Photos and review by Bill Bungard
Standing at the end of the runway stage in the photo pit with my other media photographer buddies in a packed Tacoma Dome, I felt the anticipation of the audience while getting my camera gear together and awaiting the Queen + Adam Lambert Rhapsody Tour to start – not knowing that I was also getting ready to experience one of the best arena rock shows I have seen to date. The joke in the pit was that the show had not started yet because Adam wasn’t finished with his makeup and hair.
The lights dim, the curtain drops and original Queen members of 49 years – guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor – appeared in silhouette playing once again but for the first time at the Tacoma Dome. The stage lights go on and up steps Adam Lambert. I am allotted three songs (about 8 minutes) to capture the essence of the show before I must put my camera away.
Lambert appears in a shiny black and gold suit with a black ruffled shirt, belting out his vocals. Flamboyancy: check. He is sporting his pompadour, ornate brass mic standing next to a brass scepter shaped mic stand. He looks like he is mirroring the offspring of a young Elvis/George Michael. His vocals amidst May’s guitar playing in front of Roger’s kit, sounded and looked great!
After taking my photos and putting my gear away, I left my photography station to “Killer Queen” and then Lambert addressed the crowd. “You all are thinking that this is not Freddie Mercury, you are right – I’m not Freddie. Everybody loves Freddie (the crowd cheers). I love Freddie also so we have something in common (crowd cheers).” He expresses his gratitude being able to play with May and Taylor for the past eight years and the band starts playing “Don’t Stop me Now.”
Taylor performed vocals while playing drums for “I’m in Love With My Car,” showing that he still has his chops.
Set changes ensued, with Adam being raised from the stage on a motorcycle and dressed in spiked leathers and spiked chrome mic performing “Bicycle Race” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” With screens and projections all over the stage with blinding and bouncing laser lights, “Radio GaGa” was performed to perfection.
The stage dimmed and May comes down to the end of the runway stage with an acoustic guitar to perform Freddie’s, “Love of My Life,” showcased in the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and written for Mary Austin, Mercury’s ex fiancé and best friend. The Dome was lit up with cell phones and toward the end of the song, Freddie appeared on the big screen taking the audience back in time.
Another highlight of the night was the band at the end of the runway where Lambert did a little imitation of Elvis and the three band mates rocked out “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The chemistry among Lambert, May and Taylor was evident; I truly believe that Lambert reminds them of the memory of Freddie. Taylor starts pounding out “Under Pressure” on the drums and Lambert syncs in. If I had any question of Lamber’s vocals, they were dissipated when he hit the high notes of the song. Afterward, Taylor high-fived Lambert, acknowledging the synchronicity that just occurred.
Next up was 71-year-old May showcasing his guitar prowess elevated high on the stage onto a projected asteroid in a space scene of planets where he let his riffs loose. Lights, lasers, disco ball flashed reflected beams of white light through out the dome.
Ever hear 19,000-plus sing Bohemian Rhapsody? Well, no one could resist, as Lambert nailed it with May coming out with Champions mask and space suit with all experiencing the special moment.
Was the show over? No!
Freddie Mercury reappears on the screen performing “Ay-0h” that was recorded at Wembley Stadium in 1986 – another special moment paying homage to the musical great.
Once again, Queen reappears with Adam Lambert in a royal crushed velvet cloak and a crown performing “We Will Rock You” to a stomping and clapping crowed.
Friday night turned out to be one of the best arena rock shows to hit the Tacoma Dome. A sign of a truly great concert is that the music and visuals are still in your head days later. Some people have said that Lambert was channeling Freddie, but what I can say is that he and Queen quenched my thirst for great music from one of my all-time favorite bands.
See more photos from the concert at www.BillBungard.com.
Now I’m Here
Seven Seas of Rhye
Keep Yourself Alive
Hammer to Fall
Don’t Stop Me Now
In the Lap of the Gods…Revisited
Somebody to Love
The Show Must Go On
I’m in Love With My Car
Fat Bottomed Girls
Machines (Or ‘Back to Humans’)
Radio Ga Ga
Love of My Life
Queen cover) (Freddie on screen for the end of the song)
Doing All Right
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
I Want to Break Free
You Take My Breath Away
Who Wants to Live Forever
Guitar Solo (Brighton Rock)
Tie Your Mother Down
Another One Bites the Dust
I Want It All
Ay-Oh (Freddie appears on screen, recordED at Wembley Stadium 1986)
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions