Adam Lambert confesses fear of following Freddie Mercury before first full Queen concert

17 February 2022, 12:36 | Updated: 17 February 2022, 13:25

Freddie Mercury had some iconic shoes to fill. And Adam Lambert knew it.
Freddie Mercury had some iconic shoes to fill. And Adam Lambert knew it. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

Filling the shoes of an iconic frontman is always a tall order.

And becoming the 'new guy' in the band is no doubt nerve-wracking, as it will always cause a commotion amongst that particular band's fanbase.

'Why not leave it alone?'. 'Can they even sing as well?'. 'What if they completely destroy everything I've known and loved about them?'.

Those are usually some of the sentiments thrown up once a band opens its doors to a new singer, albeit a bit dramatic at times.

But what if that singer happens to be the greatest frontman in rock 'n' roll history?

That's precisely the mountain that Adam Lambert had to climb when joining Queen, replacing the one and only Freddie Mercury.

And although both Brian May and Roger Taylor thought he could bring something totally new to their dynamic, it didn't stop Lambert from feeling intimated. And who can blame him?

Adam Lambert certainly didn't show any nerves throughout his first full live concert with Queen. (Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images)
Adam Lambert certainly didn't show any nerves throughout his first full live concert with Queen. (Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images). Picture: Getty

The live concert was where Freddie truly thrived, and Lambert recognised he faced a huge uphill task before he played his first full live show with Queen.

Chatting about the experience running up to the show in the latest episode of Queen the Greatest, the band recall the emotions before their show in Kiev at the Let's Stop AIDS Together! concert alongside Elton John in 2012.

In front of 350,000 people no less, with more eager viewers tuning in to watch from their homes.

It wasn't the first time Lambert had been on stage with Brian May and Roger Taylor, as they'd already performed together at the 2009 American Idol final and the 2011 MTV European Music Awards where they played an eight-minute medley of Queen's greatest hits.

Still, that didn't stop Lambert from thinking, "‘Oh God, I hope this is the right idea’", as he watched Elton from the sidelines.

“I think it must have been the most terrifying moment for Adam." Brian recalls. "He didn't look like it was terrifying. He looked like he did this every day.”

Adam Lambert and Brian May had great on-stage chemistry together, despite having only performed together a handful of times. (Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images)
Adam Lambert and Brian May had great on-stage chemistry together, despite having only performed together a handful of times. (Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images). Picture: Getty

Despite his cool exterior at the time, the current Starstruck judge confessed that he "definitely was intimidated by the idea of singing somebody else's songs, especially from such a beloved band."

"In the back of my head, I was like, ‘Oh God, I hope this is the right idea’. You know, I'm so excited to sing these songs, but I don't know how it's going to be received."

May then added: "It was a tall order, and I think we all knew it, and that gig was put in at the front of the tour to enormous numbers of people."

The American Idol star recalled that it was the band's keyboard player Spike Edney that helped him settle in on stage.

“I had a lot of help. Spike [Edney], who was on keys, I kept looking at over and over again, like, ‘Am I supposed to come in here? How long is the guitar solo? Is it my turn?’"

"It was fun and it was thrilling, and it was what I love the most about being a vocalist, the adrenaline. It's the thrill of something that could possibly go wrong. I like that. I like the danger in that."

Of course, the show was a resounding success with Lambert bringing his A-game and helping to usher in an exciting new era of Queen.

Roger Taylor, casual as ever, said he was confident from the get-go. “I had no doubts he could do it. It was good… the feeling was good.”

Guitarist Brian then added “He's out there, putting it out there and he sang great and interacted great, and it was a big success. An incredible thing for a new member of a group to step on stage and do that."

"I took my hat off to him at the time. And, of course, the rest was easy after that."

Gladly they're still continuing to tour together, with plenty of dates announced in 2022 as part of the Queen + Adam Lambert: Rhapsody Tour.