British rock group Queen finally heads for Bangkok, with Adam Lambert providing the strut
QUITE APART from the incredible music in store, there are three interesting aspects to the September 30 concert by rock group Queen coming up at Impact Arena.
The first is that this isn’t precisely Queen – they’re calling themselves a Queen tribute band. The second is that Queen have never performed in Thailand before.
And the third is that Adam Lambert, who’s been filling in for the late great original vocalist Freddie Mercury since 2014, was born when Queen were already 12 years into their career.
But, like Mercury, Lambert is flamboyant as hell, so he’s a perfect fit.
Lambert, who stormed to fame as a winner of the “American Idol” singing contest on television, has by all accounts been doing justice to Mercury’s memory on his “Queen + Adam Lambert” tours with the founding guitarist and drummer, Brian May and Roger Taylor. (Original bassist John Deacon retired in 1997.)
Lambert brings his own talent and personality to the gigs while matching Mercury for showmanship. Taylor and May have said he’s a perfect fit, especially with younger generations now tuning in to Queen online.
“I didn’t think some of the tribute bands were all that good,” Taylor tells The Nation. “They were just like a pantomime, a theatrical version of me. They weren’t playing the music very well.”
And here’s Taylor and Lambert assessing the situation as they roll towards Bangkok.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT CARRYING ON AFTER FREDDIE MERCURY’S DEATH IN 1991.
Taylor: Brian and I thought that was really the end of our band. We’d had an incredible run and we were always going to miss our friend – it could never be the same without him. For years we didn’t do very much. We put out one album, which we’d started recording with Freddie, and called it “Made in Heaven”, but we didn’t even think about touring.
Then we met Adam and ended up doing a few experimental shows. It was a dynamite coupling for us – we really work well together. It’s given Brian and I a whole new lease on life.
Lambert: I was a kid when I first heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the movie “Wayne’s World”. And I’d hear their songs at the sporting events – “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. But I didn’t really know their music until I was in my 20s and I saw footage of Freddie Mercury performing on television. He was wearing white shorts and no shoes, and I just thought, “That guy is so free! He’s such a rock star!”
THERE IS AN “OFFICIAL” QUEEN TRIBUTE BAND, CALLED THE QUEEN EXTRAVAGANZA.
Taylor: Queen has so many tribute bands, but I thought that some of them weren’t so good, you know, and I decided to set up one. I thought, “I’ll set up a really great one, find some incredible musicians who could play our music properly.”
ADAM HAS SAID HE ‘S NOT AIMING TO BE |“THE SECOND FREDDIE”, BUT ARE THERE MOMENTS WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S |QUEEN OF THE OLD DAYS?
Taylor: A lot of the time it feels like Queen of the old days! Obviously he’s not Freddie, he’s himself, and he has his own great personality, very funny at times. But it’s his voice that’s so extraordinarily good. He can sing all the notes, all those big Freddie notes. There are songs like “Who Wants to Live Forever” that, when he sings, I see people crying.
Lambert: When we first started working together I felt a lot of pressure. It was terrifying. I knew there’d be a lot of comparing. Obviously Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest singers of all time and he was such an icon.
It was really important for me to make sure that I wasn’t imitating him onstage because that would be disrespectful. But I also needed to figure out a way to sing these songs so that they weren’t too different from the originals, because the originals were so amazing.
I think I’ve figured out a nice balance between making it my own and keeping the integrity of the songs. For me the really important questions I always ask myself are what’s the intention of the song, what’s it meant to make the audience feel and what’s it about?
WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING SONGS?
Lambert: “The Show Must Go On” is pretty intense – that’s a tricky one!
IF YOU COULD DO A DUET WITH FREDDIE, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Lambert: That’s a really hard question. I’d like to sing all of them with him. But I think it might be “Who Wants to Live Forever”. That would be wild.
ROGER, YOU’RE 67 AND MUST BE GETTING A BUZZ OUT OF BEING ONSTAGE AGAIN AND MEETING MORE FANS AROUND THE WORLD.
Taylor: We enjoy it. We’ve been doing quite a lot in the last two years. It’s fantastic. It makes me feel young again.
One of the surprising things is a lot of the audience is very young. You’d expect a mainly older audience, but we get a lot of people, 18, 19, 20 as well. It’s very gratifying.
DO YOU THINK THERE’LL EVER AGAIN BE ANOTHER BAND LIKE THE ORIGINAL QUEEN?
Taylor: I really don’t know. There have been so many great bands that came out the ’60s and ’70s that you know immediately, like the Beach Boys. I don’t see anybody particularly like that right now, but who knows? You never know where the next big thing is coming from.
Let’s hope there’s one around the corner.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE SHOW?
Taylor: This’ll be a very spectacular show. All these years we’ve never
played in Bangkok, so we better make it very good. With Adam Lambert I think we have one of the best singers in the world. He looks fantastic, he’s funny, he sings beautifully and he is a great showman. He’s the only person that really fills in the boots of Freddie Mercury.
Lambert: We’ve really worked really hard at figuring out how to best present these songs, so it’s not going to be vastly different than what we’ve been doing this year. The festivals we did in Europe were amazing – they worked very well with the audience – and now they’re putting a bit more into the stage design. We have extra little bells and whistles that will be fun – new equipment, new technology. And I’ll probably change up my outfits a little bit!
The writers wish to thank RockOnRadio.FM and DJ. JJ of 105.5 Eazy FM for their help with the interviews.
THEY WILL ROCK YOU
- Catch Queen + Adam Lambert at Impact Arena in Muang Thong Thani on September 30. Doors open at 7.30pm.
- Seats cost Bt2,000 to Bt8,000 at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com and there will be 12 VIP lounges right onstage, each priced at Bt40,000.