Queen + Adam Lambert – The Rhapsody Tour 2023
Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – October 18, 2023
Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf
It’s not surprising that on October 18th Wells Fargo Center was sold out for a performance by Queen + Adam Lambert as the continue their Rhapsody Tour 2023. The music of Queen is ionic and has remained revered over decades and across oceans. However, it was the 2018 film, Bohemian Rhapsody, the biographical musical drama centered around the life of Freddie Mercury, that brought the band back to the forefront and introduced Queen’s music to a generation who might otherwise have not listened to 1970s and 80s rock. While Queen’s spectacular music drew fans to the band, inextricable from the music and equally as powerful, was the mesmerizingly artistic, theatrical genius of Freddie Mercury. Mercury commanded attention onstage not only with his incomparable vocal range but his unique style, energy, and spirit.
To the devastation of all, Mercury passed away in 1991. While his passing could’ve been the end of live Queen performances, Brian May and Roger Taylor opted to continue to perform….for themselves, for Freddie and for Queen’s millions of fans. Of course no one else can be Freddie Mercury and no one will ever try to replace Freddie Mercury. That could never happen. Queen performances are to honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and the music of Queen. In 2009, Brian May and Roger Taylor unexpectedly became acquainted with an incredible American Idol vocalist who perfectly fill those honorary shoes. That incredible performer was and is Adam Lambert. For the past decade Lambert as been a part of Queen’s global tours (Queen + Adam Lambert), carrying on the legacy of Queen, highlighting the memory of Freddie Mercury, and showcasing his own spectacular vocal and theatrical abilities.
Having seen Queen + Adam Lambert perform in 2019 I knew the show was going to be phenomenal. However, in the 4 years since the start of the Rhapsody Tour, the production is now exploding with electrifying visuals, pyrotechnics and moving parts. Like Mercury, who was a consummate frontman, Lambert’s showmanship took center stage throughout the performance. Over the course of the two-and-a-half hour show, Lambert had upwards of five costume changes, one more extravagant than the next. As Lambert sang, it was hard to take your eyes away from him as he dramatically strut about the stage and sauntered down the runway. Lambert emerged from beneath the stage on a giant rotating, silver-encased motorcycle for “Bicycle Race” and sang from the stage’s upper level on “Killer Queen.”
During the performance both May and Taylor May and Taylor had their individual time in the spotlight. Sitting on a stool at the end of the runway, May performed a beautifully sweet, acoustic rendition of “Love of My Life,” encouraging the audience to join in, which they eagerly obliged. As the song neared the end a towering video of Mercury appeared alongside the live stream of May, giving May the opportunity to play his guitar, as Mercury sang the song’s last touching line. Thunderous cheers erupted throughout the crowd as May reached out his onscreen hand to Mercury in a heartfelt moment. Taylor was showcased during a phenomenal drum solo, before segueing into crowd favorite “Under Pressure” and taking over for David Bowie’s vocals. And, May was again highlighted while performing an extended guitar solo, appearing to stand high atop a celestial planet, before floating down amongst a galaxy of colorful, brightly lit orbs.
There’s no doubt that Lambert, May and Taylor brought the passion and spirit of Queen with each and every number. While the band performed several lesser-known cuts, the energy of the music and the spectacular visual production kept the crowd engaged and thrilled throughout the performance. Of course, when the beloved hits were performed, including “Radio Ga Ga,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Killer Queen,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” the thousands of fans filling the Wells Fargo Center were on their feet, and singing along with soaring voices that would’ve made Freddie Mercury proud. So, here’s to you Freddie! “We Will Rock You” forever!!