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Queen and Adam Lambert - O2 Arena, London, 20/6/2022

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 5 / 10 / 2022

Queen and Adam Lambert - O2 Arena, London, 20/6/2022

A week after I finally saw Queen and Adam Lambert live at the O2 London I sat down to write this review. Despite all of it being burnt into my memory (I have plenty of old stuff kicking about in there I was happy to sacrifice the space for), I decided to check out the opening on YouTube again to set the writing mood. I have wanted to see Queen for literally as long as I can remember. Long time and eagle-eyed readers will be aware of this fact, since I do shoehorn Queen and my love for them into every available column we run, be it in Ten Tracks That Made Me Love or the Image That Made Me Weep. And believe me on the 20th June 2022 I wept a lot. Getting into the O2 was straightforward, as was collecting the VIP package goodie bag and finding our seats. We had plenty of time so my best friend and adventure planner Lin and her husband Paul set off in search of chips, drinks and merchandise. As time ticked by, the younger, very close family member that completed this expedition down south and I sat bouncing up and down in our seats. Neither of us had ever been in a venue the size of the O2 before, plus this was their first ever gig. Messages were delayed getting through, one from twenty minutes early popped up, merch was running low and the queue wasn’t moving. I replied saying never mind, come back. No reply, the venue continued to fill up from the back of the Gods to the increasingly cosy standing fans there were people everywhere. Behind the huge crest design crown obscuring the stage a few noises started to be heard. We cheered everything and anything, the anticipation had reached true Rocky Horror Show levels and it was still ten minutes till show time. Luckily Lin and Paul made it back and with T-shirts, drinks and smiles before my younger companion and I combusted with anxiety. Lin had helped me hatch this plan, figured out and booked everything and doing this with her was on a level with doing it at all importance wise. Back to the weeping. A few minutes late and now back to just your average stratospheric levels of fever pitch excitement the lights started to go down. We whooped, squealed a bit and jigged around in our seats. Then ‘Innuendo’ blared from the PA, the crest started to lift and for a minute I couldn’t breathe. I cheered, burst into tears and all the air simultaneously left my body. Because finally, there they were. From watching Live Aid aged five, to every live album and concert performance I have watched, every documentary, every book even that feature film, finally they were right there. Watching it just now on YouTube I have the same response. I wasn’t sure how they could top opening with the long run into ‘One Vision’ but this did what it needed to. Queen have always been acknowledged as a great live band. Their love of theatre has only seemed to increase over the years and boy, do they make it work. The lighting rigs and projections were manipulated in many a weird and wonderful way to set up a suitably opulent curtain raising spectacle right through to our favourite robot Frank trying to grab us at the end of the show. So slick in fact was the light show that the pyrotechnics and dry ice were kept for a suitably impressive couple of bits of punctuation. Motorbikes appear front and centre without you noticing because your attention is skilfully being directed elsewhere, Dr Brian May can levitate on meteors and shoot magic out of the headstock of his axe. Because of course he can. But Queen also demonstrate they can strip a performance all the way back and still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This was demonstrated nowhere better than when May took centre stage to sing fan favourite ‘Love Of My Life’. This was dedicated to Freddie, the same way he used to dedicate it to the crowd. As we all sang with him I watched as more and more phone lights (the modern less potentially hair burning take on the lighter) twinkled on. It was like a wave from the stalls to the very top of the O2 as more and more were switched on until the entire place was fully light up from the inside. As fitting tributes went, it was perfect. And I cried. Adam Lambert struck the perfect balance between acknowledging that he was there because Freddie was not but also that he was as much of a fan as the rest of us. During opening track ‘Now I’m Here’, he name-checked Freddie and declared that being down in the city with Fred, he loved him so. Same, roared back the audience. Lambert was suitably camp, theatrical and cheeky but never seemed to be aping the original, skilfully making the songs his own while keeping them very recognisable. Freddie himself was in (virtual) attendance. The call and response clip was aired, he ‘eeeeeeoooooed’ and we replied. Images of Mercury throughout his time with the band lit up the screen as roger Taylor took on vocals for ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’. And I cried. Classics and deeper cuts all figured. From ‘’39’ to ‘A Kind Of Magic’. The original band avatars danced around on the screen during the latter song and the beefed up John Deacon got a cheer all of his own. Being seated at a gig is always a balancing act. In my case balancing between can’t stand aided or unaided for very long and dancing. All around the arena there were pockets of people standing for a track or two here and there. I knew though there would come a track where all who were able to would rise to their feet as one by mutual agreement, as ‘Radio Gaga’ proved. Of course it was. Clap-clap-hold, clap-clap-hold. It never gets old. And yes, I cried. Waiting a couple of years longer for this particular gig, dropping a frankly ridiculous amount on tickets and travel and hotels both did and did not feel like a risk. As previously established, I have watched every recorded Queen performance in existence and I knew they’d deliver. But, a tiny voice in my head whispered, “But what if it’s not good enough?” There is a reason you didn’t like it when Paul Rogers sang with them after all… What if you go and it feels like a weird mix of actual rock gods meets ‘Stars In Their Eyes’? (‘X Factor’ with more make up for the youngsters). In the end I trusted my best friend’s judgement and the fact that Lambert has been performing with Queen for over a decade now. There is a reason this has lasted, it’s because it works. They play the songs we love with the same enthusiasm, they have an audience prepared to celebrate, sing, clap, stamp and yes, cry with them.

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Queen and Adam Lambert - O2 Arena, London, 20/6/2022

Queen and Adam Lambert - O2 Arena, London, 20/6/2022

Queen and Adam Lambert - O2 Arena, London, 20/6/2022

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