That the band who sings “We Are the Champions” acknowledged the Texas Rangers the day after winning the World Series in its first of two Dallas performances was supremely serendipitous. If only I hadn’t missed that, but that’s later. The Rhapsody Tour stopped in at American Airlines Center for two nights and brought with it a tsunami of hits that exploded with energy thanks to the dynamic duo of Queen and Adam Lambert.
The primarily baby boomer audience was rowdy before the band took the stage ready, so when the lights went down, the stadium roared. Animated mechanical projections hid the band but teased what was behind and as the main screen lifted, Lambert, Brian May and Roger Taylor launched with an earthquake opening medley of “Machines (Or ‘Back to Humans’),” “Radio Ga Ga” and “Hammer to Fall.” They brought it so hard at the opening that it felt like a finale number and was a true indication of things to come.
All the familiar songs were there like a greatest hits compilation. “Another One Bites the Dust” followed the opening which led to even m0re enthusiasm. Mixed with dazzling visuals and the extended stage, Queen/AL whipped up the audience into a frenzy in minutes.
Declaring 10 years with the band, Adam Lambert’s skills at handling these classic rock tunes was a kind of magic while also breathing a new light into them. His voice was strong and clear and certainly a worthy heir to the Freddie Mercury spot. He told the audience he felt the spirit of Mercury but his own performance style and presence was entertaining to watch. With fabulous costumes, platform boots and a whole lotta glitter, Lambert was as much his own artist as he was “filling in.”
Not a surprise, but perhaps a bit unexpectedly was Brian May serving as the real star of the night. He was overall mild-mannered with his radical guitar solos but his presence just filled the arena. The reverence for him was there from the audience but also Lambert and the band. May dressed like someone’s cool grandfather who picked the slickest shirt out of a Kohl’s rack, but his longevity had gravitas whether shooting rockets out of his guitar or performing his own vocals and even a simulated duet for “Love of My Life” with Mercury through old footage (which was a very touching moment). May was this gentle giant of a performer who delivered kick-ass solos all night long.
Drummer Roger Taylor wasn’t overlooked. He was as much an icon on stage as May, but he was just hindered by being in one spot behind drums. That said, he also grabbed hold of his own moments with a massive drum solo in the center of the arena before taking over “Under Pressure” with Lambert. Taylor was the first to acknowledge the Rangers win without ever saying the team’s name.
More than two hours, the band finished the set with – shocker – “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Lambert opened the song masked in a haze of shadows but his first “Mama” gave goosebumps. The band didn’t take on Queen’s next suite of vocals and left that to the original band’s recording which was probably the best choice. How do you recreate those distinct signature moments in all of rock music? But the jam revved up an already revved up audience before Lambert then tempered the song’s final act asking the audience to finish off singing “Nothing really matters.” The song was handled with all the esteem it was supposed to.
So the last song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was the obvious choice. And with concerts lately not having an encore (Beyonce, Sam Smith), I figured we were done. The lights stayed off but I had “Rhapsody” in my own head as the closer and opted to bow out before the band encored with “Ay‐Oh,” “We Will Rock You,” “Radio Ga Ga (again?).” The set also included “We Are the Champions” where May came out in a Texas Rangers jersey. Videos of that moment only turned up the volume of the audience. Queen/AL finished off the night with “God Save the Queen.”
Queen/Adam Lambert perform again tonight at AAC at 8 p.m.