Queen’s legendary lead singer may have gone on to the great stage in the sky, but his spirit pervaded Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on Monday as his band electrified the more than 50,000 fans who had come from all over the country to hear some of the greatest hits the 1970s and 1980s produced.
Not that half-Jewish American singer Adam Lambert didn’t give a rocking rendition of hits ranging from “Fat Bottomed Girls” to “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Killer Queen.” He even managed a few words of Yiddish, light-heartedly complaining “Oy vey iz mir, oy gevald, it’s hot here!”
Connecting the young Lambert with Mercury — who died in 1991 from AIDS-related complications, and who would have celebrated his 70th birthday last week — were two original members of the band, Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, white-haired but still energetic.
May told the crowd he’d heard that “in Israel, you sing quite well,” before launching into a haunting solo of the ballad “Love of my Life” and encouraging the crowd to accompany him “for Freddie.”
And it was the one and only Freddie — born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar — who featured on the larger-than-life video clips and whose voice could be heard intermittently over the amplifiers.
Mercury’s vocals could dance up four octaves and back, and his poetic genius gave us such hits as “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Adam Lambert first connected with Queen in 2009, after May and Taylor had served as mentors on the music competition TV show “American Idol,” in which Lambert finished as runner-up.