I was lucky enough to see Queen perform live in 1978. I remember it as being magical, and yet at the same time I know I wasn't old enough to really appreciate what I was seeing.
I had mixed emotions going into the show tonight. I love the music, and I love the band. But I loved Freddie and that amazing, magical voice, and nobody could ever replace that.
Happily, Paul Rodgers didn't try. He brought his own style to the music-- more rock, less theatrical, less flamboyant. There were a couple of places where I just shook my head and said, "Nope, that doesn't work", but far fewer than I expected. Mostly, it was a high-energy extremely well-done tour of Queen's music (with some Bad Company stuff thrown in). Without Freddie claiming all the attention, I realized what an amazing guitarist Brian May really is. Roger Taylor looks too old to be a rock drummer, but he didn't sound it. He did a couple of vocal solos, and he sounds just as good as he did decades ago.
Brian did a tremendous rendition of Love of my Life, just him and an acoustic twelve-string acoustic guitar. "This is a Freddie song, and he really should be singing it, but I'll give it my best."
As always, Queen does harmony like nobody else.
There was one song where I just clenched my fists and muttered, "it's a cover band", to myself until it's over. I've always seen The Show Must Go On as Freddie's swan song, and his voice on the recording is so heartbreakingly beautiful and haunting that I just can't stand to hear anyone else do it, especially not badly.
No Queen show is complete without Bohemian Rhapsody, and this one was perfect in every way. It's started with blackness and an empty stage, followed by a recorded version of the song and a video montage of Freddie-- playing the piano, strutting around the stage, and just being the diva that he was. I broke down and cried in the middle of it, tears for the man who was cut down in his prime, for the horrible disease that has taken so many from us, but mostly for all of the music that will never exist.
And then, past the operatic section, the band joined in. Instrumentals, and then vocals, so that Freddie was singing with the band on stage. It was a powerful tribute to a great man.
(Update: evwhore was there too. He didn't like it as much.)