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Manchester Evening News Arena
Wednesday, 5 November, 2008

Like many Queen purists I've been annoyed with some of the creative decisions Brian May and Roger Taylor have made in the post-Freddie Mercury years (like the Robbie Williams and Five collaborations) and I detested the We Will Rock You musical but I had to give this new endeavour a chance. The first tour they did was good but it was obvious Paul Rodgers was not entirely comfortable singing some of the band's back catalogue. This time around they've really nailed it, I think.

The first forty minutes was an exhilarating ride through Queens' greatest hits and as such it was a sing-along journey for the crowd. Sure the set list was a pure crowd pleaser, and hardcore Queen nuts crave the day when they decide to break into something like 'Brighton Rock' or even something really obscure like ''Lily Of The Valley,' but that's not going to happen yet.

But they did play some of the lesser known material from Rodgers' extensive career and it was great to see some archive footage of him on the big screen during an expertly played 'Bad Company.' I don't think he has the right voice for a song like 'I Want To Break Free' but Queen's heavier material (i.e. pre-The Game era) was really well performed especially 'I Want It All.'

Some of the new stuff worked well too ('C-Lebrity') and despite what the high-brow critics have said The Cosmos Rocks does, indeed, rock with a capital 'R.' An acoustic version of Bad Company's 'Seagull' was wonderful but not everyone was interested in Rodgers' solo spot as many used it as a chance to nip to the toilet or get a pint.

There was too much activity on the little stage (which was attached at the end of a long platform extending from the main stage) especially when the entire band (rhythm guitarist Jamie Moses, bassist Danny Miranda and Queen's former touring keyboard player Spike Edney) was assembled to sing the brilliant '39.' It almost seemed pointless just for half a song.

The brilliant Roger Taylor sang 'A King Of Magic' whilst playing the drums although his voice struggled to cope with the demands of the song but 'I'm In Love With My Car' was definitely a highlight of this part of the show. Also, May's guitar solo was predictably overlong and it didn't sound unlike the one on Live Killers.

The set was superbly paced which is something Queen are great at: start loud, slow down, build up again and finish with a bang. I should probably mention that there were some empty seats (but not many); maybe it's because of the poor economic times or maybe it's because they had played a sold out show at Liverpool's Echo Arena a couple of weeks ago.

The encore was predictable but undeniably fun. Maybe next time they can surprise us but for now there's no (major) complaints from me.

Here's what they played: 'Hammer To Fall'/ 'Tie Your Mother Down'/ 'Fat Bottomed Girls' / 'Another One Bites The Dust' / 'I Want It All' / 'I Want To Break Free' / 'C-Lebrity' / 'Surfs Up…Schools Out' / 'Seagull' / 'Love Of My Life' / '39' / 'I'm In Love With My Car' / 'A Kind Of Magic' / 'Say Its Not True' / 'Bad Company' / 'We Believe' / 'Bijou' / 'Last Horizon' / 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' / 'Radio Ga Ga' / 'The Show Must Go On' / 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Encores: 'The Cosmos Rocks' / 'All Right Now' / 'We Will Rock You' / 'We Are The Champions.'

Review by Neil Daniels


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