Outside SAP Center in San Jose following Sunday night’s Queen concert, one of the band’s more mature female fans commented about how Adam Lambert has given the group renewed life. Indeed.
As the English group approaches its 50th anniversary, it’s sounding and looking as royal as ever. The capacity crowd at the arena included old fans and plenty of new ones, too.
Original members — guitarist Brian May, 71, and drummer Roger Taylor, 69 — are enjoying popularity (again), thanks not only to Lambert, who joined nearly a decade ago, but to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the hit 2018 Queen biopic starring the Oscar-winning Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.
On Sunday, Lambert’s first remarks were, “No. I am not Freddie Mercury. There’s only one Freddie Mercury. And he’s a god.” He asked the audience to join him in celebrating the band’s inimitable frontman who died in 1991.
And so the nearly two-and-a-half hour concert of more than a dozen tunes spanning the group’s long career was a celebration.
It opened with the lesser-known “Now I’m Here” from 1974’s “Sheer Heart Attack,” Queen’s third album.
Other numbers also had “Bohemian Rhapsody” movie scene tie-ins: The band played “Doing All Right” (from before Mercury joined the group) and the heart-touching “Love of My Life.” May, whose electric guitar blazed throughout much of the show, sat with an acoustic guitar in the center of the arena for the ballad, while cell phone lights added atmosphere and Mercury, via the magic of video technology, joined in.
Queen also played “I Want to Break Free,” another pivotal film scene with Mercury in drag.
Lambert, 37, who changed clothes five times during the show, sounded great throughout. Attired in a shiny gold-and-black suit, the first of the flamboyant outfits, he sang a great version of “Killer Queen” atop a grand piano at the side of the stage.
Later, wearing a black jacket with silver epaulets, he lounged on a motorcyle that raised up from the floor at the arena’s center on “Bicycle Race.”
He wore a flaming red-and-black shirt and slacks for the Elvis-inspired “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and was in all silver, with fringe, for “I Want It All.”
To close the show, he had full-on glittering regalia, complemented by wild platform boots that Prince would have admired. (The show’s most fun video effects were images of an ornate theater and palace interiors.)
Die-hard fans appreciated “‘39,” scientist May’s rarely performed time-travel song, as well as his obligatory, lengthy guitar solo, performed with cool moon-and space lighting and video effects.
On the more recent front, an effective version of “Under Pressure” featured Taylor on the David Bowie vocals.
Only missing “You’re My Best Friend,” the show touched on hits large and small, from “Radio Ga Ga,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Tie Your Mother Down” to the seminal “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with a recording featuring original members vocalizing on the famous operatic pass.
Perhaps the best number was the super-relatable “Somebody to Love,” with a solid audience sing-along, but, not surprisingly, all ended very well, and appropriately, with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”