Adam Lambert ably fills in as Queen frontman at the Joint

Queen + Adam Lambert at the Joint.
Wayne Posner/Erik Kabik Photography

Three stars

Queen + Adam Lambert July 5, The Joint

Freddie Mercury is irreplaceable, and to their credit, Mercury’s former Queen bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor seem to understand that. Whenever they’ve performed live in the years following the singer’s 1991 death, they’ve always billed Mercury’s fill-ins separately rather than as members of Queen, and the band’s latest tour is credited to Queen + Adam Lambert.

Mercury’s presence loomed large over Queen and Lambert’s show at the Joint on Saturday night, and not just because his face frequently popped up on the video screen. The last person to front Queen for an extended period of time, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, didn’t have much in common with Mercury, but American Idol alum Lambert is an avowed Mercury devotee, and his flamboyant, glamorous vocal and performance style (not to mention his fashion sense) echo Mercury closely.

Which means either that Lambert is the ideal person to perform Queen classics, or that he makes the show into too much of a tribute act. For the sold-out crowd at the Joint (most of whom were probably old enough to be Lambert’s parents), the distinction didn’t matter, and for his part, Lambert never seemed to be pandering to Queen fans. Not surprisingly, he sounded best on the band’s more bombastic tunes (especially ballads like “Who Wants to Live Forever” and the reworked Freddie Mercury solo song “Love Kills”), and got a little lost on hard rockers like “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Tie Your Mother Down.” But he nailed the theatricality of “Killer Queen” (lounging on what looked like a Victorian fainting couch), and the crowd enjoyed his addition of somewhat tiresome Idol-style melisma at various points.

May and Taylor were augmented by three additional musicians (including Taylor’s son Rufus on percussion), and they nearly matched Lambert’s energy. Both took respectable turns on lead vocals (with Taylor taking the David Bowie parts on “Under Pressure”) and gave proper deference to Mercury, whose own recorded vocals filled in at various points. Lambert took the stage for the encore wearing an actual crown, but there was no question who was still the Queen.


“Now I’m Here”

“Stone Cold Crazy”

“Another One Bites the Dust”

“Fat Bottomed Girls”

“In the Lap of the Gods”

“Seven Seas of Rhye”

“Killer Queen”

“Somebody to Love”

“I Want It All”

“Love of My Life”


“These Are the Days of Our Lives”

“Under Pressure”

“Love Kills”

“Who Wants to Live Forever”

Brian May guitar solo

“Tie Your Mother Down”

“Radio Ga Ga”

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

“The Show Must Go On”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”


“We Will Rock You”

“We Are the Champions”


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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