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Rock Legends Queen, Take the Stage

Updated: Jan 29

Two nights of Queen in San Francisco!

Sir Brian May, Roger Taylor of Queen and band along with Adam Lambert on vocals, took the stage at The Chase Center in San Francisco for two sold outs performances. They played a lot of the Queen hits that everyone came to hear for two hours. Throughout the show, there was video of Freddie Mercury including a good deal of Freddie on audio backing some songs. The times where Freddie appeared were my favorite moments of the night.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Sir Brian May and Roger Taylor played like the pros that they are. And as usual, Mays' guitar emanates a sound like none other. Last time I saw Queen, about seven years ago, I hadn't realized that aside from Mays' master guitar skills, he also has his own Brian May special edition Guild guitar. Both are contributing factors of why he sounds like no one else. And Roger Taylor, the other rock legend in this band, was keeping the back beat to the songs that he's been drumming to since the band formed in the UK, in 1970 to complete the Queen signature sound.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Queens' stage setup had a very 'techno/futuristic' look to it, including Adam Lamberts attire. If you're unfamiliar with Adam Lambert, he comes from American Idol's eighth season (2009), when he finished second. He is 41 years old and has been touring with Taylor and May for ten years. They are billed as, "Queen with Adam Lambert" which is an apt name for this incarnation of this great rock band from the 70s. Freddie Mercury, Queens original lead singer, died in 1991 at the age of 45. No one will ever come close to filling Freddies' shoes and that's why billing Queen as "Queen with Adam Lambert" is appropriate.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

I've always loved Queen, and the Queen catalogue of tunes throughout the years. Some of their hits were beyond mere songs and became anthems of my youth. The drum beat of "We will rock you" is a basic for any wanna be drummer like myself. As far as this tour goes...My opinion on todays' Queen is probably in the minority. I went to the show with an open mind about Lambert as lead vocalist. I saw him with Queen towards the beginning of his joining the band. I didn't think much of his band membership back then, but sometimes it takes a while for a replacement lead vocalist to feel the music and become a better fit. I felt the same about Yes a few years ago when John Anderson was replaced by Jon Davison. The comparison I had with Davison from the beginning of his joining the band to a couple weeks ago when I saw them again was a huge improvement as I declared in my blog of Yes in Napa from their Halloween show: https://www.themusicsoup.com/post/celebrating-decades-of-prog-rock-in-napa-with-yes. So this time around with Queen I went into wanting the same thing for Lambert. Sadly, I came out of the Chase Center feeling the same as I did from the first time I saw Queen play with him. And I completely understand that many or possibly even most people that see this show, probably love Lambert with Queen. I don't mind Lambert as a solo act but I feel that Lambert is not the ingredient Queen needs for this legendary rock band. And again...filling Mercurys shoes is a near impossible task. Regarding Adam Lambert as a performer....I feel that Lambert has a good voice, he knows the lyrics, he sings Queen songs 'fine' but he gives the band a 'On Broadway or Las Vegas musical' feel rather than a 'rock band' vibe as they were and have been for decades. As he 'plays' as himself. Rather "show-girly" rather than a rockstar as Mercury was. I can see someone like Steven Tyler fronting this band. Or a decade ago+ when Paul Rodgers was on vocals. But I didn't get to see that incarnation nor have I seen them live with Freddie, (sadly). I do realize that Freddie cannot be replaced, just like if RUSH were to get another drummer and continue without Neil Peart. Or when The Who lost Keith Moon I thought the same when Kenny Jones and a few others tried to replace him. But now they have Zak Starkey and in my opinion Starkey is a perfect fit for The Who even though his style is not the same as Moon, he just fits.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

However, this Queen show did take on the 'rock band feel' when Roger Taylor and Brian May had their solos during the show. And of course during those random times when they played Freddie via video. I also detected a lot of Freddies' audios as backing vocals during the evening. There was even a video of Rufus Taylor (Roger Taylors' drummer son that plays with The Darkness). At one point Sir Brian May sat at the top of the catwalk during the show and did an acoustic version of "Love my Life" accompanied by Freddie both in audio and video. That was a very heartwarming part of the evening indeed. Towards the end of the show they played a video of Freddie Mercury by himself (below) doing an intro at the beginning of We Will Rock You. And Freddies' presence in the Bohemian Rhapsody part of the show when the songs' video was also shown, with the original Queen members. Sadly, I never saw Queen whilst Freddie was alive. But if I were in charge of the Queen shows in the future I'd love to see an entire Queen show with Freddie Mercury as a hologram doing their lead vocals for the entire show playing alongside Taylor and May. I'm pretty sure technology is capable of this feat. I'm also pretty sure that it won't ever happen. Again...just my opinion! As always, my opinion is just 'my' opinion....so I like to ask others for their opinions of the show, and my friend, Stu Chambers, another frequent live music lover was there as well and this is what Stuart had to say: "Queen with Adam Lambert was highly entertaining. The pyrotechnics, flashy costumes, laser lights and elaborate stage art added to the top-notch musical performances. As billed: Queen with Adam Lambert delivered the classic live music of Queen and Adam was flamboyantly himself enabling us all to enjoy hearing Brian May kill it on guitar and Roger Talyor on drums."

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Apart from Roger Taylor and Sir Brian May....Queens' band members presently consist of Adam Lambert vocals, Spike Edney keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals, Neil Fairclough bass, backing vocals, Tyler Warren percussion, drums, backing vocals.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

All in all, I am so grateful for being able to witness and capture such musical legends such as Sir Brian May and Roger Taylor. Seeing them perform the songs I've known and loved all my life was awesome. I'm glad they are still playing music for us all to keep in our hearts and memories and I look forward to seeing again, Queen next time they roll into town.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023


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