Queen’s Brian May: American Idol’s Adam Lambert ‘would meet with Freddie’s approval’

Queen will return to at the UK’s Knebworth Park – the site of its final live performance with Freddie Mercury – this summer with American Idol finalist Adam Lambert fronting the band.

“Judging by my incoming mail, this decision will make a lot of people very happy,” May said. “It’s a worthy challenge for us, and I’m sure Adam would meet with Freddie’s approval!”

Queen will headline the Sonisphere festival, topping a concert bill that includes Kiss, Faith No More, Evanescence, Incubus, The Darkness, Mastodon and others. Sonisphere is set for July 6-8; see Sonispherefestivals.com for more details.

“What better place to revisit, and walk those emotional paths than Knebworth?” May said. “It will be a rush.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We dig into Queen favorites like "Under Pressure," "Spread Your Wings" and "Stone Cold Crazy," then return for spins of "You're My Best Friend," "Ogre Battle" and "Flash".]

Lambert’s return to front Queen had been long rumored. He’d previously performed with Queen’s May and Roger Taylor during an “American Idol” finale, and again at the 2011 EMA Awards, though that was only for a few songs.

“I’m completely in awe of the Queen phenomenon,” Lambert said. “The thought of sharing the stage for a full set is so beautifully surreal. I’m honored to be able to pay my respects to Freddie’s memory. He’s a personal hero of mine and I am deeply grateful for the chance to sing such powerful music for fans of this legendary band. I know the evening will be a huge milestone for me, and with the support of Brian, Roger and the rest of the band I know magic will be on display.”

Mercury was Queen’s frontman from its inception through his AIDS-related death in the early 1990s. Lambert would be the band’s second replacement on lead vocals: Paul Rodgers, former leader of Bad Company, also sang with the band in the last decade before departing in 2009.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Queen. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

QUEEN – DAYS OF OUR LIVES DVD (2012): As this sprawling new documentary makes clear, Queen knew — and from the very beginning — that they were on to something. That it took everyone else so long to notice only seemed to spark them to greater heights of genre-jumping, expectation-confounding genius. Because of the way that they had built their own legacy, Queen didn’t have a working template to get trapped in. “They were very opened minded, Queen audiences,” May adds. “We never felt constrained.”

ONE TRACK MIND: TANGERINE DREAM WITH BRIAN MAY, “STAR SOUNDS” (2011): You suspected, just from listening to his wildly inventive work with Queen, that there was little guitarist Brian May couldn’t do. This live collaboration with space-music pioneer Edgar Froese’s Tangerine Dream confirms it. Sure, May has a well-known interest in the cosmos and its exploration, having earned a doctorate degree in astrophysics. But, for all of the many styles that May has excelled at over the years, for all of the times he’s played completely in service of the song — showing such great flamboyance, then such sharp-edged restraint — I still didn’t know what to expect once that famously bushy mane was dropped in amidst this kind of long-form, open-ended improvisational music. We will, we will … space you?

ONE TRACK MIND: QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS, “SAY IT’S NOT TRUE” (2007): “Say It’s Not True” originally appeared on the group’s 2005 live album, Return of the Champions, in a more stripped-down acoustic form sung by Roger Taylor. This version, however, is a much more embellished studio recording with Brian May and Paul Rodgers contributing significantly. Otherwise, it’s a very typical charity song: The lyrics were a bit trite and obvious; the melody was also a bit simplistic. It felt like something we’d heard a million times before. Yet, while there were no real surprises in store, it managed to invoke some of the magic of Queen: It builds at just the right moment into a glorious power ballad.

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