Queen + Paul Rodgers
At: the DCU Center, Worcester, Friday night
WORCESTER -- It was much trumpeted as a Queen reunion, but no matter how much you squinted as the awkwardly named Queen + Paul Rodgers combo pounded out beloved classic rock anthems at the DCU Center on Friday night, it just wasn't anything close.
The two-hour stadium spectacular combined the talents of Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, who performed their songs along with those from Rodgers's erstwhile bands Bad Company and Free. Rodgers's less hit-spangled stint with Jimmy Page in the Firm was duly ignored. As was bassist Danny Miranda's former association with Blue Oyster Cult (more cowbell!). Guitarist Jamie Moses, from May's band, and longtime Queen keyboard player Spike Edney rounded out the seasoned crew.
Rodgers, who back in his longer-haired and slimmer-hipped Free days pioneered rock posturing, twirled the mike high in the air like a triumphant warrior as his sultry, blues-rock voice belted out Queen's ''Tie Your Mother Down," ''Fat Bottomed Girls," and ''Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Bad Company's ''Feel Like Makin' Love" and ''Bad Company" and a predictable ''Can't Get Enough of Your Love" were a cinch. Some songs, however, were lifeless: ''I Want to Break Free," ''Another One Bites the Dust," and ''Come on Down" were plain, stodgy stomps. May's guitar solo spot, which consisted of rudimentary chords fed through a pitch shifter and/or delay, was less appealing than Taylor's vocal leads on a warm ''I'm in Love With My Car" and a bland ''Radio Ga Ga." A newly minted song, the raunchy, midtempo ''Take Love," which was written by Rodgers with May and Taylor, made this jaunt seem a preliminary exercise and a studio disc a reasonable near-future possibility.
The most haunting moment came when the video screen displayed 1970s footage of Queen: skinny, sexy kids with cool haircuts and endless possibilities. Before an encore of ''We Will Rock You," Free's ''Alright Now," and ''We Are the Champions" came the audacious ''Bohemian Rhapsody." As Taylor and May played their parts, a video screen displayed footage of the late Freddie Mercury singing and playing piano. For a while the pair were actually backing a tape of themselves. Eventually the band moved in, with Rodgers voicing the song's more rocking parts. Superstar karaoke.