Concert Review: Queen + Adam Lambert – Mt Smart Stadium, February 7, 2020

Queen + Adam Lambert brought a visually magnificent concert to Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium last night, dazzling with a handful of spectacular moments and the overwhelming power of the Queen discography.

Everyone has a handful of Queen stories, and there are few bands or musicians who have manifested such a sustained, positive and empowering effect in me through their music. My first exposure to Queen was through Greatest Hits – an album of wild, kaleidoscopic musical energy – which became a persistent soundtrack throughout my childhood and adult life.

Queen + Adam Lambert captured a vital part of that playful energy in their performance last night, with a two-hour set featuring a bejewelled Harley-Davidson, a 10-minute solo from Brian May while standing atop an asteroid and soaring through the galaxy, and every crucial, stadium-chanting live Queen number.

The on-stage visual display was phenomenal, from crushed velvet curtains parting to reveal band members, to May’s mind-bending space solo and increasingly extravagant light displays throughout the evening. These began with an opening recording of Innuendo, as the group took to the stage through roars from the stadium and quickly moved into Now I’m Here, with the seated crowd rising to their feet in unison at the anticipation for the set ahead.

Seven Seas of Rhye featured the first wild and distorted guitar solo from Brian May, which he seemed to just pour from his fingers with joyful, masterful ease, before moving into the distorted scratch groove of Keep Yourself Alive. Purple lights drenched the stage as Adam Lambert suggestively fanned himself through Killer Queen, before speaking to the crowd about Freddie Mercury, and attesting that he was, himself, just a fan, trying his best to celebrate that appreciation.

While it’s an easy tactic to pre-emptively avoid criticism, it also felt entirely true; Lambert has an astounding voice, but it’s not the voice of Freddie Mercury. The two songs that followed, Don’t Stop Me Now and Somebody to Love, however, showed that Lambert is more than capable of captivating a stadium with his combination of pageantry performance and raw vocal strength. This escalated to majestic proportions when, a few songs later, he appeared on-stage to sing Bicycle Race while sitting on a sparkling Harley-Davidson, before strutting the stage during Fat Bottomed Girls a few minutes later.

The slow, aching vocals and twisted guitar of I Want It All paved the way for another phenomenal guitar solo by May, rising into a finale of crashing drums and screaming guitar below pulsating stage lights, however his brief acoustic set a few songs later brought one of the most touching moments of the night, as he performed Love Of My Life alongside a video-recording of Mercury.

 Roger Taylor took a short break from the drums to share the microphone with Lambert on Doing All Right, before the group resumed with a deep, torturously gorgeous rock solo in Crazy Little Thing Called Love and the spotlight drumming of Under Pressure. May introduced the supporting band, including Queen-regulars Tyler Warren, Neil Fairclough, and Spike Edney, as the group moved into the grimy funk bass of Dragon Attack and one of the cohesive band highlights of the evening in the flawless I Was Born To Love You.

I Want To Break Free saw the stadium drenched in spinning mirror ball reflections, as smoke filled the air and wide beams of stage light spread across the arena, drenching the air above the crowd in multi-coloured swirls of neon as the group move into You Take My Breath Away and the beautiful harmonising of Who Wants To Live Forever.

May’s spotlight, extended guitar solo was truly magnificent; rising above the stage as though being raised into the air on an asteroid, a sleeve of red and a halo of rock-god hair against a silhouette of his guitar, weaving a slow, electric-heartbreak piece with the patient intensity of Neil Young’s Dead Man. The group closed with a brilliant trio of The Show Must Go On, Radio Ga Ga, and Bohemian Rhapsody, each successive piece growing in intensity as the stage burst its final, impressive curtains of light.

 An encore featured Freddie Mercury performing his famous crowd-controlling Ay-Oh, before a stadium-chanting finale of We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions closed the evening beneath a vibrant explosion of confetti. In the end, it felt very much like that first time listening to Queen; 10 hours of concert compressed into two, and playful, borderline-manic energy which can feel like a collection of individual songs instead of a unified set.

But just like that first time, it took less than a few songs for it win me over, for me to revel in the experience of seeing great musicians perform with grace and exquisite beauty. It reminded me why I truly love and value Queen and everything they have offered the world; that it is the rarest of music, a kind which only brings us together with a positive, empowering energy, and which somehow makes us feel closer both to those in our arms, and those no longer in our lives.

~Oxford Lamoureaux

Click any image below to view a full gallery from David Watson

Queen + Adam Lambert Setlist

Innuendo (Recording)
Now I’m Here
Seven Seas of Rhye
Keep Yourself Alive
Hammer to Fall
Killer Queen
Don’t Stop Me Now
Somebody to Love
In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
I’m in Love With My Car
Bicycle Race
Fat Bottomed Girls
Another One Bites the Dust
I Want It All
Love of My Life (with Freddie Mercury)
Doing All Right
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Under Pressure
Dragon Attack
I Was Born to Love You
I Want to Break Free
You Take My Breath Away
Who Wants to Live Forever
Brian May Guitar Solo
Tie Your Mother Down
The Show Must Go On
Radio Ga Ga
Bohemian Rhapsody


Ay‐Oh (Freddie Mercury Recording)
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
God Save the Queen –  (Recording)