Queen guitarist Brian May blows the Newt away in Vancouver


photos by “Jet” Sutherland


By Steve Newton

Freddie Mercury is a hard act to follow, there’s no doubt about that. The Queen frontman possessed one of the greatest voices in rock, and anyone who’s seen him live at his peak in the seventies can testify that he was a truly riveting performer.

Mercury’s death from AIDS in 1991, at the age of 45, didn’t stop Queen from touring, but it took them a while to get back on track. It wasn’t until 2005 that the band ventured out again as Queen + Paul Rodgers, with the former singer from Free, Bad Company, and the Firm joining Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor on stage (Queen bassist John Deacon opted out of the gig).

Now May and Taylor have recruited a frontman exactly half Rodgers’ age–32-year-old American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert–to carry on the Queen flame, and judging by his showing at Rogers Arena last night, it wasn’t a bad call.

The concert opened with the multitracked guitar instrumental “Procession” from 1974’s Queen II before a huge curtain bearing the majestic Queen logo was pulled away to coincide with May’s delivery of the monster guitar riff from “Now I’m Here”, a heavy rocker from the 1974 Sheer Heart Attack album.

The raucous vibe continued with another Sheer Heart Attack number, the frenzied “Stone Cold Crazy”, before the familiar bass line from the band’s best-selling single, the Deacon-penned “Another One Bites the Dust”, made its presence known. May took the opportunity to inject some wild fuzz sounds into the tune via his “Red Special”, the reddish-brown guitar custom-built by him and his dad.

By the time Queen was halfway through its fourth number, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, it was obvious that Lambert’s vocals lack that special something that made Mercury’s–or even Rodgers‘–stand out. But the openly gay singer’s flamboyant performing style, charming audience interaction, and heavily accessorized glam-rock look went a long way toward making up for the relative blandness of his voice.

“Whaddya think of the new boy?” asked May after a performance of the 1981 Queen/David Bowie collaboration “Under Pressure”, and the resounding applause made it clear that Lambert had impressed the vast majority of the crowd. Still, whenever Queen brought Mercury’s vocals back via video, as it did briefly on “Love of My Life” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you could tell their original crooner was in another league altogether.

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And no matter how many fans Lambert won over during the night, he couldn’t really wrest the spotlight away from the mighty May. The sheer joy that the 66-year-old rocker emanates–whether in straightforward boogie mode (“Tie Your Mother Down”), while dabbling in sci-fi skiffle (’39), or during pseudo-operatic excursions (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)–is a wonder to behold.

God bless Brian May.

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1. “Now I’m Here”

2. “Stone Cold Crazy”

3. “Another One Bites the Dust”

4. “Fat Bottomed Girls”

5. “In the Lap of the Gods…Revisited”

6. “Seven Seas of Rhye”

7. “Killer Queen”

8. “Somebody to Love”

9. “I Want It All”

10. “Love of My Life”

11. “’39”

12: “These Are the Days of Our Lives”

13. “Under Pressure”

14. “Love Kills”

15. “Who Wants to Live Forever”

16. Guitar Solo

17. “Tie Your Mother Down”

18. “Radio Ga Ga”

19. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

20. “The Show Must Go On”

21. “Bohemian Rhapsody”


22. “We Will Rock You”

23. “We Are the Champions”

2 thoughts on “Queen guitarist Brian May blows the Newt away in Vancouver

  1. I almost feel guilty saying this, but I totally disagree with many of your comments. The concert was fantastic on all levels: vocals, guitar and drum musicianship, lighting, staging, song selecton, audience, etc. Brian and Roger ( Neil and Spike, too) were phenomenal! But Adam Lambert had a bland voice?? No way! He blew the roof off the venue and the cheers when Brian asked the fans about ‘the new guy’ attest to that. Now the guilty part- I am a huge Queen and Freddie Mercury fan, but I felt Lambert’s vocals when he sang with Freddie only showed how much better Adam Lambert’s vocals are than FM’s. I doubt AL would agree with me, but many people in the audience did. Even went back to listen to some older recordings of Freddie singing these songs to reinforce my opinion. Adam’s voice is unbelievable.

    1. Hi Steve, just admiring the awesome pics that my son Jet took and hope they do posters it is so amazing. I think he missed his calling, and from an I phone no less, Brian May is awesome himself and I know that pics like that are one in a million. Posters and tees,hats are never as cool as I have seen hundreds with you bro. I would sell my teeth to buy one, Hope this gets to Brian cause he is my hero and that Jet is my son,thanks for taking him.Your the best. Love the older Newt.

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