+ have been gigging steadily over the past year with a setlist that rarely varies from night to night. But on Monday at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, they broke out ’s “Whole Lotta Love” midway through the show.
On past Queen and Lambert tours, the group has performed a handful of Lambert solo tunes, but this take on “Whole Lotta Love” is the only non-Queen song they’ve tackled this time out. They previously played it just once, February 17th, 2015 at the O2 Arena in Prague.
The song, however, did play a key role in the history of Queen’s partnership with Lambert. It was the song Lambert was singing on American Idol when keyboardist Spike Edney first came across him while watching TV with his wife.
“I went in to refill my martini and I just caught the last minute of him singing ‘Whole Lotta Love,'” Edney told Rolling Stone last year. “When he got to the very end I thought, ‘Here we go. Here’s where it counts.’ He sang the final cadence and just flew through it. It was effortless. I thought, ‘Wow. That takes some singing chops to be able to sing it with that kind of confidence.’ Then I Googled him and the first thing I saw was him singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” a cappella at his audition. I sent off an e-mail saying, ‘I found a live one.'”
It was the beginning of an incredible new saga in Queen’s history. Queen and Lambert have been packing houses since they first hit the road together in 2014, but the massive success of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody created a groundswell of interest in Queen, and they are selling more tickets than they have since the last tour with Freddie Mercury in 1986. “It’s interesting to look out and see people lustily singing along to every song that was in the movie,” Edney said, “and looking blankly during every song that wasn’t.”
Queen and Lambert are touring through July, including a 19-night stand at London’s 02 Arena.