Kicking off with ‘Now I’m Here’, before segueing into an extended medley of early cuts that included ‘Tear it Up’ and ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’, the icons exuded charisma, with the songs and high energy performance lifting the atmosphere in the arena to fever pitch from the off.
Led by the flamboyant Adam Lambert, who strode on stage in sparkling suit, platform shoes, and ludicrously oversized top hat, the singer simply owned the stage. A born performer and show off, the American front man proved exactly why he’s spent a decade fronting the band, looking equal parts man in charge, and relaxed and at home, as he pranced, thrust, paraded and strutted his way up and down the catwalk into the centre of the arena.
What followed was a veritable hit factory, worthy of their status as the ultimate singles band. From ‘Killer Queen’ to ‘Bicycle Race’ to ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ to ‘I Want it All’, they just kept coming.
Greeting the crowd, Lambert appeared genuinely delighted to be back; “Are you guys having fun?” he asked, before confessing; “You know that I'm a fan just like you. I'm so honoured to be up here to celebrate the one, the only, irreplaceable Freddie Mercury!”
Handing over the reins to May who had taken up residence with an acoustic guitar at the end of the walkway, the guitarist seemed elated to be out performing once again. “Good evening beautiful people of Belfast”, he exclaimed; “I have so many emotions going on in my head I can't even believe. Two years ago the world stopped, and now two years later, we can do this again! I love you guys.”
Going on to play “a little old Irish folk song written by Freddie Mercury”, a tender run through ‘Love of My Life’ brought a welcome change of pace, with the vocal trade off between Brian and his late band mate proving one of the evening’s most beautiful moments.
He wasn’t the only fallen musician to be remembered during the evening, with Taylor making a special dedication during an incredible ‘Under Pressure’, saying simply; “this one’s for Taylor Hawkins”.
Debuting ‘A Kind of Magic’ for the first time with Lambert at the helm meanwhile, May revealed some first-night nerves as he quipped; “we haven't tried that before - was that okay?!”
He needn’t have worried, and in a night of highlights far too numerous to mention – Dr. May’s guitar solo atop an asteroid out in the stratosphere; the party atmosphere created by ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’; the glorious word-for-word singalong to set closer ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’; the outstanding production and laser light show – it was just another to add to the list.
Taking their bows following the perfect one-two encore of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’, the band said farewell to a rousing standing ovation.
There’s a reason why Queen are so beloved, and with Queen + Adam Lambert carrying on the legend with such fearless abandon, their legacy is in safe hands.
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Darren McLoughlin.