The 1970 British band Queen returned to Chicago for a rocking concert on July 13 at the United Center.
Two members of the original group remain, with Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums. Bassist John Deacon retired after singer Freddie Mercury's death in 1991. Former Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers filled in for Mercury until American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert took over the singing duties. This is certainly no chore for Lambert as he mentioned at the Chicago show, "I am fan of Freddie, just like everyone here." It really set the tone for the evening as he remained humble and appeared grateful to be a part of the festivities.
Lambert paid homage to Mercury without trying to be that singer. It was more about taking the audience for a ride down memory lane while hitting some high notes. There was only one Freddie Mercury, and that was plainly shown on the monitors that displayed past performances.
All the major hits of the band were included in the more-than-two-hour set list. From "I Want It All" to "I Want to Break Free," these versions of the songs sounded current as the tattoed Lambert wailed through them.
Lambert described his pink outfit as the "gayest suit ever" before jumping on a pink bicycle for "Bicycle Race" and pedaling away with high-heeled stacks.
He asked May to look for a date in the crowd for "Somebody to Love," although he didn't focus on anyone in particular. The singer did run around the stage pit shaking hands, giving high fives and even taking selfies with a few lucky fans. Speaking of selfies, May used a camera connected to the video screens to make a massive picture of the crowd packed into the United Center.
The robot from the album cover of News of the World was featured several times, including during a face-melting guitar solo from the iconic May that was worth the price of admission alone.
There was also a drum solo from Taylor that showed this concert was focused on the original surviving members and not just some cover band.
Lambert had as many costume changes as Cher does during a showand almost as many sequins. Mercury was private at a different time in the world and never came out publicly, so it refreshing to see the out and proud Lambert enjoying the flamboyance of the work. Many gay fans rejoiced in the mixed crowd at the United Center that night. While there could have been more AIDS fundraising in the lobby, the group did play a tribute last year for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando to show their support of the LGBT community.
For "Under Pressure," the vocals just soared together and "Radio Ga Ga" had the spectators waving fists in the air timed to the music.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" combined videos with live vocals and the encore of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" finished things off with Lambert prancing about in a silver crown, May wearing a Chicago flag T-shirt, and an exploding cannon of confetti.
In the same week rockers like Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne are in town, it's good to see another classic act like Queen still strutting its stuff. Mercury's spirit lives, and this night was a tribute to him and his fans.
The Queen + Adam Lambert Tour will continue into 2018; if you haven't experienced it yet, get there before "Another One Bites the Dust."