Lambert hits the high notes with Queen

American singer Adam Lambert (above) shone with his flamboyant take on Queen's songs.
American singer Adam Lambert (above) shone with his flamboyant take on Queen's songs.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH



Padang Stage/Last Saturday

Singer Adam Lambert must have one of the toughest jobs in the modern music world - standing in for the late Freddie Mercury of the British band Queen, who is widely regarded as one of the most dynamic frontmen in the history of rock 'n' roll.

But as his performance at British rock icons Queen's gig here at the Singapore Grand Prix last Saturday would attest, the former American Idol finalist can hold his own in the situation. He had his flamboyant take on the band's canon of songs, many of which became rock classics long before he was even born.

Brimming with confidence, 34- year-old Lambert, who first performed with the Queen members who are still alive and playing with the band - Brian May and Roger Taylor - in 2009, seemed very much aware that there was no point in trying to emulate Mercury's moves and singular singing style.

He could reach Mercury's incredibly wide vocal range with ease and, in songs like Somebody To Love, delivered the high notes more smoothly than the late singer did.

The band's two-hour-long set was visually grand, befitting of the massive Padang Stage, which, like in previous Formula One races, is the largest stage in the local concert scene. It was 46-year-old Queen's first gig in Singapore, while Lambert has sung here several times.

The 55,000-strong crowd sang along with gusto to rock anthems such as the foot-stomping We Will Rock You and the show closer, We Are The Champions.

The song selection ran like the band's Greatest Hits release - this was no setlist with deep album cuts to satiate hardcore fans, it was a populist collection filled with hits from the 1970s (Seven Seas Of Rhye, Somebody To Love) and the 1980s (Radio Ga Ga, I Want It All).

Mercury's presence loomed large in the show, from a virtual duet with Lambert in a majestic rendition of rock epic Bohemian Rhapsody via old video footage, to Lambert's monologue on the late singer and how he stood for the power of love.

May had plenty of moments in the spotlight too, from a visually and aurally stunning solo on a rising podium, complete with a fancy laser light show, to displaying his fine vocal chops on Love Of My Life, originally sung by Mercury.

Drummer Taylor shone in his solo segments, whether it was a drum duel with his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor, or channelling Mercury's vocals in the 1985 hit, A Kind Of Magic.

The band also paid tribute to the late rock icon David Bowie by playing a spirited rendition of their 1981 collaboration, Under Pressure.

Earlier in the night, fellow English band Bastille held their own in a decidedly more contemporary set.

Heavy on the keyboards and synthesizers, hook-filled millennial hits such as Pompeii and Things We Lost In The Fire were anthemic and had enough arena-rock brass to carry across the large audience.

What frontman Dan Smith lacked in cohesive dance moves, he made up for with enthusiasm.

Their hour-long set featured songs from their recently released second album, Wild World, as well as covers that included a moody take on TLC's R&B/pop classic, No Scrubs.

Still, their avid set could hardly compare with the electrifying atmosphere of Queen and Lambert's powerful performance. Somewhere up there, Mercury must be smiling.