It took more than two decades for Queen to tour the United States following the backlash over the “I Want to Break Free” video, in which the members appeared in drag. (It was homage to the English soap “Coronation Street” but MTV missed the point and banned the video.) According to the documentary “The Great Pretender,” frontman Freddie Mercury was reportedly outraged by the controversy and–if you believe those interviewed–basically ‘turned his back on America’ and focused on other markets instead.
In 2005, surviving members Brian May and Roger Taylor were joined by Paul Rodgers for a successful tour that reached the United States in 2006. The partnership, however, did not last and the trio parted ways in 2009. That same year, May and Taylor performed on the season finale of “American Idol,” and there was speculation that runner-up Adam Lambert (who sang “We Are The Champions” on the show) would be joining Queen live in the near future.
It took a couple of years for things to come together, but Lambert has proven that he has what it takes to front the band. Judging from YouTube clips from last year’s performance at the I Heart Radio Festival and their recent appearances in Europe, I cannot help but agree with Taylor. Lambert’s vocal style and range fits Queen’s music like a glove, and the chemistry he has with May and Taylor is quite palpable.
At a press conference held in New York last winter, Taylor stated that Lambert “is a great diva, and I mean that in the best possible way. We need that theatrically.” At the same event, Brian May clearly stated that Lambert “isn’t an imitator.”
Queen fans of different generations should not miss this tour–after all, May hinted at the press conference that this might be the last time they are doing this when he repeatedly said that they wanted to do this “one more time.” This might be a gimmick, but I’m not taking any chances. (Ernest Barteldes)
June 19 at United Center, 1901 West Madison, (312)455-4500. 7:30pm. $35-$139.50. All ages.