THURSDAY

Freddie Mercury was the ultimate rock ’n’ roll seducer—and not just ’cause he was the only one who could pull off the tiara/no-shirt/floor-length-robe look. What gave him game was the power and sincerity of his emotions. He’d belt out songs about ogres battling fairies with the same earnestness that Springsteen might use to chronicle a dockworkers’ strike. Yep, it was Queen’s bombast and theatricality that appealed to my adolescent mind. So when a Baptist preacher encouraged the 11-year-old me to burn the group’s records because they extolled the virtues of drugs, rebellion, and Satan, I could only bring myself to singe my copy of the Flash Gordon soundtrack. And I got that far only because, hey, I finally had an excuse to light something on fire in the backyard. If Queen hasn’t quite risen from the ashes nearly 15 years after Mercury’s death, it’s probably because it’s hard for any true fan to imagine the band without him. Thankfully, the band agrees: Though it’s currently touring with Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers on lead vocals, the lineup is dubbed “Queen + Paul Rodgers.” A top-five guitar-rock god, ax-man Brian May deserves the chance to showcase his immense talents for the fans. But don’t be surprised if when Rodgers sings the Bad Company chorus “I feel like making love to you,” the audience isn’t seduced. Rodgers isn’t bad—he’s just not the king. Do the fandango at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at the newly christened Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. $38–$128. (202) 397-7328. (David Dunlap Jr.)