Queen - The Crown Jewels Residency
MGM Park Theater Las Vegas
September 19, 2018
Story by James West, The-Rocker.com
Photos by Danette West, TheRockerChic.com
A couple of years ago when I first learned about Queen touring with Adam Lambert I was a bit put off to say the least! How could they? It was bad enough I had to endure Queen with Paul Rodgers a few years ago (although I’m a huge Paul Rodgers fan). Everybody knows it just ain’t Queen without Freddie, right?
Wrong. I learned that lesson last week on a quick dash to
Vegas to see one of the Queen Residency shows at the MGM Park Theater. The Rocker Chic knew I was a bit depressed after having to cancel plans to visit family out of state for my birthday this year. The funds and time simply were not available to make it happen.
Queen Reigns Supreme!
I’ve known of the Queen residency in Vegas coming for quite awhile now, but I kept putting it off in lieu of the Lambert thing. But the deep desire to see a band that has had such a great impact on my childhood and teen years has kept me wondering what if? What if I could just go and just see the band and hear the songs that are so engraved deep into my lifeforce. Queen is truly a sum of all its parts, even though Freddie was undeniably a huge part of the formula that made Queen who they are.
Then my beloved Rocker Chic unveiled the surprise- two tickets to see the show on a night I was actually scheduled off work, and she surprised me on my
birthday with them! Of course, funds are tight, so she got what we could afford right now, and that was two tickets in the back row of the theater. But it didn’t matter, I was going to go see Queen live for the first time in my life and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for Danette, the Queen of my life!
From Father To Son In Law...
Then tragedy struck our lives…
The Rocker Chic’s Dad, my wonderful Father in Law, passed away after a long battle with coronary heart disease suddenly a few days after my birthday surprise. Also, for those who do not know, I lost my beloved sister a year ago due to lung cancer, so September was already a very difficult month to get through, and now this? What do we do?
Music, and especially Rock and Roll, has saved both The Rocker Chic and My life on several occasions throughout our lives. The power of the music and the magic of the words have helped soothe our souls over the years, and like any rock and roll couple, we turned to what could help ease our pain- Each other and also the power of Rock! We decided we needed a Night At The Opera with Queen.
Obviously our first thought was to simply cancel our Queen plans as we and the rest of her family were grieving and funeral arrangements had to be made. My wife carried a lot of the weight in taking care of these arrangements and in preparing personal dedications from the family. After a few days the stress and weight became overwhelming on her. She needed a break, even if for a little while, to get her mind off things…
Baseball Stadium Meets Cirque Du Soleil
The four-hour drive to Vegas was filled with celebrating the music of Queen and recalling the wonderful memories of her beloved father. Upon arrival to the MGM Park Theater, the Queen song The Show Must Go On came on and we were ready for We Will Rock You!
The Park Theater in Las Vegas was good size to accommodate 5,000 people per show of the residency, and our night was jam-packed full of Queen fans young and old, well… mostly old in our case. But it was cool to see people from all over the world there to celebrate a band that truly had a World Fanbase of Queen admirers.
Even though our back-row seats were just that they weren’t that bad as the back section had a huge slope to it as to
keep everyone close to the action on stage. It reminded me a little of a baseball stadium but in a Cirque Du Soleil - type theater setting.
Let Me Entertain You!
To say that Queen had carefully orchestrated the stage props, effects, and lighting to full effect would be an understatement, as the huge robot found on News Of The World came out of the backdrop screen and opened the Queen vault to a thunderous We Will Rock You via Live Killers version to start the show!
The stage was shaped like a guitar body; with both Brian May and Roger Taylor thankfully on my side of stage (Thanks Rocker Chic!). Adam Lambert pranced around center stage mostly, and bassist Neil Fairclough , keyboardist Spike Edney, and percussionist Tyler Warren hovered in the shadows for most of the show. The concert was both musically and visually stunning with the band and especially Brian and Roger not missing a riff or beat.
Songs were mostly off the Greatest Hits playlist which provided a nice summary of the bands’ near 50-year history, but it would have been nice to hear some of my favorites like Death On Two Legs and Dragon Attack. The Song my wife was most looking forward to though was Love Of My Life as it reminded her of the love that her Mom and Dad had shared for over 50 years! Brian sang and
played the song acoustically to a backdrop of hundreds of cell phones and even had an appearance of his long, lost friend Freddie appear on the screen behind him to assist.
To be honest I started the show taking pictures mostly of Brian and Roger and even asked The Rocker Chic to focus more on them also. But I couldn’t resist shooting a few shots of Adam also, especially after he made that awesome tribute near the beginning of the show saying, "Some of you might be like, ‘This is great but he’s no Freddie.’ No shit! There can be only one… Do you love Freddie? Do you miss Freddie? Me too. I’m exactly the same as you guys. I’m a fan too." That, combined with the inclusion of Mr. Mercury during parts of the show, made me more of a fan of Adam Lambert and of this touring incarnation of Queen. Vocally, Adam did deliver the goods with the exception of a few too many operatic octave changes that rambled on a bit. Visually, he was Dead On Time as the song says, with plenty of pomp and posturing that Freddie would have applauded. I
especially liked his performance sitting on top of Frank the robot and also peddling a bicycle during Bicycle Race.
Going Ga Ga with Frank The Robot
I used to hate songs like Bicycle Race, Another One Bites The Dust, and especially Radio Ga Ga in my teens and twenties. Now, I welcome them and the diversity they bring, especially in a live environment. There was never a lull during any of Queen’s performance that night. You found yourself going, “bring it on, what’s next, I can’t wait!” The highs
for me were Brian May’s stellar guitar solo whilst standing in the hand of Frank the robot and also Roger Taylor’s performance of I’m In Love With My Car and his extended drum solo.
As per their usual presentation of Bohemian Rhapsody the massive video screens brought back the original foursome in all their glory, and soon after the final album version encore of We Will Rock You Frank the robot brought the evening to a close by pushing the fault doors back together and waving goodbye.
Thank you Brian May, Roger Taylor, Adam Lambert, and the rest of the Queen and MGM organizations for putting on not only one of the best shows on the strip, but of also delivering one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. If only Freddie were there. But he was- in the hearts of the fans and the souls of those performing. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I’m taking this one with me…
12. Heartbreak Hotel
13. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
14. Drum Solo
15. Under Pressure
16. You Take My Breath Away/
Who Wants to Live Forever
17. Guitar Solo
18. The Show Must Go On
19. Radio Ga Ga
20. Bohemian Rhapsody
21. We Will Rock You (Album Version)
Queen Set List
September 19, 2018
MGM Park Theater
Las Vegas, Nevada
We Will Rock You
Tie Your Mother Down
Somebody to Love
Fat Bottomed Girls
Don't Stop Me Now
I'm in Love With My Car
Another One Bites the Dust
I Want It All
Love of My Life
Dad loved his wife Peggy, his family, and his faith.
"Thank you for being my friend, and for allowing me the honor of marrying your wonderful daughter!"
Love Eternal, James West