Show review published March 13, 2016. Written by @noskerdycat
Table of Contents
Intro: Day One Fan
Flash back six + years ago, on January 20th 2009, my switch was flipped to ON position when I laid eyes upon the most amazing vocalist on the planet. I honestly believe I was pre-wired at birth to respond viscerally to the voice and visuals of Adam Lambert.
As I watched Adam enter the spotlight during Idol auditions and he uttered the words “I’m not skerd” in response to Randy Jackson’s statement, my fan name and twitter handle was born as ‘noskerdycat’.
While Adam sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the Idol audition episode, I analyzed this unadorned version ( no makeup, no nail polish ) and without hesitation I exclaimed to myself “Wow! What a peacock!”
Little did I know this extraordinary being would be singing like an angel and flashing his incredible peacock plumage and I would be drawn into the mesmerizing and addicting world of being an Adam Lambert fan.
Primping For Adam
Return to the present: Nashville, TN on March 10th 2016 and it is pouring down rain including the usual cats and dogs along with their puppies and kittens and the electricity has just gone out at the hotel and my newly trimmed and tinted pink hair is out-of-the-shower soaking wet and needs the dryer and flat iron desperately.
Yikes, I thought; even if the power comes back and I can complete my simple coif, the rain outside will ultimately take its toll by reducing all intended beautification plans to a flat matte mess. This fleeting moment of vanity distress was totally induced by my excitement of being part of the photo op meet and greet (M&G) before the show and my wild hope that I could photogenically measure up to 1/10th of the hot gorgeousness of Adam standing beside me.
But then I came to my senses when my roommate reminded me that mere mortals cannot attain that level of ‘Adam’ beauty. I decided the best thing to do was just shake off that whole notion of competing with perfection and plan on having fun no matter what I looked like.
OK, power back on, hair dry, makeup applied
and off to the concert in the pouring rain encountering arduous traffic snags and uncertain of a parking spot. Having attended a fan dinner the night before, I was well aware of the SEC playoffs and “The Phantom of the Opera” causing gridlock and blocking access to certain streets. Tonight seemed worse though. Amazingly, the rain let up, the parking garage was opened to the public as I drove in, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and shed some anxiety
I waited 5 years for this M&G. It was a prize I won through the fan club in 2011 for creating a redesigned Charity Water t-shirt.
GroundCtrl. who runs the fan site, refused to award the prize for any of Adam’s performances since the date of the contest. I fought an intense battle with GroundCtrl and they claimed no obligation to award any prize other than an Adam postcard so I rejected the postcard substitute, dissed them on the Better Business Bureau and I finally gave up.
When I snagged a ticket to a performance of the USA leg of Adam’s The Original High tour (TOH), the seeds of tenacity and Adam style positivity sprouted again and I called Wonderful Union (the ‘newly’ hatched version of Ground/Ctrl) and tried one more time.
To my great surprise, the customer service representative handled the whole thing thoughtfully and from what I understand both winners of the contest in 2011
were awarded the VIP upgrades as promised. There may very well have been some divine help given in the background by terrestrial angels that moved the ‘arsses’ of the fan club administrators, but that is left to speculation. This fan bows to and thanks the powers of whoever or whatever assisted.
A few nerves were still present when I stepped into queue at the will call office to pickup my ticket, but I opened the envelope and had to suppress any urge to openly display a huge Tennessee hallelujah hooten-anny WOOT! when I saw some typed instructions and two VIP sticky passes (with Adam’s handsome face) printed on a satin material.
Turns out the M&Gs for contest winners, and those who are otherwise ‘connected’ were subset into a different group and verified by Warner Bros. representatives who placed us at the end of the purchased VIP M&G line.
After observing the social media posts of fans who attended earlier concerts, The Original High Tour M&Gs have been lovingly named ‘drive by shootings’ by one fan on Facebook and I believe that is pretty much on point.
Be prepared to move quick, and by the way; don’t jump on (err….mount) or grab Adam, don’t do this, don’t do that. Basically, you have under a minute to utter something coherent and remember to smile your best and not blink when the camera flashes. I practiced in my mind what to say. I didn’t exactly rehearse, but that’s not a bad idea.
Of course, Adam is a sweetheart and when you walk into the small room he outstretches his arm to bring you by his side for the picture. I said “Hi Adam!” I took a deep breath and thought….so far, so good.
After the snap shot, I said: “For tonight’s performance, please feel free to step out of the box.” Adam looked surprised. His back straightened up, his head tilted and he said with a bit of a raised voice “BOX! WHAT BOX?”
I kept a smile on my face and didn’t say anything. Really, I didn’t know what to say because I had not anticipated his response. From there I reached out to shake his hand and said “Thank you Adam.” As I was walking away he called out with a touch of defiance and proclaimed “I’M ALREADY OUT OF THE BOX!”
The whole thing made me giggle and I don’t giggle.
My hope, with the ‘outta-box’ request was to inspire just one more glory note, or playful vocal run, or hip thrust, or sexy undulation. I mean, after all I am honoring the official tour theme of “chasing the original high” and for me that original high is Adam’s GlamNation Tour circa 2010 which included in-your-face, lace up crotch leather pants, insane vocal displays and no nonsense overt sexuality.
For this TOH tour era, fans are forced to use their imaginations as Adam gyrates in geometric cut man tunics or yards of baggy camo graffiti fabric where he only manages to grab the crotch seam instead of actually securing the ‘goods’ underneath.
And those gyrations are barely conveyed through the over sized designer sack clothes. For TOH we only sense opaque visual clues instead of the svelte snaking contours he defined with ease in eye popping performances of “Fever”
and “Whole Lotta Love”
during the GlamNation tour. (videos)
65 or 85 Anxiety
For me personally there was one more nervous hurdle and question in the back of my mind. Will Adam perform the 65 min or the 85 minute show?
After participating in a few pre-concert lengthy and somewhat heated fan discussions on facebook and observing the twitterverse’s take on the whys and why nots of Adam cutting 6+ songs from some USA shows, the unequivocal bottom line for me was that I wanted each performance of the TOH tour to be as represented by the first 20 shows and by fairness only reflect a few song variations, not a huge time cut.
As I listened to the audio streams and watched videos of each show, it was becoming clear as the performance dates passed; the big ballad of “There I Said It” was off the menu for the USA tour dates. A few USA dates included the addition of “These Boys” merged with the band intros and that was an upbeat and energized treat, but alas, “These Boys” also disappeared from the set list. Adam premiered a thoroughly enjoyable, vocal centric one-off of “Things I Didn’t Say” at the first USA show at the Paramount, but that too, as of this writing, has apparently been shelved.
Prior to leaving for Nashville, I struggled to reinforced my spirit with infusions of positive non-entitled thoughts, but honestly my fears were just below the surface and the mere idea that the show I purchased tickets to was a crap shoot and may have 20 minutes less performance time was heartbreaking to me, especially since a song favorite of mine called “Runnin” was only part of the longer show window.
In an attempt to quietly manifest the longer performance; 48 hours before the show I prepared my camera to take 90 minutes of video by setting up with a robust memory card, I packed 2 fully charged batteries and I put the idea of a short show to rest and mostly out of mind.
Pre Show and Show Review Part 1
Alex Newell’s opening act effectively warmed up the audience and was vocally sound and entertaining. The portion of Alex’s show I was able hear was very enjoyable.
Afterwards, there was approximately a 45 minute wait for Adam. The theater was filled with the electric energy that is present at every Adam Lambert concert. The happiness is palpable; the anticipation steals your breath away and the interaction of fans hugging, meeting, reconnecting and snapping pics moved the whole of the Ryman auditorium spirit into a higher vibration.
The Nashville audience from my immediate viewpoint was filled with seasoned female fans that likely witnessed Adam’s initiation through the ranks of American Idol. Sprinkled here and there were young preteens with moms and grand moms, couples, t-shirted Queen+Adam era fans, and a mix of other ages that Adam would probably remind us not to impose labels on. (video)
I believe that one of the best compliments Adam gets in the press and on social media is when a reviewer, or fair weather fan, or a new fan describes Adam’s audience as remarkably diverse. That, in my opinion, is a testament to Adam’s message of embracing each other as humankind and that music connects us despite our differences.
My seat view of the stage is good. The people in front of me are not too tall and I am ready to shoot video and ready to ignore security reprimands and ear pinching for breaking the rules. An experienced Adam fan to the left of me signals that she may be hugging my side because of the tall attractive blond woman directly in front of her blocking her view; I acknowledge that’s just fine; I’ve been in that situation too.
The pre show music “Better Than I Know Myself”
alerts us the start of the show is imminent. Soon, the lights go down, starlight twinkles and the stage visuals, white light and drum beats start to flash that adored four letter word A-D-A-M. The crowd cheers bump higher as the graphic banners display iconic silhouettes of Adam. In seconds the real man himself emerges on a platform with a burst of fog and power vocals singing “Evil In the Night”
. The house is now fully engaged as Adam next belts out the lyrics “I’m here for your entertainment.”
When Adam sings “Do you like what you see?”
the audience screams in affirmation. There is no song that can lyrically describe an Adam Lambert concert better than “For Your Entertainment”
– those words speak the truth: “Hold on until it’s over!” (video)
Adam’s signature first single off “The Original High” album is next up on the set list. The lighting shifts to a luminescent blue mood befitting the eerie whistling that permeates the “Ghost Town”
melody and the choreography is a mockup of oblique angled architectural movements and quirky almost sinister facial expressions that ironically adds a fearless and rather comical entertainment value. And, this is only the beginning of Adams distinctive blend
of theatrical tones running through every vocal delivered. (video)
After “Ghost Town” I was holding my breath hoping to hear those first thumps of the drums….. WOW! There they were! Then seconds later the audience was treated to that fabulous low register shift in Adams voice singing “Steel to my trembling lips…,” the opening lyric of “Runnin”.
Every part of my body was rejoicing knowing this show wasn’t going to end for another awe inspiring 60 minutes. “Runnin” escalates from Adam’s low register and stair steps up the scale climaxing with a tasty glory note. The medley slides like butter into a sultry version of “Chokehold” where some microphone caressing and stealth hip movements trip the imagination into sensual song meanings.
emerges through a slightly dissonant mashup of musical layers and quickly tries to target the level of super intensity performed during the GlamNation tour. It’s not quite a bullseye on supporting theatrics, but strong on vocals and as a bonus, we get our first succulent appetizer solo from lead guitarist Adam Ross. (video)
This medley is a defining milestone in the tour set and showcases Adam’s incredible yet underrated catalog of music.
Following only the slightest pause, Adam enters into deep ambiance with the song “Underground”
supported by his dancers as backup vocalists and visual shards of neon-esque sapphire and ruby lighting effects. “Rumors”
successfully follows the moody angst and vocally sways back and forth through opposing cadence then culminates with Adam’s characteristic melodrama. (video)
Banter 1 and the Dancing Amazon
The lights go down and then up and Adam begins
his welcome patter to the sheer delight and smiles of all. He says “Hi” to a cute little pre-teen Glambert
in the balcony center.
He compliments the southern audiences on their enthusiasm and sweet colloquialisms and does a cursory check on the statistics of who was there six years ago and who is having their cherry popped for the first time tonight.
He points to a dedicated Glambert in front of me and says, “Thank you for coming back. I appreciate it!”
Wow! what a priceless moment for her! (video)
While the lights were up I filmed the audience enthusiasm. The tall woman in front of my neighbor had morphed into this 20 inch taller amazon-like being because she was standing on the wood pew benches installed at the Ryman. This ultra enthusiastic fan had mastered the art of the finger whistle the likes of which could put any ego driven male ogler to shame and after 25 minutes into the show she was not just tipsy but ‘tighter than a boiled owl’, so to speak.
I am convinced ‘tall woman’ is a descendant of the multi-arm Shiva because her personal space flailed out in all cardinal directions and essentially destroyed my peripheral attempts at video steadiness and decimated any reasonable view for those behind her while she danced like a well oiled loon.
It seemed to me quite improbable for Adam to overlook this conspicuously dedicated fan as she was not to be missed, but just possibly, I would like to believe and trust that Adam’s theater instincts kept him from acknowledging her so as not to encourage her undisguised disrespect for those around her.
NOTE: Later in the show after some possible tears and and an honest exchange of rude facts, amazon woman helped the lady behind her (beside me) over the back of the pew and into her row so now, standing side by side, my neighbor could see a few remaining songs without obstruction.
Show Review Part 2
After the welcoming chat Adam segues into his mainstream hit song “Whataya Want From Me” and for the upteenth time, times 100, he belts out the chart topper and delivers a heart-felt first class performance against a visual back drop of shattering glass.
The audience did not disappoint or miss a beat as they launched the traditional screams of reinforcement as he sang, “Thanks for loving me, cuz you’re doing it perfectly.”
The featured rock infused song “Lucy”
followed next. Adam applied an authoritarian tone throughout the lyrics while telling a sad story. The performance was a theatrical combination of vocals, dramatic stage lighting and the raw and compelling body language of dancer Holly Hyman playing the role of Lucy. (video)
Adam concludes the studded rock song with a bone rattling vocal ending and leaves the stage to be filled with Adam Ross’s exceptional guitar solo that has everyone applauding wildly with appreciation for his skill set. The song adeptly fades and rolls into the flirty and playful beat of “After Hours.”
Adam returns to the stage sporting his first costume change shedding the glitter astronaut boots and designer pop up tent for a lounge worthy sexy crooner suit surfaced in a reticulated pink and gray snake skin pattern with contrasting ebony lapels and silky open button shirt.
His low register vocal opens the song and moves into the velvety crafted lyrics and then oozes out a short run of sexy scatting coos and vocal embellishments.
Later, after a few understated hip pulses and a couple of soft finger snaps, the audience hears the familiar notes of Adams iconic and pivotal Idol performance song “Mad World.”
Adam delivers within the zone of ever present and amazing perfection as the crowd joins in singing the lyrics and a captivating moment down memory lane is now complete.
Banter Two and Show Review Part 3
Lights on again and Adam takes to an imaginary pulpit
to ‘preach’ his message of sameness within our hearts despite our outward differences and the joy of connecting through music. From there the pace somewhat logically leads into a festival of swirling and criss crossing spotlights while Adam delivers “Another Lonely Night”
with full throttle vocals and not one microsecond out of character. (video)
The musical ride continues to leap into a new level of entertainment with a short dance to a trippy keyboarding interlude allowing Terrance Spencer to showoff his agile moves and articulate body configuration. There is truly no chance to go pee, or get a drink at this concert without missing a serious slice of entertainment. Tweeters… I don’t know how you do it; I can’t take my eyes off the stage… errrr Adam.
Adam completes his second costume change and opts into what looks like double X size army surplus resourced camouflage confusion ensemble including a jacket that got run over by an all terrain vehicle with RED paint on its tires and yet somehow manage to spell out the word WHITE across the back, and pants that got tangled in some galactic style knee length suspenders made of holographic crime scene tape.
Adam arrives on the platform to sing “The Light” and engages the audience in the chorus “I am the fire, you are the rain, washing me out to drown the pain.” It’s at this point that Adam’s dancing dials it up a notch and the coordinated flourishes of the Lambert ‘dorkstep’ are born.
He belts out the album title song “The Original High”
and follows succinctly into “Never Close Our Eyes”
while appearing effortless when delivering those explosive glory notes that emote cheers of gratification from the audience as they drink the koolaid and ask for more. (video)
Crank that engine and pump it full of high octane as Adam revives the “Let’s Dance” part of his original Idol tour tribute to David Bowie with a 2016 version brush stroked with a splash of diva infused hand, eye, tongue, hip and foot movement.
No hiding the obvious… Adam’s happiness while performing is infectious! (video)
The last medley on the set list is drenched in colorful light and graphics and pulls together “Lay Me Down”
an Avici EDM success, “Shady”
a “Trespassing” album favorite that featured Nile Rogers on guitar, and the Gaga penned song “Fever”
into a perfectly integrated three-way crazy train of Adams tireless and impeccable vocals, hot spiced with elastic and eccentric ‘dorkstep’ dance moves, playful facial expressions and amusing backup support that framed the main artwork of Adam himself. The ending is not to be missed so check out the videos of everyone having ‘Fah, Feh, Fuh FUN!’ (video)
In the energetic spirit of the original radio supported hit from Adam’s first album “If I Had You” brings back shades of GlamNation 2010. The presentation is reinvigorated with Adam’s sassy Original High style and ends the show with the proper momentum. (This fan is relieved the laid back reggae version of IIHY has been tucked away in the archives.)
Just minutes after some foot stomping and pew banging the cheers of the crowd are satiated once more with the gutsy fast paced “Trespassing” with its irreverent lyrics and challenging clap sequence. Adam seems to amuse himself as the beat breaks down into a quasi spontaneous adlib call and return throughout the band/dancer intros including:
On keyboards and musical director: Peter Dyre
Lead guitar: Adam Ross
On bass: Darwin Johnson
And on drums: Brook Alexander
Dancer and singer: Holly Hyman
Dancer and singer: Terrance Spencer
A short sidestep into “Another One Bites the Dust”
pays tribute to Adam’s collaboration with Queen as their lead singer and then a fast fix back into a “Trespassing”
finale: “Wait till ya get a load of me!”
The audience roars and Adam leaves the stage. (video)
BAM! its over.
My brain is numb. I believe the Brits call that gobsmacked.
My feet are sore from hours of standing and security is asking me to come to my senses and leave the theater.
It takes a minute for me to comply.
The sudden lack of music creates a weird feeling of being in some sort of empty between dimension, but those edges slowly fade and reveal the chatter of happy fans who are already reminiscing about tonight’s show and planning when they will see Adam again.
If ever there was an artist that brings pure bliss to his fans, Adam Lambert certainly fulfills that dynamic for me and I am so happy to be alive to experience his talents first hand.
I personally thank the Universe for his existence everyday.