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Queen+ Paul Rodgers: Return of the Champions

The show must go on indeed. I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to think when word leaked out that Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen were getting together with former Free/Bad Company/The Firm vocalist Paul Rodgers for a tour. Being a long time Queen fan as well as very much into most of the bands Rodgers has played with, I respected all their separate works but was sceptical that they could share the same stage playing Queen, Bad Company, and Free classics. Plus, Freddie Mercury was such and endearing and special performer, who could possibly sing these legendary Queen songs? Well, after a friendship that kindled between Brian and Paul at the Fender Guitar Anniversary concert, the wheels were set in motion to have the three musicians put something together. Queen bassist John Deacon decided to opt out of this venture as he has retired from touring, so May, Taylor, and Rodgers put together a band and took to the road. Well, damn it worked, and worked well. Billed as Queen + Paul Rodgers, which I think was the right way to do it so as it doesn't come off as "the new Queen" with Rodgers replacing Mercury. The guys rip through roughly 25 classics on this 2 CD set, and there were many occasions where the emotions were running through me as I heard these songs once again, as it comes across as a group of friends having a good time playing some classic material and paying tribute to one of the most original singers and entertainers ever in rock and roll, the late, great, Freddie Mercury.

Right off the bat, it's obvious that Paul Rodgers sounds better than ever. Like a fine wine, his voice appears to be getting stronger and richer as he grows older, and he does a fine job on rockers like "Fat Bottomed Girls", "Tie Your Mother Down", "Hammer to Fall", a surprisingly heavy "I Want to Break Free", and the powerul "Show Must Go On". Roger Taylor also shows that his vocals have indeed stayed sharp, getting the lead slot on half of 'Radio Ga Ga", "I'm In Love With My Car", and the poignant "Say It's Not True". Brian May even gets to step up to the microphone on the lovely songs "39" and "Love of My Life", which sees the entire audience singing along on one of the most heartfelt songs in the set that is sure to put a tear in your eye.

The Free and Bad Company songs sounds just fine as well, with Brian May's beefy guitar sound behind such staples as "Wishing Well", "Feel Like Making Love", "Can't Get Enough", and of course "All Right Now". May demonstrates throughout this 2 CD set why he is one of the most talented and underrated guitarists in rock, as his tasty leads and crunchy riffs run rampant on many of the songs. Give Rodgers credit here, as he does a fine job singing his rendtions of Freddie's lines, adding a bluesy take to Mercury's more theatrical singing style, and as a wonderful tribute, the band filters Freddie's vocals in through the PA on "Bohemian Rhapsody" while they grind out the music, giving a feeling that the late singer is there in spirit (his mother was actually in attendance that night, as it was announced by the band in between one of the songs).

So, all you doubting Thomas's who refuse to give this live set a try, accept it for what it is and enjoy. It's not Queen, but it's a great tribute to Freddie Mercury and the music he helped create, and lots of fun. For many, it's refreshing to hear these songs played once again by a few members of the original Queen plus their pal who is a legendary rock singer in his own right, and the results are more than commendable. They could have gone out years ago and gotten some Freddie soundalike, but the fact that they waited till the moment felt right, with a singer who sounds nothing like Mercury and would add a different spin on this material, was a good thing in my book.

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. Reaching Out (1.06)
2. Tie Your Mother Down (4.33)
3. I Want To Break Free (3.55)
4. Fat Bottomed Girls (5.50)
5. Wishing Well (4.34)
6. Another One Bites The Dust (3.53)
7. Crazy Little Thing Called Love (4.45)
8. Say It's Not True (4.16)
9. '39 (4.37)
10. Love Of My Life (5.00)
11. Hammer To Fall (6.44)
12. Feel Like Making Love (6.27)
13. Let There Be Drums
14. I'm In Love With My Car (3.35)
15. Guitar Solo (7.00)
16. Last Horizon (4.35)

Disc: 2
1. These Are The Days Of Our Lives (4.36)
2. Radio Ga Ga (6.00)
3. Can't Get Enough (4.21)
4. A Kind Of Magic (6.07)
5. I Want It All (5.00)
6. Bohemian Rhapsody (6.23)
7. The Show Must Go On (4.36)
8. All Right Now (6.54)
9. We Will Rock You (2.34)
10. We Are The Champions (4.34)
11. God Save The Queen (1.21)

Added: February 12th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Queen Website
Hits: 2339
Language: english

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