Added on 04-Mar-2006
(***FOR THOSE FANS WHO WISH TO BE SURPRISED BY THE CONTENT OF THE SET, PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS A SPOILER!!!)
By Sean Piccoli
Pop Music Writer
Posted March 4 2006 MIAMI · Queen + Paul Rodgers = one proficient classic-rock cover band.
The revival tour that opened on Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena brought together two mainstays of '70s rock: the extravagant Queen and the bluesy Bad Company. As the hybrid name suggests, Queen's repertoire took precedence, with former Bad Company singer Rodgers serving -- capably enough -- as an alternate for Queen's late frontman, Freddie Mercury.
But the supergroup including two founding Queensmen, guitarist Brian May and drummer-vocalist Roger Taylor, also played a handful of Bad Company tunes. The result was oddly documentary -- a study of parallel careers, with one treated as the main story and the other as a sidebar.
The six-piece band and the production crew handled both back catalogues with the care and fidelity that classic-rock fans like in their reproductions. Concert sound inside Miami's acoustically challenging basketball arena has rarely been so crisp. As an act of preservation, Queen + Paul Rodgers was hard to fault.
It also worked as a nostalgic singalong for the 8,000 people in attendance. The crowd turned in a rousing chorus of We Are The Champions near the end of the two-hour set.
What the show lacked was a sense of movement or purpose beyond the revisiting of long-gone good times. Like, say, the Rolling Stones, Queen + Paul Rodgers proved itself fit and energetic enough to play its youthful output convincingly and keep a big room entertained.
Unlike the Stones, there was little effort to locate this project in the present, or test the limits of its relevancy today. The ensemble debuted a new song, Take Love Where You Find, but it had the familiar, blues-rock contours of the old Bad Company songs performed on Friday.
It helped, then, to just take the show as you found it, on its own narrow terms.
The stars of the evening were Rodgers' husky voice and May's crunchy guitar tone. Even at his most Queenly, Rodgers would not be mistaken for Mercury, who in his day sang like a show-tune dynamo. But Rodgers was adept with Queen's hardest-rocking songs such as Tie Your Mother Down and with ornate pop numbers such as The Show Must Go On.
May had the same handmade guitar he has used on record and on stage since Queen's beginnings, and he played it with precision and boyish verve. His solo, complete with echo to create the illusion of a guitar army, lasted 10 minutes.
There also were moments devoted to May's band mate, Taylor, one of rock's great underutilized voices. Taylor belted out his signature Queen number, I'm In Love With My Car, and it was one of this show's freshest moments.
During his moment in Mercury's shoes, singing Radio Ga Ga, Taylor paid more affecting tribute to his fallen band mate than did all of the show's Freddie Mercury video reels.