So the original reason we went to Las Vegas this past weekend was to catch one of my favorite bands in action at the pretty-darned-new T-Mobile Arena.
With Adam Lambert fronting them, I was finally going to get to catch Brian May and Roger Taylor live, on stage, right in front of my very eyes.
First, let’s get the technicalities of the show out of the way before we get into the concert itself.
The T-Mobile Arena is pretty conveniently located, just behind the New York New York and next to the Monte Carlo, across the street from the MGM Grand. It opened in April of 2016 and is half-owned by the MGM group (who also owns NYNY, so….), so it is effectively brand new and state of the art. Inside, the fixed seating is padded, with drink holders, and seems to have plenty of room to move around, although since I literally had to simply go in a door, turn left up and escalator, then walk into my assigned seating portal, I can’t say for certain. I am mighty glad I didn’t have to walk the entire circumference of the arena, though. It seems I always have to do that, so this was a nice change of pace.
There is a wide open plaza outside, perfect for queueing up large crowds of excited fans…But then, of course, there’s the large crowds of excited fans. Waiting to get in. In Vegas. In 113 degree heat.
Good fun. Not.
The entry process was both unnecessarily slow and, surprisingly, ineffective. After 30-40 minutes in line outside, we reached the door, where we emptied our pockets and ladies put purses into a small plastic tote the security person handed us. We then walked through a metal detector (as expected), then the plastic tote with our stuff in it was passed OUTSIDE THE METAL DETECTOR and handed back to us.
That’s right: no bag checks.
I hope to god that’s an oversight for this event, because every single purse/bag we saw didn’t get scanned or opened.
How’s that for security?
Nevertheless, we reached our seats, only to find that T-Mobile or AXS (who handled the ticket sales) had reconfigured the seating in the area where I had bought our tickets.
Instead of being located on the center aisle, directly facing the stage a couple of rows off the floor (thus looking over the heads of the folks in the floor seats), seats were added to those sections, placing our seats about 1/3 of the way from the side (and not on an aisle—not cool), which might have been acceptable. Except…
Except the sound booth had a large cable bundle running from it up to the ceiling (to the lighting rigs), which basically cut the stage in half for us, and—
Yes, there’s an AND to this—
And they had decided to record the show, so each side of the sound booth had a large camera mounted on it, which wiped out our view of the right side of the stage, as well as the long walkway from the stage out into the floor seats.
(slightly zoomed in, but you get the idea…)
Obviously, we weren’t the only ones affected, and the word from others who had complained was that they would “look into doing something.”
So, yeah. Awesome. Thanks for that, T-Mobile Arena, AXS, and whoever else was involved in those shenanigans. Try answering a tweet sometime.
Bunch of feminine-hygiene-receptacles.
Wow. Almost six-hundred words in, and I haven’t even started talking about the show itself, yet.
Let’s talk about that, shall we?
As I said, I was very glad to be able to see Brian May and Roger Taylor. A couple of professionals, and outstanding musicians.
Adam Lambert, who is best known for his stint on American Idol, has taken up the microphone from the late, great, Freddie Mercury. Lambert certainly has a bombastic voice, but one I feel isn’t really suited for “Rock.”
That’s not to say that some of the Queen catalog isn’t entirely in his wheelhouse, because it is.
But let’s back up a bit. I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, Brian May still has chops. On display early and often, I am reminded of just how hard they can rock.
But early on, it felt like maybe Roger Taylor had lost a bit. He had a back-up drummer playing with him. And I was watching: he was playing exactly what Roger was playing, basically the whole time. And when the drum solo is a duel between you and your back-up drummer….
But as the show went on, it seemed like Roger grew stronger, more sure of himself, and really started to tear into some pieces. Still, I can’t help but wonder how long he can continue. I mean, in the past Roger has stated that he’s not a rehearsal or preparation guy for tours, and that it takes him a good chunk of tours to really find his stride. That, and the fact that drumming is the most physically taxing of the roles onstage, must take a physical toll on him.
The band mixed in some footage of Freddie throughout the show, which was nice, because, well: Freddie.
But that also plays into what I felt were the weaknesses of Lambert’s performance with the band. As I said earlier, some of the band’s hits play right into his wheelhouse, such as Fat Bottomed Girls and It’s Late.
But the same quality of Lambert’s voice, that almost Broadway-esque power/clarity, that seems to drag him through the more rocking of Queen’s hits. That beautiful articulation seems to bog down when powering through songs like Stone Cold Crazy that aren’t supposed to be perfect.
Overall, I enjoyed the show, but believe that Queen, and Adam Lambert, would be better served if they did a more straightforward take on the classics, minor composition changes due to the fact Adam’s voice is not Freddie’s notwithstanding. It’s as if he is trying desperately to make songs which aren’t his, his, if that makes sense.
Honor the song, not yourself, Adam. When you’re singing a Queen song, sing a Queen song, not an Adam Lambert song.
Again, overall I enjoyed myself, and am very glad I went, but spent a fair amount of time comparing Adam’s stage presence to Freddie’s.
There’s no comparison. It’s not Adam’s fault, but it’s the truth. And his attempts to channel the carefree and recklessness of Freddie only hammered home that truth.