Published Date: 24 October 2008
By Rachael Clegg
THE sound of crashing thunder fills the Sheffield Arena as Queen and Paul Rodgers break through a cloud of dry ice.
The band is greeted with rapturous applause, opening with the 1984 hit Hammer to Fall.
Rodgers takes his perch for the night, swinging his mic stand over zealously as his bold voice fills the arena. Tonight's set is a mixed affair of material from Queen and Paul Rodgers' latest album, The Cosmos Rocks and classic numbers from Queen's 30-year career with Freddie Mercury as frontman.
Fat Bottomed Girls, Another One Bites the Dust and I Want to Break Free are played as a medley. Rodgers may have big shoes to fill – but the audience is convinced he can do the job. He's as comfortable with Queen classics as he is with new, riffy numbers such as C-lebrity. References to Mercury underpin tonight's show. Bohemian Rhapsody fuses video footage and vocal samples of Mercury singing with live guitar and drums – an effective solution to the impossible task of covering Mercury's operatic vocals.
For Love of My Life guitar maestro and astrophysicist Dr Brian May plays solo, dedicating the song to Mercury as he opens the tune's tender melody. His voice is delicate yet steely – prompting tears throughout the audience. On louder numbers May's energy is astounding, pacing the entire stage while playing elaborate instrumentals. He stops only at the spot-lit upper tier of the stage to play against a backdrop of stars and meteorites. The thunder, the dry ice and Rodger's constant mic swinging are all rock cliches, but the crowd howls with appreciation. Tonight the Cosmos definitely rocks.
Sheffield Arena link