Freddie Mercury was irreplaceable, one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time.
But two of his Queen bandmates, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, have continued to play the London group’s songs all over the world with a number of talented vocalists standing in for Mercury, who died in 1991. And Adam Lambert, a Californian pop star who rose to fame a decade ago after singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in his American Idol audition, has gamely shared the stage with Queen on several tours since 2014. Queen + Adam Lambert’s earlier tours focused on the group’s greatest hits, but over time setlists have incorporated more of the album tracks that Mercury loved to perform. So here’s a playlist that will help catch you up to speed on the less famous corners of the Queen discography before their concert at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
Queen + Adam Lambert’s current trek, the Rhapsody Tour, is in part a celebration of the enormous success of the 2018 film about the band, Bohemian Rhapsody, for which actor Rami Malek won an Oscar. And recent setlists have been heavy on the album “Bohemian Rhapsody” appeared on, 1975’s A Night At The Opera, including deep cuts like the Brian May vocal “’39” and “Love of My Life,” a song that has enjoyed a heightened profile thanks to its prominent placement in the film. The movie’s soundtrack has also given renewed life to famous Queen concert moments like Freddie Mercury’s “Ay-Oh” call-and-response routine at their legendary at Live Aid set in 1985.
Although Queen tackled everything from disco to rockabilly and, of course, opera, they were also one of the greatest hard rock bands of the ’70s. Metallica has covered their proto-metal live staple “Stone Cold Crazy”; Nine Inch Nails recorded “Get Down, Make Love.” Slash has cited one of Roger Taylor’s rare guitar performances, “Fight From the Inside,” as one of his favorite riffs. 1974’s “Now I’m Here” was a minor hit in the U.K. and never released as a single in America, but the original Queen lineup played it more than any other song during its ’70s and ’80s tours, and it’s once again become a frequent opening song at their 2019 concerts.
The Queen discography holds a lot of delights that hits compilations and the biopic gloss over. Mercury wrote the vicious “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To…)” after a falling out with Queen’s first manager Norman Sheffield. (Rather than detail that feud, Bohemian Rhapsody skipped over Sheffield entirely, making his replacement, John Reid, the band’s first manager.) Bassist John Deacon famously penned “Another One Bites the Dust,” but his songwriting contributions also included great groove-driven deep cuts like “You and I” and “Misfire.” And while the film ended the story at Live Aid in 1985, Freddie Mercury went on to record four more Queen albums in his final years, including 1995’s posthumously completed Made in Heaven, singing brilliantly to the very end.