Queen's Royalty Transcends
The first thing I noticed about the crowd that had gathered outside of Cox Arena at SDSU was its diversity. There were people of all ages and races covered in the mix, which did not surprise me much at all. I helped my fair share in the diversity department by bringing my teenage daughter to the concert as an early Birthday present. There were more than a few other family situations present, including a large percentage of other father/daughter combinations. It was nice to see so many people from different walks of life getting ready to enjoy a Rock Show.
Having read reviews of previous shows on their current USA tour having low attendance, I was wondering how many people would show up for a Saturday night show in San Diego. As the time wound down to the show, it was obvious that this show was going to be close to a sellout. The seats were filled to the bleacher rows at the top of the far end from the stage and the bleachers were filled most of the way back stage left and right. San Diego rocks.
When the lights dimmed, the crowd sprang to life and from my vantage point, I could see Brian emerge from backstage and a roadie hand him the immortal Red Special. This was going to be good.
When the opening riff to Tie Your Mother Down cranked out of the stacks, the roar of the crowd almost drowned it out. Paul Rodgers did a fine job on the vocals and it was apparent right from the start that he was not trying to be Freddie Mercury, but was being Paul Rodgers. Roger Taylor's beat still kept things together and Danny Miranda's bass lines stuck to John Deacon's originals like Krazy Glue. Brian May? Brian May has not gotten older, he's gotten better. In concert, one often wonders if they are listening to a recorded track instead of live because he is so flawless.
The crowd was fantastic. They seemed a little less in tune during the Free and Bad Company songs, but got right in touch when All Right Now was played in the encore. There were a lot of Paul Rodgers fans, easily recognizable by being on their feet when Can't Get Enough and Feel Like Makin' Love were being played.
Take Love was introduced as a new song and is an fine example of what this lineup can really do, highlighting the best of Queen and Paul Rodgers' attributes and making a fine blend in the process. The crowd took it all in and cheered almost as loudly for it as they did the time-proven standards, deservedly so.
Brian's rendition of Love Of My Life was a definite highlight. He sat on a stool at the end of a catwalk that extended into the audience with a twelve string acoustic and had the crowd sing along. Though Love Of My Life is not as recognizable across the diversity board as Fat Bottomed Girls is, Most of those present knew it well and sang heartily.
The high point of the show for me was Lost Horizon. I've been to a lot of concerts and have seen a lot of people play guitar in my forty three years, but have never been so moved by music before. Brian May played Lost Horizon with such soul, it overwhelmed me and made me glad I was sitting down. If I had been standing, it would have made my knees buckle.
I saw Queen on The Game tour at the Forum in LA in 1980 and Dragon Attack was on ther set list for that show. Freddie was Freddie and there is no replacing him, however this lineup covered Dragon Attack with a fervor that would have made Freddie proud. The pounding bass lines and interspersed wails from the Red Special were as tight as they were in 1980.
Brian introduced Under Pressure as a song they "stole from Vanilla Ice". I'm not sure if everyone present got that, but my daughter and I were cracking up along with quite a few others around us. The vocals were handed off for various lines throughout Under Pressure, all handled really well considering neither Freddie, nor David Bowie were present.
Bohemian Rhapsody was presented with the class that Queen fans have come to expect. It started out with a video and recording of Freddie playing piano and singing live with the band joining in and playing along on cue. There was not one butt in a chair in the whole arena for the remainder of the show and the Wayne's World headbang was omnipresent, initiated at the precise moment required.
A phenomenon occured while the crowd was cheering for the encore that was frightfully funny. Instead of the time proven lighters being lit, it was mostly cell phone lights! This wasn't surprising, yet was hilarious just the same. It had obviously been a long time since I had attended an arena Rock Show.
The telltale thump thump clap of We Will Rock You broke the stage silence for the encore and the crowd responded in kind, shaking the arena on its foundation in the process. Paul handled the vocals in his style, fitting into the fold of the beat well. The fans responded with a thunderous WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU right on cue. Brian made his way over to a stage left riser that was a mere twenty feet from where my daughter and I stood and proceeded to rip right into the lead. Rock & Roll doesn't get much better than that.
All Right Now was set in-between We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, which was the final song played in the show. Yes, they are the champions...of the World. Queen has transcended time and personnel loss to be heard across all walks of life. A Saturday night with them and 10,000 fans in San Diego helped drive that point home for me.
It's A Beautiful Day
Tie Your Mother Down
Fat Bottomed Girls
Can't Get Enough
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Love Of My Life
Hammer To Fall
Feel Like Makin' Love
Let There Be Drums
I'm In Love With My Car
Another One Bites The Dust
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Radio Ga Ga
The Show Must Go On
We Will Rock You
All Right Now
We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen