Frances Winston reviews ‘Queen and Adam Lambert’, who played Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, in Dublin on Sunday, July 8th 2018. The band were supported by The Darkness, and The Boomtown Rats.
Queen fans must have done something right, as less than 7 months after their last show here, the rock legends once again graced us with their presence.
Brian May and Roger Taylor may be getting on a bit now (May is 70 and Taylor 68) but they have the stamina of performers half their age. Their successful collaboration with American Pop Idol Runner up, 36-year-old Adam Lambert, has seen them embraced by a whole new audience, and has the seal of approval (on the whole) from the hard-core Queen fans, who love the fact that it allows them to still perform the hits they love so well.
When I reviewed their show in November, I gushed about it. It was indeed spectacular. They had a fantastic set and lighting. Lambert camped it up to high heaven, and never tried to imitate Freddie. Roger and Brian were astonishing. It was a damn near-perfect gig.
Which is probably why they have opted to pretty much change nothing on this current tour. The elaborate stage featuring their iconic News Of The World album-cover character, Frank, is still there. As are the stunning lights, and of course Lambert’s flamboyantly OTT costumes.
It could well have been a sense of déjà vu for this reviewer, aside from the stunning setting, which really elevated this to a whole other level. There really is nothing like Ireland when the sun shines, and the perfect weather and lush surroundings of Marlay Park made for a really chilled-out festival feel.
Support act, The Darkness, took to the stage five minutes before their advertised 6pm kick off and were greeted warmly. Their current drummer is Roger Taylor’s son, Rufus, which may explain why they were on the bill, but they proved they deserved it with a powerhouse performance culminating in their best-known hit, I Believe in a Thing Called Love. They only played for 30-odd minutes, which seemed quite a short set. They were only finding their stride and it was time for them to depart the stage.
They were followed by Dublin music-legends, The Boomtown Rats. They may only have two songs that most people could easily name, but boy did Bob Geldof milk them. They played well over their allotted time, and I have to say they were surprisingly good, even if Geldof is getting a bit old for the ‘angry young man’ routine.
Of course, everyone was there to see Queen, and when they took to the stage the crowd went wild. This is a band that has a truly hard-core fan base, and boy did they make their voices heard.
Although they had adapted the stage slightly for the outdoor venue, not much had changed since I saw them in November. Lambert is still full of swagger, and Taylor and May are – well – Taylor and May. And of course the songs are timeless, with each one a guaranteed singalong. And the crowd were note-perfect as they added their voices to the hits, such as Crazy Little Thing Called Love, I Want To Break Free, Who Wants To Live Forever, and of course the band’s opus, Bohemian Rhapsody.
There are a couple of lovely and touching moments. Brian May paid tribute to his all-time hero, Rory Gallagher, which drew loud cheers, Roger Taylor was joined on stage by his son, Rufus, for a drum-battle and, most poignantly, and something that is now a feature of all their shows, Freddie appeared on the screens to lead the crowd in his famous day-o chant. This brought a tear to the eyes of many in the audience, and it is clear he is still held in extremely high regard by the fans.
I spoke to people who had seen other shows on the tour, and they did lament the set-list, saying they would like them to mix it up a bit. But for those hearing it for the first or second time, it was pretty perfect.
I’m not sure playing God Save the Queen at the end was a very wise choice. It definitely ruffled a few feathers, and had the potential to offend those of certain political leanings. Yes, they usually finish their shows with it elsewhere, but there’s a time and a place! However, this is a minor quibble about what was an otherwise fantastic show, aided by the fantastic weather. Carlsberg don’t do gigs but if they did…