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Queen and Adam Lambert take SSE by storm

Despite Freddie Mercury’s passing being two years before my birth, there will forever be a Yellow-Leather-Jacket-Shaped hole in my heart, which no man, woman nor non-binary being will ever quite fill. Fortunately, Adam Lambert maintains his own shining, studded and gem encrusted glam-rock pedestal right beside it, and suggests you explore the museum of outfits. That said, I thought about writing and re-writing this review about five times during the course of last night’s Queen + Adam Lambert concert at Belfast’s SSE Arena…

It started well enough, as Lambert began singing without much ado yet with his usual high standard of showmanship. After about four songs he was finally introduced before he disappeared off for a costume change, reappearing as a gloriously heeled, vision in plum and putting Marie Antoinette to shame as he coquettishly perched atop a giant robotic head. Quite a few lewd jokes ensued. And as the ice continued to break, Lambert discussed the privilege and awe he maintained in performing with two living legends of rock, Brian May and Roger Taylor, expressing continuing disbelief at this honour bestowed on him, entirely genuinely I believe. He then addressed the elephant in the room, or stadium, as it were. To paraphrase, “I am not Freddie Mercury, I can’t replace him, but I am honoured, as a fan who is himself as dedicated as all of you, to pay tribute to him, and to celebrate his life and contribution to music [among other things].” My God I do love this man. Cocky male swagger while gender-bending the hell out of some heels AND humility? I’m coming over all faint. But he couldn’t play it any other way, because he’s entirely correct.

However I think with all business concluded, things started to drift somewhat. Around half-nine I was dying for a burger. About a quarter to ten I wanted a fag, and was considering a fine for it. By ten I really had wished I’d gone to the loo, eaten and quit smoking when I said I would as, between each of the musicians, we’d had twenty minutes of solos and instrumentals and a guitar rendition of ‘The Londonderry Air’ which felt quite out of place. However, May had delivered a touching tribute to his late, always great, friend Fred, firstly solo-singing and then accompanying him acoustically across the decades as Freddie was projected on screen closing the song “Love of My Life.” Still, I think I personally got caught up in the thought, and consequent reality, of Adam Lambert in red leather trousers when I bought my tickets, mistakenly thinking or maybe hoping for a blend of Queen music and some of Lambert’s soaring soprano notes in his own music. Instead, this is a tribute to Freddie Mercury, done with taste and sensitivity, and a celebration of Queen, geared more at the die-hard Queen fan than anyone else. As I said to my friend about the lady in front of us who was smashing out the clap-reography to “Radio GaGa,” while her mate punctuated nearly every breath with a Mercurian arm in the air, “I think this is their party, and we’re just invited.”

Pictured sourced from SSE arena Instagram

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