Thursday, July 24, 2014

Snazzfest Part 1: Queen + Adam Lambert - Mohegan Sun Arena, CT July 19, 2014 Concert Review and Photos

Sometimes things just work out...

I knew I was going to go to a show last Saturday night (July 19, 2014) as I just had that itch that needed some scratching but couldn't narrow it down to just one.  A plan was hatched with my buddy Kev (and his wife who was somewhat dragged along for the ride)...we were going to go for the rare double shot - two shows in one night...

The first show, if you've read the title of this post and I tend to think you have, was to be Queen with Adam Lambert at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT (throughout the night, Queen guitarist Brian May seemed to take much joy in constantly saying Uncasville.)

Now my buddy's wife is the one who got the ball rolling on this one.  She had said when this tour came around that she HAD to see it.  I'll admit it, I was on the fence and when announced hadn't planned on going, but I had heard almost nothing but good things since the tour started and like I said above, things just worked out.

The show evidently was showing as sold out at some point, but then I guess some tix got released.  Kev and wife weren't sure which of the area shows they wanted to see so as of Saturday afternoon, we had no tickets, but ticketmaster was showing a few really crappy upper level seats (for $99) and lower level crappy ones towards the back (for $117) - a tad bit more than I wanted to spend.  At that point I was thinking I would just catch the ride with them to the casino and gamble while they were at the show and just try my luck at show number two.  I decided to check stubhub first.

Found 3 tix on there, lower level right next to stage that originally cost $117, but we got them for $64.  They said "possible obstruction" but that usually just means you're so far to the side you don't get a great view of the video screen in the back.  So we took a chance and got them.

There's usually traffic on the way to Mohegan Sun and they picked me up late, but...things worked out.  No traffic and a little over two hours later we arrive at about a quarter to eight (ticket showing 8:00pm start - no opener).  We park, get to the arena, go through security, grab a beer (my only complaint of the night...what's with the one beer per customer nonsense...I have two hands!), walk in and walk to our AMAZING seats.  Probably 25 feet from the stage and slightly above it on the left side...the "possible obstruction" was just as suspected, but we still had an okay angle and could see the video fine when we wanted to...things are looking good...

Well the lights go down around about 8:20 and after the intro of "Procession" the band kicks things off with "Now I'm Here."  It's immediately apparent the pairing of Queen (which on this tour features original members Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums) with Adam Lambert is a good one on multiple levels.  He has a great voice which works well with the material, great stage presence (but also knows when to take a backseat to the legends) and well, he brings in a whole new audience which certainly isn't hurting ticket sales.  I would say this sold out crowd (with another show added for this coming weekend) is almost split between those who came specifically to see Adam Lambert and those who came to see Queen.  I'll also say, for those that came for Queen, they became Lambert fans by the end of this show if not going into it.

Next up was a song I actually first heard as a teen back in 1989 or so when Metallica covered it, the ultra fast "Stone Cold Crazy", but it would be the following song that was the first of many giant hits to be played on this night.  Those in the crowd that had started to sit down all hopped to their feet when the band busted out "Another One Bites the Dust." 

By the end of this third song, it was official, I was all in (get it...a casino term) and very happy I had decided to check out this show.

Then came one of the highlights of the night for me, the singalong bombast of "Fat Bottomed Girls!"  Get on your bikes and Ride!!!  Hell yes!!

I think it was during the outro to FBG that Lambert left the stage for the first of his many costume changes of the night.

When he came back the band went into a pair of relative back to back deeper cuts with "In the Lap of The Gods... Revisited" directly into "Seven Seas of Rhye".

Let me talk about the stage for a moment.  It was a relatively standard concert stage with giant video backdrop and a long curving walkway that lead to a circular stage in the middle of the floor.  During SSoR we noticed roadies bring a purple crushed velvet lounge onto the small stage.

Lambert came out and plopped down on the lounge to sing "Killer Queen" and Brian May ventured out there to join him for the guitar solo.

Another hit followed with "Somebody to Love" and then the band played one of their later singles with 1989's "I Want it All."

At this point, Adam led the crowd in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to guitarist Brian May.  You can watch the video here.  As the song ends, Brian walks to the mid arena stage with an acoustic guitar where a stool, microphone and spotlight await.

So far the show was paced well.  Mostly hits with a few deeper cuts for the die hards, but this next section of the show was odd in that Lambert leaves the stage for about a half hour.  A portion of the crowd started to grow a bit restless and this was definitely the biggest beer run section of the show, but it also featured some of the most heartfelt songs starting with May's (mostly) solo rendition of "Love of My Life"

While introducing it, Brian asked the crowd to sing along and if they sang well, there would be a surprise.  I think the surprise was obvious to all and it was the appearance of Freddie Mercury on the video screen singing the last verse of the song while May played guitar.  

It was the first appearance of Freddie and brought massive applause.  It would not be the last, with Freddie making two more short appearances.  It seemed...just right.  

After LoML, the rest of the band (without Lambert) joined Brian on the center stage for an acoustic reading of "'39" which is a great song and had the younger gal in front of us turn around and say "Why Don't I know This song?  What's it Called?"  At first I thought she was complaining (she was more interested in constantly turning around and taking selfies with the stage in the background behind her because we were so close - during the final song, she took no less than 15 because she was not happy with the results each time she took one including one time she asked me to take one) but I actually think she liked the song because as we were leaving she asked about it again and wanted to make sure she remembered the title.

"These are the Days of Our Lives" was next with Roger Taylor out in front of his drum kit on lead vocals.  His son Rufus is the second drummer with the band and took over the full drum duties on this one.

This went into a Bass Solo which was followed by A Drum Solo...well more a Duel...with Roger having his kit on the mid arena stage and his son on the Main Stage doing a back and forth "battle."

It was time to get back to the hits and everyone knew one was coming when one of the most iconic bass lines of all time was played "dododo doDuhdodo" which also brought Lambert back to the stage for "Under Pressure" with Roger handling the Bowie parts and Lambert hitting all the high notes during the vocal gymnastics in the middle of the song.  Another highlight for me.

"Love Kills" followed which was a Freddie Mercury solo "disco" song done for a version of the film Metropolis in the early 80's.  The band has changed the arrangement and Lambert made it his own.  I believe they said it will be released on a new Queen album later this year.

This was followed by "Who Wants to Live Forever" which led into the birthday boy's Last Horizon/Guitar solo...

This was at about 10:15 or so and where part two of the story of this night starts to take place...

So maybe the die hard fans who read this will scream blasphemy, but I thought this was the worst part of the show.  Much of the ten minutes of this section of the show is very sonic landscapey and well I just didn't dig it, but screw's his friggin birthday and he's showing his fast finger guitar hero skills in many of the hits so he does something a bit different here...I decided to post a quick pic from the show to facebook...

Now before leaving for the night I posted the following status on facebook "We'll see if the full on concert gods are looking down on me tonight for this potential double bill...last minute decided gonna go see Queen with Adam Lambert at Mohegan Sun and if they come on late enough, gonna drive to Cafe Nine in New Haven to go see punk legends The Meatmen.  Should be a good evening!"

Now, my guess is there are very few people reading this who maybe like punk and who specifically like/heard of the Meatmen.  Well the Meatmen write, in my opinion, extremely funny, yet extremely offensive songs.  New Haven is about an hour drive from Uncasville.  I knew there were three bands opening and that show started at I figured they would prob come on at about midnight and looking at my watch during Brian May's solo, I figured we'd have a decent shot of making it.

Then I checked the comments on my status (and hold on to your shorts Queen fans, I will get back to the Queen review in a minute, but the comments link the two shows and for the few other people in the world who like both bands, you'll want to continue for the full on review of THAT show in the blog that will follow this one)

So real quick, my pal Lizzy who now lives in Cali comments my status and asks about one of their songs and before I get to answer, Tesco Vee, the lead singer of The Meatmen comments and answers her.  He then adds

"I saw Queen last weekend in Detroit and it was awesome!!"


Since he was reading the comments I got to ask him what time he'd hit the stage and he said 11:30 or midnight. 

NICE! looking like we would make the show or at least most of it.

Then he added one final comment "Adam Lambert is pretty snazzy eh?"

I agreed and hence the night became known as "Snazzfest" in my book

So back to the show...The guitar solo ends and the band rips into another highlight of the night "Tie Your Mother Down!"  Just Killer!

This leads into the everyone up on their feet sing and clap along of "Radio Ga Ga" right into "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

"The Show Must Go On" cools off the crowd a little before bringing it all back home for the main set closer of "Bohemian Rhapsody" with Brian May in gold cape of course!

A quick encore break and the band is back with the only two tunes that could end the night properly.  The thunderous drums announce "We Will Rock You" into "We Are The Champions"

I thought the show was great and I think the die hards in attendance probably dug some of the non hits, but man would I have loved to have heard:
Flash (Gordon)
I'm In Love With My Car
Keep Yourself Alive
Bicycle Race 
instead of some of the choices they made...but hell, when you see a classic band, when do you get to hear EVERYTHING you want to hear?

So we left and got to the merch booth so my buddy and wife could get some swag and hightailed it to the car.  We were on the road at 11:09...we got to New Haven almost exactly at midnight and what happened next?

Well if you really want to know (or want to know more about this band you've just heard of called The Meatmen who evidently has a lead singer who is a Queen fan) then you'll have to wait til tomorrow or the next day when I post "Snazzfest" Part 2: The Meatmen - Cafe 9, New Haven CT July 19,2014

Thanks for reading.  Please join the Facebook group for this blog if you dug this or want to comment.  Also if you click on any of the pictures they will open to a super size version. Enjoy!