Live review: TRNSMT, Glasgow, Fri 6 Jul
- Henry Northmore
- 9 July 2018
Queen + Adam Lambert reign supreme as TRNSMT goes rock with The Xcerts, Mason Hill, Hunter & The Bear, The Temperance Movement and Texas
Today feels different. So far TRNSMT has been a scaled down T in the Park transposed to an urban setting. Booking Queen then building the entire bill around them feels like the start of forging a new identity. Something they can build on in the future for a more diverse festival, each day appealing to a specific crowd.
The Amorettes (★★★★☆) kick things off in loud raucous style on the King Tut's Stage. An all girl metal / hard rock trio favouring fat chugging riffs and old school foot on the monitor action.
If you put The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker and Oasis in a blender you'd get something like The Temperance Movement (★★★★☆) opening the main stage. It doesn't reinvent the wheel but their blues rock bluster is brought to life by hyperactive frontman Phil Campbell, elevating their material in a live setting as he struts, flaps and hurtles round the stage, boasting some genuinely funny banter while dressed in an outlandish fringed kaftan (from 'Benidorm market').
It starts quiet but the crowd builds through Electric Pyramid's (★★★☆☆) set of grizzly glam stompers, as reflected in their cover of '20th Century Boy'. Then Tut's turns into a showcase of Scottish rock. Glaswegians Mason Hill (★★★★☆) are more metallic, bursting with energy and power, 'Against the Wall' is a solid belter. Hunter & The Bear's (★★★☆☆) widescreen choruses are more indie orientated (and apparently Brian May is a fan) while The Xcerts (★★★★☆) occupy the same thoughtful pop punk territory as Jimmy Eat World. Sadly old school rockers Gun (★★☆☆☆) never quite recover from technical gremlins that mar the start of their set.
Despite drawing a huge crowd Texas (★★☆☆☆) feel slightly out of place on today's rock lineup. It's easy to forget how many hits they've had ('Summer Son', 'Black Eyed Boy', 'I Don't Want a Lover', 'Say What You Want', etc) but this is music built for supermarket checkouts and commercial radio drivetime. Bonus point for a great gag about Sharleen Spiteri's daughter's accent and ending with an Elvis classic ('Suspicious Minds').
Queen + Adam Lambert (★★★★★) make other bands look lazy. The hit rate is phenomenal. Ridiculously overblown rock classics pretty much from start to finish. Keeping it old school with opener 'Seven Seas of Rhye' then come 'Play the Game', 'Fat Bottomed Girls', 'Killer Queen', 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'Bicycle Race' in quick succession. It's exciting, exhilarating and infectious, these are anthems built for stadiums and festivals. Big life affirming celebrations of excess and rock grandeur, matched by a huge theatrical production with lazers, smoke, giant robots, disco balls, hydraulic platforms and a pink tricycle.
For such an astounding, technical guitarist, Brian May always looks so calm and composed as he reels off classic riffs and glorious solos. Adam Lambert knows how to work a crowd, it's cheeky, funny and a little bit saucy but his voice is outstanding. Crisp, clear and powerful it's exactly what's needed to bring such massive tunes to life. There will always be pedantic purists who whinge about lineup changes and authenticity but Queen openly acknowledge this is a new chapter. Everyone misses Freddie Mercury and there are tributes and video footage throughout the show. What's great about Lambert is that he never tries to impersonate Freddie but there's something about his performance that captures his spirit, flamboyance and showmanship. Roger Taylor also gets his time in the spotlight as a drum kit pops up at the end of the runway for a drum battle and to share vocals on 'Under Pressure'.
May takes centre stage for a 10 minute guitar solo before 'The Show Must Go On', 'Radio Ga Ga' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' ended their main set in truly epic style. The encore of 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions', with its handclaps and huge singalong choruses, surely reverberated through the tower blocks that dominate the skyline across the Clyde, the majesty of rock writ large across Glasgow Green.
Queen + Adam Lambert setlist
'Seven Seas of Rhye'
'Tie Your Mother Down'
'Play the Game'
'Fat Bottomed Girls'
'Don't Stop Me Now'
'I'm in Love With My Car'
'Another One Bites the Dust'
'I Want It All'
'Love of My Life'
'Somebody to Love'
'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'
'I Want to Break Free'
'Who Wants to Live Forever'
'The Show Must Go On'
'Radio Ga Ga'
'We Will Rock You'
'We Are the Champions'