Let’s go to the circus! We’ll take the kids, load ’em up with cheesy-pretzels and soda and we’ll all sing along with “Fat-Bottomed Girls!”
As much as I adored Queen in the olden days, such was the feel of this show. Yeah, Brian May carried it, with Roger Taylor giving a poundingly-majestic performance. But that don’t feed the admiral’s cat, as they say.
I’m biased. Paul Rogers (Bad Company’s singer) was not a good choice as a Freddie Mercury sub. You knew it wouldn’t work when you heard those rumors last year in the British music press. They jokingly called it “Bad Queen.” Their music could not be more dissimilar. Yet here we have it. Bad Company was fun in their genre. To Queen, Paul Rogers is about as useful as … a witty analogy.
So why’d I go to see “Bad Queen?”
It’s partly my brother’s fault. He said he saw a video of them and they weren’t too bad. And it’s partly my fault. I was a huge Queen fan back in the day. There’s no stalgia like nostalgia.
You cannot step into the same river twice. -Heraclitus
Ain’t that the truth! How many reunion tours must we endure before we believe it? Still, it was cool to see Brian May and Roger Taylor again. John Deacon, Queen’s bass player, had the good taste to decline the tour. Freddie Mercury must be rolling in his grave.
I saw Queen once in 1974, as the opening act for Mott the Hoople. Easily one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. Queen’s second album had just come out. They played everything at a frenetic pace and ran out of material for encores and closed with “Jailhouse Rock!” But hey, they’ve got some rockabilly roots-one of the two enormous crowd pleasers of this recent show was “Crazy Little Thing Called Love!”
There was no opening act though the lead-in music to the show was AC/DC. That was weird. They had excellent quality video screens set up on each side of the stage and the camerawork was flawless-you could clearly see Brian holding his guitar pick coin in the close-ups (he uses an actual coin to get that metallic sound-with chorus pedal and phase shift thrown in for good measure).
What did the crowd think of the Bad Company songs strewn throughout the set?
They liked them. I thought it was stupid. I never saw Paul Rogers perform live, so I was surprised that he had zero stage presence. May introduced him early on as “Philadelphia’s own Paul Rogers!” Really? That’s embarrassing. Sorry world. They did the songs “Bad Company” and “Can’t Get Enough,” among others. The latter made me realize the rock-solid strength of Mick Ralph’s power chords in those Bad Company songs. He was Mott’s guitar player early on.
What types of lighting did they have?
The light show was amazing – the biggest mirror ball in the known galaxy, motorized racks of lights that moved via remote control, klieg lights the size of Rhode Island. Too bad they spent so much time illuminating Paul Rogers. He changed his clothing and necklaces more often than a fourteen-year-old girl. But at least he didn’t try to ape Freddie Mercury-he would just put on different t-shirts.
Not like in days of yore. Though May and Taylor both wore all-white outfits. The hired hands who played bass and keyboards wore all black.
What did they play?
Under normal circumstances, opening with “Tie Your Mother Down” would have been an adrenaline rush. However, Brian’s guitar was out of tune. It blew. He traded guitars with a roadie after that song and things improved. Hope the roadie was later slaughtered. They followed with “Fat-Bottomed Girls” which was cool.
“We Will Rock You,” “Dragon Attack,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “The Show Must Go On,” “Hammer To Fall,” “I Want to Break Free.” All rather expected. Few surprises. They played for about 2 and a half hours.
There were some crowd pleasers. In addition to “Crazy Little Thing,” the audience roared when Queen played “Radio ga ga,” as well as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The band had the presence of mind to not let Rogers sing this. Instead, the center curtains parted to reveal a movie screen, on which was played close-up concert footage of Freddie singing at the piano. This was very moving. The band then stormed in for loud parts of the song, playing live along with Freddie’s recorded parts. It was worth the price admission.
Brian May and Roger Taylor also sang a couple songs. Taylor did “I’m In Love with My Car,” as well as a couple others. Though way below Freddie’s operatic vocal range, Taylor’s voice more closely approximated Freddie’s than did Rogers’ in “I Want to Break Free.” At one point, May came out onto the narrow stage extension far up into the audience with only an acoustic guitar. He sat on a stool and performed the song “Love of My Life” as a solo piece, introducing it as “Freddie’s love song.” May was very warm, friendly, and enthusiastic-not to mention one of most amazingly unique and kick-ass guitar players ever. He’s still got the chops. He said “It’s been 24 years since we’ve played in Philadelphia. We don’t remember the faces, but we do remember the smiles.”
Tributes to Freddie Mercury abounded.
Taylor sang “These Are the Days of Our Lives” while old footage of Freddie with the band were shown on the center screen. Brian May did a solo break of about 15 minutes of blistering guitar loosely based on the opening lines of “Now I’m Here.” Roger did a drum solo, which used to be standard fare in the 70s. I am not a fan of the drum solo, though this one was kept to a tolerable 5-minute limit.
The first song of the encore was Free’s “Alright Now,” the throwback crowd loved it (Rogers was the front man for Free prior to forming Bad Company). The closing song was the predictable “We Are The Champions.”
Will fans be happy/ disappointed?
I was relatively disappointed with the show. I was especially dissed that they didn’t do my favorite Queen song, “Keep Yourself Alive.” But maybe they tailored the show to what few songs they could do without Freddie.
In a general sense, stadium shows suck. Food should not be allowed. Neither should pudgy 10-year-old boys who stand next to you shouting the lyrics to “Fat-Bottomed Girls” along with the band.