This is the local newspaper's music review. Posted on Mon, Mar. 27, 2006
Queen + Paul Rodgers makes us miss Mercury more
BY ROSS RAIHALA
Pop Music Critic
How do you replace one of the most flamboyant and charismatic frontmen of the rock era? That's the problem that's faced British rockers Queen since the 1992 death of Freddie Mercury.
The band's novel, if somewhat bizarre, decision was to hire another '70s vocalist of an entirely different stripe. Queen + Paul Rodgers — that's how the show was billed — pulled into the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night for an odd and not totally successful nostalgia trip.
To his credit, Rodgers rarely tried to mimic Mercury. Instead, he played the good-natured, aging blues rocker, grinning like a guy all too happy for a reprieve from the ribfest circuit. (It also appeared Rodgers used some of his new Queen money on Botox.)
His clipped growl made the most sense on the handful of songs Queen performed from Rodgers' own past, including "All Right Now" and "Feel Like Makin' Love." When it came to the numbers everyone was there to hear, though, Rodgers was hit or miss.
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" suffered the most and were clearly ill-suited for Rodgers' range. That's probably the reason the band chose to completely skip substantial hits like "Somebody to Love," "Killer Queen" and "You're My Best Friend."
Rodgers fared far better with "Under Pressure" — originally a duet with David Bowie — and "We Will Rock You," neither of which demanded the campy sophistication that made Mercury a star. A taped performance from the late vocalist served as the backbone for "Bohemian Rhapsody," with Rodgers chiming in near the end.
It was nearly impossible not to constantly compare Rodgers to Mercury. It was also tempting to second-guess Queen's decision. Bowie, for one, would make more stylistic sense. Or how about George Michael? Axl Rose?
Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor unfortunately designed a show with plenty of time to ponder such issues. The peculiar, stilted pacing left plenty of time for yawning, as did a May guitar solo that stretched past the 10-minute mark.
Still, it was tough not to feel for the guys. May and Taylor have been playing together for four decades. (Queen's bassist John Deacon has remained mostly retired since Mercury's death.) May, in particular, obviously loves being on stage. And the modest-sized crowd, which appeared to be somewhere around 7,000, although an official number wasn't released, got what they were promised.
If nothing else, the concert served as a bittersweet reminder that it really is impossible to replace Freddie Mercury.
Pop Music Critic Ross Raihala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5553. Read more about the local music scene on his blog, "The Ross Who Knew Too Much," at www.twincities.com
Yes, it was a worthwhile experience.