It seems like a lifetime ago, but 2020 started with Queen and Adam Lambert filling and thrilling stadiums across the country.
By their last Australian show in late February they’d dealt with heat and torrential rain in their outdoor shows.
By March, COVID-19 shut down the world, putting their entire global tour on hold.
“We had a great tour of Australia, came back and everything went to s—,” Lambert laughs.
He’d planned to balance his lucrative work with Queen with promoting and touring his fourth solo album Velvet, including a Vegas run.
“I was going full steam, put Velvet out in March and a week later everything was cancelled,” Lambert says.
“I had to mourn the loss of those opportunities. Once I got over that I thought ‘OK, let me just chill, sit on the couch, watch some shows’. I tried to look on the bright side, this is a time to reflect and create. I did some writing, Zoom sessions with songwriters …”
During lockdown Lambert and Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May sat down and compiled a concert album (on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and DVD) – Live Around the World – as a thank you to fans who missed out on seeing them on tour.
While they recorded a COVID WHO charity single (You Are the Champions) this year, the live album is the first major Queen release featuring Lambert.
“This is the best scrapbook I could ever make, a retrospective of the last seven years of working together. It’s very exciting to have something to show for it and to sum it all up.”
They selected different performances (“we wanted to capture the magic of a live show”) by watching hours of concerts.
“I got a kick out of remembering what I wore. I’m always changing up costumes for different songs and tours, so it was fun trip down memory lane.
“But I’m really hard on myself, I pick everything apart, I’ll watch it and think ‘That doesn’t sound great’. But I’ve gotten better at understanding that not everyone’s sitting there analysing every note I sing, it’s not that technical for a viewer. The important thing is that the energy, the intention and the spirit of right.”
As well as their take on solo Mercury material Love Kills and I Was Born To Love You, the album includes their entire performance from this year’s Fire Fight Australia concert, where they recreated Queen’s legendary 22 minute Live Aid set.
Lambert and Queen had sat down and re-watched the original show in New Zealand, but kept it a surprise until the night.
“The superfans picked up on it, that was exciting,” Lambert remembers.
“It was our nod to Live Aid, the movie (Bohemian Rhapsody) recreated that so well, we knew it was fresh in everybody’s mind, it’s become so iconic.”
The hardest Queen songs to sing? “There’s a few that are very athletic and demanding. Who Wants To Live Forever is a big song, it goes from a very sensitive soft zero to 60 in a few minutes. The Show Must Go On is a big vocal. Another One Bites the Dust has a lot of grit to it. Doing an arena or stadium show, there’s a lot of people there. I definitely get an adrenaline high off performing. It also requires a lot of energy.”
Lambert continues to clarify that he’s not trying to replace Mercury during Queen shows, although a recent post from Brian May calling him a “rock star” divided the band’s diehards.
“I think I’ve definitely earned my spot, but I like addressing it. I think it’s important to communicate that I know my place. I love Freddie, I think he’s irreplaceable. He’s very much a part of the show, we have him on screen, you hear his voice, it’s really a celebration of Queen’s musical legacy. It’s important for the audience to know how I feel about it.”
With live work on hold, Lambert’s dream of one day writing a musical has been fast forwarded.
He’s now based in London, co-creating a musical from the ground up.
“It’s not autobiographical. A lot of the themes are definitely ones I find very important and that are near to my heart. That’s about all I can say about it, it’s too soon.”
He’s also done a Netflix animated show and one episode of new space comedy Moon Base 8.
“I’ve been auditioning here and there, I’m not just sitting there waiting for someone to hand me something, I’m definitely willing to do the work.”
Lambert is also using his social media to support Joe Biden in the US elections.
“It’s a time of divisiveness, it’s transcended politics at this point. It’s become a human rights situation, good versus evil in my opinion. I really hope Biden gets voted in because anything is better than Trump.”
Live Around the World (Universal) is out now.