Added on 15-Mar-2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
By CHUCK DARROW
It’s astounding just how large a shadow can be cast by a guy who has been dead for 15 years.
Freddie Mercury may have died of AIDS in 1991, but he had an undeniably large presence Tuesday night as the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour hit the Wachovia Spectrum.
In and of itself, the 2 ½-hour performance was not all that bad, boasting any number of nice moments. But in the end, it served as nothing more than a reminder of just how unique--and irreplaceable--was Mercury.
Technically speaking, the show should have been billed as Half-Queen + Paul Rodgers, as only two of the original four members of the 1970s pop-rock juggernaut, lead guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, actually performed.
Not that there were any real train wrecks. And on a few numbers, including an appropriately rip-snorting “Tie Your Mother Down” and the rockabilly romp, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Rodgers proved to be far more than merely satisfactory.
But when it came to the more rococo, art-rock side of Queen’s repertoire, it was clear Rodgers was out of his depth.
Actually, the concert’s greatest vocal revelations were courtesy of drummer Taylor, whose easy -on-the-ears, Rod Stewart-ish style made “I’m In Love with My Car” and the wistful “Days Of Our Lives” two of the show’s highlights. Another was May’s genuinely moving reading of the McCartney-esque “Love Of My Life.”
Incidentally, Rodgers' failure to measure up to his predecessor went beyond the sonic.
Again, while Rodgers is no slacker when it comes to fronting a rock band, he’s been called on to replace someone who ranks with the likes of Bowie, Daltrey, Jagger and Stewart in the pantheon of uberfrontmen. Rodgers may be a rock star, but Mercury was a STAR.
Finally, to answer what is probably the most common question concerning the Queen + Paul Rodgers show, yes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was included.
It was the last tune before the encore, and started out with Mercury singing the first half on video, accompanied by Taylor. The rest of the band--which also included keyboardist Spike Edney and rhythm guitarist Jamie Moses--subsequently joined in.
When the tune reached the hard-rock part on the lyrical passage that begins, “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye…” Rodgers reappeared on stage to carry the bizarre--but revered--mini-suite to its conclusion.
Which, while a very nice touch, only served as yet another reminder of what we’ve missed out on the past decade-and-a-half.
Reach Chuck Darrow at (856) 486-2442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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