Brian May in rhapsodies over Queen's NZ return with Adam Lambert

By Russell Baillie

Brian May and Adam Lambert on stage in Chicago last month. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)
Brian May and Adam Lambert on stage in Chicago last month. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)

Queen, one of the biggest-selling, best-loved and most enduring bands in rock history is heading to Auckland for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Despite the death of the band's flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury in 1991, Queen is playing Vector Area on Wednesday, September 3 - with American Idol star Adam Lambert on vocals.

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Lambert first performed with original Queen members guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor in 2009, on the television singing competition that launched his solo career.

The band and Lambert have since toured together, first in Europe in 2012 and in the United States and Canada in recent months, where they have been winning rave reviews from critics.

Speaking to Timeout from Toronto this week, May said he was heartened by the social media reaction to Lambert's stage performance from diehard Queen fans who might be sceptical about the combo.

"The fit is incredibly good and, from the point of view of Queen fans, Adam is just 100 per cent better than anyone realised.

"Adam has got a voice in a billion and his range is stupendous and he has now learned, as Freddie did, to bring it into harness - he's not a boy anymore and his interpretation of songs is breathtaking."

Watch a clip from the opening night of Queen with Adam Lambert's North American tour

May refuted the notion that he and Taylor could be seen as playing in a tribute band to themselves.

"The tribute band will reproduce what we used to do, whereas what we are doing now is taking it to a different place, evolving it in a different way and it's a joy.

"Within our show we have little points of nodding to Freddie and we are very conscious that it could be too much and it could be too little. But we think we've got it just fine to make that connection and reinforce that Freddie, in a sense is very much still part of this."

May says he well remembers Queen's last appearance in New Zealand - in 1985 at the height of their stadium-filling heyday.

"Oh my God. You bet I remember it. It was one of the greatest moments of our lives. It was such a stupendous gig, on and off stage. Auckland was just incredible. Incredibly memorable. ..."

Er, why?

"That would be telling. It was a very strange day and Tony Hadley [Spandau Ballet] was there, who was a great friend of Freddie's and I think the show was delayed for some technical reason and the two of them had a lot to drink before the show started.

"So it was very memorable for us and quite exciting. I still think it was a great show."

The Queen show at Vector promises "a truly stunning production that encapsulates all the operatic spectacle and glamour befitting a Queen performance". May says as well as the best-known hits, they will be performing some older album tracks for fans of the band's early hard rock period.

Tickets go on sale 9am, Thursday July 24.

Mi-Sex reboots Computer Games, live

In other tour news, a reunited Mi-Sex are keeping their promise to "get together and perform at least a few times each year", by scheduling three shows in August.

The Kiwi new wave rockers once known for hits like Computer Games, People and Blue Day will perform at The Studio in Auckland on August 28, Bar Bodega in Wellington on August 29 and Sammys in Dunedin on August 30.

Standing in for the late Steve Gilpin on vocals will be Steve Balbi of Australian band Noiseworks and supporting them will be the Eddie Rayner Project.

Pre-sale tickets are available on Eventfinder, with door prices ranging from $50 to $60.
Meanwhile, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is planning a one-off visit in September.

Famous for her single Avant Gardener, which details a panic attack in the middle of a heat wave, Barnett will perform at the King's Arms in Auckland on July 17.

Tickets are available through Dash Tickets.

- TimeOut

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