Adam Lambert - he's OK, he's alright

Adam Lambert (left) joins Queen guitarist Brian May as part of Queen   Adam Lambert, ably taking the part of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury.
Adam Lambert (left) joins Queen guitarist Brian May as part of Queen Adam Lambert, ably taking the part of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury. (MICHAEL LOCCISANO / Getty Images)
Posted: July 29, 2014

Until his death in 1991, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury was one of Western music's great anomalies: a flamboyant, gay Persian gentleman with an octave-crashing range and operatic highs whose emotive voice graced some of rock's heaviest moments.

In so many ways, Mercury at the time seemed irreplaceable (and still does). Still, Queen's Brian May must have thought the heavens opened when American Idol contestant Adam Lambert - a flamboyant, gay Hoosier with an octave-crashing range - played with the guitarist during that show's 2011 finale.

Fast-forward to Saturday night: The 32-year-old vocalist has hitched his haughty wagon to the bombastic star of May and drummer Roger Taylor as Queen + Adam Lambert and presented a sold-out show at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.

Lambert didn't try to imitate Mercury - he didn't need to. The manner in which his athletic range slipped casually throughout "Somebody to Love" (his shrugging take on "I'm OK / I'm alright" was fabulous) seemed as natural as breathing. So, too, was Lambert's theatrical leap into his upper register during "Who Wants to Live Forever," an easy somersault.

The young vocalist was comfortable in his own skin, flippantly singing the glam classic "Killer Queen," swigging champagne while stretched across a purple divan.

"My mom was born in Atlantic City," he observed out of nowhere.

Another reason Lambert didn't need to compete with Mercury was that the late singer's vocal presence was felt during the show's staging when Lambert traded lines with the recorded Queen vocalist during "Bohemian Rhapsody."

That pairing was sentimental but unnecessary; Lambert surely could have tackled its highs. In that respect, he didn't get the chance to push the limits of his acrobatic voice.

Then again, there were special moments to get through. Guitarist May did his usual mind-melting, glissando-shattering solos and mean metal riffing throughout ("Tie Your Mother Down" was particularly juicy) as well as tenderly crooning "Love of My Life."

Saturday was Taylor's birthday, and the drummer got impressively hearty vocal shots at a jangly "'39" along with David Bowie's half of "Under Pressure."

And if the Q+AL pairing did nothing else, it gloriously took back the soaring "We Are the Champions" from the advertising hacks of the world.

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