‘American Idol’ notes: Adam Lambert gives Queen a fresh take at State Farm Arena, Lauren Alaina on ‘DWTS,’ Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson

Originally posted Friday, August 23, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

I tagged along with our esteemed music writer Melissa Ruggieri to the Queen + Adam Lambert concert Thursday night at State Farm Arena and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Here is her review. 

And here are my thoughts:

Lambert noted on stage early on that he has been fronting the group for an impressive eight years. Essentially, Roger Taylor and Brian May played with him on “American Idol” in 2009 and that planted a seed for what would ultimately be a wonderfully fruitful collaboration.

There is no replacing Freddie Mercury and Lambert in no way even attempts to imitate or match Mercury’s majestic voice or presence. Rather, he is Lambert, who is special in and of himself with his own successful solo career and incredibly resonant, distinctive voice.

Early on, he honored the two original members, giving the audience an excuse to give them an extended standing ovation. “This is a huge honor and I feel so lucky to be carrying the torch,” Lambert said. Then of Mercury: “He’s one of my heroes. He’s irreplaceable.” 

Lambert brought his own fashion template over a span of five outfits, starting with what looked like a black pirate shirt inside a gold lame jacket and pants. He later wore leather, then switched to some sort of tunic/shirt/skirt/pant combo. At one point, the silver tassel would have made Liberace and Elvis jealous. And he ended in a spangled outfit fit for a king with what appeared to be thick 12-inch heeled knee-high boots.

And the singing! Lambert and bad notes are like strangers who have never met. He can command the stage on sprightly tunes such as  “Somebody to Love” and “Don’t Stop me Now.” He can vamp it up on a piano while holding a red fan doing “Killer Queen.” He can funnel his inner theatric on “The Show Must Go On” and wink through “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Plus, no matter how sports stadium clichéd “We Will Rock You” is, he sang with utter conviction. 

Lambert never hogged the proceedings, knowing he is merely an esteemed guest in the Queen universe. At 72, May provided some touching vocals and no sign of age when it came to his guitar skills while Taylor undergirded every song with solid drum work.

Plus, Mercury was not forgotten. He showed up on screen to sing the end of “Love of My Life,” then adding an impish little “Ay-Yo” callback for the crowd before the encore. 

And the burst of confetti at the end of the two-hour concert was fitting. This was a celebration of a band that may have lost its leader nearly three decades ago but found a vehicle in Lambert to provide fans a way to enjoy the original music in a way that felt less like a money grab but a genuinely moving experience. 

Here are some photos from the concert I took: 

Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Adam Lambert being Adam Lambert.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Adam Lambert during "Bicycle Race."
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Brian May sings "Love of My Life" acoustically.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Queen let Freddie Mercury (via video) sing the last verse of "Love of My Life."
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Roger Taylor joins Adam Lambert at the front of the walkway for a few songs.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. All three together.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Roger May, close up.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Disco ball time! Queen incorporated a fair share of dance beats to many of its songs.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
Photo: RODNEY HO@ajc.com Adam Lambert in his fourth outfit of the night.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com Brian May still can pull off the guitar solos.
Photo: RODNEY HOrho@ajc.com Adam Lambert's final outfit for "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" encore.
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Adam Lambert's final boots are not meant for the faint of heart.
Photo: RODNEY HO@ajc.com
Photo: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com Confetti at the end of the State Farm Arena date for Queen + Adam Lambert

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 21: Lauren Alaina arrives at the 2019 "Dancing With The Stars" Cast Reveal at Planet Hollywood Times Square on August 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Planet Hollywood International)
Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Planet Hollywoo

“Dancing With the Stars” has added an “American Idol” alum, Georgia native and season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina, who had her first No. 1 single in 2016 “Road Less Traveled.” 

Six years ago, Kellie Pickler (season five) won season 16 and the mirror ball trophy. And “Idol’ mentor Bobby Bones won last year’s competition. 

Also, Ally Brooke is part of the season 28 cast. She was part of “The X Factor” creation Fifth Harmony which was championed by Simon Cowell.

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AMERICAN IDOL: Idol Judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, and Host Ryan Seacrest during the AMERICAN IDOL Finale airing Thursday, April 7 (8:00-10:06 PM ET Live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

The original three judges on ‘American Idol” will show up on Kelly Clarkson’s new syndicated talks show, which debuts nationwide September 9.

At an “America’s Got Talent” press avail, Simon Cowell had naturally nothing but good things to say about the season one winner.

“Just seeing how she’s done as an artist and now how she’s progressed on TV, not everyone’s like this by the way,” Simon said of Kelly. “She is the most loyal, nice person, I mean genuinely, she is how she is off-camera as she is on-camera. She doesn’t need to be told what to do, she knows exactly what she’s doing. And she’s a great person. She’s real, sweet, funny, a great girl. We’re lucky we found Kelly on the first season of  Idol. I don’t think I would be standing here today.”

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Carrie Underwood this year went back to the original “Sunday Night Football” theme from 2006 and teamed up with Joan Jett for a revamped “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.” (It’s a play off Joan Jett’s 1988 hit “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”)

The new opening video will feature her at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Falcons. This is the first time the video was done in an actual football stadium. 

The song she did last year “Game On” received mixed reviews. 
This is Underwood’s seventh year doing the NBC “Sunday Night Football” song. 

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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