Queen first band to play Bristol’s YTL Arena as rock legends descend for secret gig

It’s not ‘just fantasy’ - Queen played a secret gig in Bristol this week

Queen became the first band to play Bristol’s YTL Arena as they descended on the venue’s future home for a secret gig.

Joined by Adam Lambert, the rock legends performed several of their best-known songs to an invited audience of 100 lucky individuals on Monday (May 23).

The gig took place 45 years to the day since Queen performed at Bristol Hippodrome and marked a huge step forward in Brabazon Hangars’ journey becoming a top-five global music venue.

Queen + Adam Lambert rehearsed the seta t the Brabazon Hangars over five days in preparation for their upcoming Rhapsody Tour, which kicks off this Friday (May 27) before heading to Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, London and across Europe.

It is hoped that YTL Arena will offer a vast rehearsal and performance space to major touring acts in the future.

Queen + Adam Lambert said they would have been ‘delighted’ to perform a Bristol show as part of the Rhapsody Tour had the venue been fully operational.

Adam Lambert and Brian May of Queen perform onstage at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival: Power The Movement in Central Park in New York in 2019. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP).

The band said: “We’ve been made to feel very welcome by YTL, and the Rhapsody Tour would have loved the opportunity to include a Bristol show if this fantastic venue was open.

“Hopefully we can come back and play here again, to a packed house, when YTL Arena Bristol is ready to welcome the public.”

In 2019, Bristol trip hop group Massive Attack performed at a custom-built arena on the neighbouring former Filton Airfield.

But this was the first, and only time, that such a huge band has played inside the Brabazon Hangars as they are today.

The band placed personal items into a time capsule that will be built into a glazed Walk of Fame running 100 metres across the event floor, from stage to Runway Bar at the opposite end of the building, to mark the occasion.

CEO of YTL Arena Bristol, Andrew Billingham, said: “It has been a privilege to host Queen + Adam Lambert as they chose Bristol to complete full production rehearsals in a five-day residency at the Brabazon Hangars.

“We are honoured that Brian, Roger and Adam wanted to play their part in our story.

“Over the past week we have accommodated one of the largest touring productions with ease.

“With 40 artic lorries parking on site and more than 200 production crew in attendance, everybody has said what a fantastic venue the new Arena will be and predicts it will become one of the busiest.”

With a capacity of 17,000, the YTL Arena is set be the fourth largest in the UK and the first in the South West.

Planning permission to repurpose the Brabazon Hangars, which once housed Concorde, was granted to YTL Developments in April 2020.

The project ‘continues to make good progress’, developers say, and is scheduled to open in 2024.