credit for their drive to produce live shows which match the intensity and dramatic performances of their very best.

Given that some of those moments remain benchmarks in excellence for stadium rock (Live Aid, Live in Rio, etc.) and that the charisma of Freddie was such that he is still held as one of the greatest frontmen ever, only the very cruel would forgive the band for ‘doing a Ringo’, taking early retirement, and living safe in the knowledge that very few artists produce such a great body of savvy pop.

Now 70, and Deacon-less for 20 years, the ambitions of Queen appear directed toward Brian May, lead guitar extraordinaire and contender for most vocal social media eco warrior.  It’s he who, seemingly, carries the creative and musical pressure of ensuring Queen perform not just to the capability their age allows, but also to the standard set decades ago.  Never has the phrase ‘under pressure’ meant so much.

And yet, if you simplify the evening, there’s no real pressure; the sell-out crowd being happy to see, let alone hear, their heroes, and Queens back catalogue being so great that whatever they decide to play it’ll be exemplary pop music.

Realistically, all that’s needed is a strong interpretation of pops finest gems, and a strong vocal delivery from prodigious talent Adam Lambert.  And, of course, we get both.  Sensitive, emotive in parts, inclusive and humorous the band reign supreme.   May is the central figure, still awe inspiring with his playing and still able to say just the right thing at the right time; a nod to Freddie here, a joke with the crowd there but always focused on keeping the legacy of his friend alive for all to enjoy.

Really, this had no right to be as good as it was.

 

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