Added on 09-Mar-2006
Queen: They will rock you
By Phillip Ross
Posted March 10 2006
One would think that a venue as massive as the AmericanAirlines Arena and a band as monumental as Queen would be ideally suited for each other. Sadly, though, on the opening night of the legendary '70s rock group's first major tour since the death of their lead singer, the arena was full of empty seats and half-hearted fans. Until the final 60 minutes and the band's awe-inspiring encore, even those in the front rows stood placidly, awaiting a call to action from their aging idols.
It's a shame that more people did not witness Queen's rebirth last Friday, when the band came out from behind the curtains to the sound of new frontman Paul Rodgers belting Tie Your Mother Down. The band, after playing a nice mix of lesser-known Queen songs and a Bad Company tune here and there, seemed to be underwhelming the impatient audience throughout several slow-paced acoustic songs, including one written recently to honor Nelson Mandela's bravery in his fight against bigotry.
Of course, a band like Queen is never going to be just average. Beginning an hourlong barrage of musical masterpieces with songs like Free's It's Alright Now and leading into an amazing climax of arguably the three greatest rock songs ever composed -- Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, We are the Champions and We Will Rock You -- the two remaining members of the original quartet, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, performed with a vivaciousness that made up for their long hiatus from touring. They not only were as good as ever, despite gray hairs and wrinkles, but also played at their best and took the reins of the show on several occasions. Never have these two rocked with so much intensity.
But what about the new addition to the classic group, former Free, Bad Company, and The Firm frontman Paul Rodgers? Rumors have abounded that he is the weakest link in this tour, and have made many people declare this new version of Queen nothing more than a bunch of elderly imitators lacking the man who sparked them to their apex of success some 30 years ago. While the void left when Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1992 is undeniably large, Rodgers holds his own well enough to garner applause from even the most hesitant fan. The British legend's active stage presence also kept the pace of the show fast enough to make the band members seem as mobile as they were in their youth.
Looking back, modern rock is really just the newest form of the genre Queen defined. It never has been, and never will be, able to hold a candle to this still-relevant corner of rock, where entire arenas stamp a familiar beat and shout, "We want more" -- and get more. Where fans become supercharged with the flow of an unexpected drum solo, and old men find redemption singing about the woes of their teenage generation. Queen cannot, obviously, stick around forever.
Hopefully, though, concerts like this will get some band somewhere to wake up and realize the truth in the argument that Queen presented when they tore down the triple-A last Friday with unmatchable chords and high notes: The future of music is around 30 years ago.