"Nothing but quality."
In just the two years since Queen + Adam Lambert’s last journey Down Under, a lot has changed for the iconic UK rock outfit and their formidable new vocalist; mainly the release of 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which saw the band shift from arenas to epic stadiums for their 2020 return.
Few things are as rousing as a slow clap at a stadium rock concert, but such a classic sentiment paled in comparison to the low hum that snuffed out cheering as lights dimmed for the band’s grand entrance – and majestic it was.
A booming drum roll cut through the darkness and welcomed a score that made the Star Wars opening sequence sound like a lullaby, and then the unmistakable silhouette of guitar god Brian May appeared at the back of the stage between two drawn velvet curtains.
"Now I’m here," Lambert declared, making a bold first impression before taking a back seat and literally hiding in the shadows for Seven Seas Of Rhye, where May let loose.
It wouldn't be a stretch to rename the event The Brian May Show, with his classic, crisp guitar tone driving throughout most songs while his iconic locks gently waved in the breeze.
It was evident that Lambert's presence in the band wasn't to replace the irreplaceable Freddie Mercury, but rather help Queen celebrate his legacy and the band’s incredible music. The frontman pulled focus only when necessary, like in the soaring final chorus of Somebody To Love, where his flawless vocals were on display, or in songs such as Killer Queen or Bicycle Race where a more theatrical flaw was needed to carry the vocal melodies home.
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“To this day, I realise how lucky I am to be singing with this legendary band,” Lambert yelled. “Thank you for giving me a chance and for singing along as loud as you fucking can!”
From timeless pop-rock number Don't Stop Me Now to bold ballad In The Lap Of The Gods... Revisited and its haunting group vocal chorus resolve, the diversity of Queen's back catalogue meant there was never a dull moment. That sentiment echoed even louder when drummer Roger Taylor took lead vocal for I'm In Love With My Car, screaming his lungs out over a booming fill.
Children perched upon shoulders, passionately singing along to Fat Bottomed Girls, while comical, highlighted just how timeless Queen's music really is. The synchronised stamping shifted to deafening clapping for Another One Bites The Dust's chunky bass twang, and then almost everyone in attendance was shuffling when I Want It All's chorus hit.
Equipped with an acoustic guitar, May took a seat at the end of the runway and casually started jamming You're The Voice, the audience immediately singing "the national anthem" back to him; a call-back to Fire Fight Australia a week earlier where May performed on stage with John Farnham.
"It's a good thing you guys can sing, 'cause I'm going to need you now... This one was written by my friend Freddie many years ago."
But May didn't need any help with Love Of My Life and just when things couldn't get any more emotional, Mercury appeared on the screen alongside the guitarist to sing the song out to thousands of phone lights swaying in unison.
May welcomed their "own gift from God, Adam Lambert", back to stage to kick things up a notch with Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which saw the pair, joined by Taylor, rocking out at the end of the runway before a drum solo led into Under Pressure.
All members got to showcase the best of their abilities in Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love and Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel, Lambert reaching soaring new heights as the band created a wall of noise behind him.
No matter which way you cut it, a Queen setlist is nothing but quality AND quantity, the band wasting little time with banter and instead letting their respective abilities and the music do the talking, rolling through songs like I Want To Break Free and Who Wants To Live Forever back to back.
One of the evening's highlights came when May was raised above the stage, producing ambient and haunting guitar tones backed by the endless abyss of space. He slowing brought things back to earth after a masterclass on rock guitar and slid into Tie Your Mother Down.
Not that we needed any more convincing that Queen deliver one of the best shows out of any act past or present, the band offered up a show-stopping trio of The Show Must Go On, Radio Ga Ga and Bohemian Rhapsody to finish the set.
The band's biopic put them back in stadiums where they belong and that couldn't have been highlighted better than it was during the encore hits We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.