There was something immensely cheering about seeing Queen’s Brian May wearing a Hong Kong T-shirt as the band closed their first ever show in the city with a triumphant rendition of We Are The Champions. It’s not clear why the rockers took 46 years to get here, but the band made up for lost time with a spectacular show at the AsiaWorld-Expo.
Drawing from their immense back-catalogue of hits, the band chose not to dwell on the past and former singer Freddie Mercury’s death, but celebrate his legacy as well as the shape-shifting group’s ongoing strength decades later. In key songs, like Bohemian Rhapsody, footage of Mercury appeared on the screen, making it seem like the legendary showman was there.
Singer Adam Lambert, who has been singing with the band since 2014, was a perfect entertainer. With his flamboyant outfits, his jaw-dropping, operatic voice did justice to the songs made famous during Mercury’s era as he soared through fan favourites, like opener Seven Seas of Rhye, Fat Bottomed Girls, and Radio Gaga. Many hits have such recognisable intros that the crowd was going crazy before the song had even begun. While rocking a feather bolero, Lambert greeted the crowd, and thanked the band for having him on board. Meanwhile, May, who has described the singer as “a gift from God” in the past, made a grand show of handing over a microphone to the younger star.
There were too many high points to count: incredible lighting and clever visuals made for a next-level rock show. Meanwhile, the softer moments were just as spine-tingling – like when May played an acoustic version of Love of my Life while Mercury “joined” him on the backdrop. Fittingly, the guitarist-astrophysicist performed a 10-minute solo while raised on a podium inside a ring of lasers against a starry backdrop. Things got even more fun when drummer Roger Taylor and his son, Rufus Tiger, went head-to-head in a dizzying drum battle.
Of course, classic tracks like Don’t Stop Me Now, I Want To Break Free, and We Will Rock You drew the biggest cheers, but it was the less well-known songs and constant joy radiating from the stage that made the setlist feel fresh, and proved why Queen has stood the test of time.