Adam Lambert Put the Tilt in the Kilt
Glasgow 14 January 2015
A challenge for us, but imagine you had never heard Adam Lambert sing or seen him perform. The only details you knew about him: he came in second on an American TV talent show, not sure which one, he’s gay and likes to wear eyeliner. And he screams. He’s not Freddie but might be George Michael or is it Boy George? You have not read or heard Brian and Roger wax poetic about him. His fans are devoted and crazy. Why? What sorcerer this? What’s a GFG?
You are a Queen fan who worships Freddie, who believes Brian and Roger are dreaming if they think whoever-this-Adam-guy is can replace him, but you like Queen’s music well enough to buy a ticket for a show, hold your breath, maybe down a couple of drinks and pray you’re not disappointed. Ho hum, at least the music will be good if Bri and Rog can still play, even if that guy doesn’t manage it and really, how bad could he be? It’s Queen!
The harder, intensely rock sound of One Vision gives Brian a chance to open with a flourish and Adam to show his biker dude sexy rocker side – which non-fans will not have seen, but it’s their first view of Adam from behind – swivelly hips in tight leathers and all! The applause starts with “Fried Chicken” and Adam flaps his arms – “hey, this guy doesn’t take himself too seriously. We can sit back, relax and enjoy!” Just when we relax, Brian’s fingers take off and Adam falls to his knees in a back-bend of worship sending both into glorious delirium. Stage set.
Much as we loved “Now I’m Here” with Adam’s gigantic image flashed on the big screens around the arena, One Vision works so perfectly, an anthem for unity. The lyrics in the second part when Adam is standing up high, behind Roger “I had a dream when I was young…..Give me your hands, give me your hearts, I’m ready” A few lyrics prophetically written decades ago as a message for Adam to deliver today.
“No hate, no fight, just excitation, All through the night, it’s a celebration!” The game is about to begin and we are all on the same team. No ‘us’, no ‘them’. Adam wrapped up the message and delivered it with a great big studded shiny bow on top. And a Cheshire Cat grin, and supplicant at Brian’s feet. Music, lyrics, staging, performance aligned and produced magic. Gottcha!
I had a dream when I was young,
A dream of sweet illusion,
A glimpse of hope and unity,
And visions of one sweet union.
But a cold wind blows,
And a dark rain falls,
And in my heart it shows.
Look what they’ve done to my dream, yeah.
So give me your hands,
Give me your hearts.
There’s only one direction.
One world, one nation,
Yeah, one vision.
No hate, no fight,
All through the night,
It’s a celebration, wowowowo, yeah.
Adam now enters arenas with a swaggery confidence we haven’t seen in some time. He’s back! As fine as we saw him perform over here last year, he’s dropped any inhibitions and flings all of himself, mind, body and soul into his performance. As an extrovert, he draws his energy from the crowd but he is just a rainbow of radiance these days. We know there is no place he would rather be than entertaining, astounding and flirting with an audience.
This can be shocking, overwhelming even, if you’re not expecting it. There is no immunity, no vaccine to prevent the fever once you’ve made the connection. Again, imagine this show is your first time.
His attention to detail in grooming and costumes, pays off in a huge way. It shows his respect for the audience and his art. Who looks better close-up on that massive oval screen than Adam does? Hearts soar.
The rock celebration continues….no time to think or rest. With breathtaking, thumping energy the audience is whisked and whipped into rock nirvana with this opening set, all the way to Killer Queen. It’s exhilarating, like running through the river, jumping from rock to rock, trying not to slip, stumble and get caught in the eddies.
Stone Cold Crazy
Fast and furious, Adam manages to get all those words out! Obviously moved by Brian’s guitar work, he sways and punches – adrenalin releasers.
Another One bites the Dust
Treated to Adam’s sexy club boy dancing! Dances like no one is watching.
Fat Bottomed Girls
Lap of the Gods
How can you help but smile along with his wide open arms and the harmonies?
Seven Seas of Rhye
The irresistible charms of the Killer Queen! Witty, sassy, flagrantly flirty! Front row, back row, Brian, anyone in the room is on the Queen’s radar. Resistance is futile when she arrives and shares her naughty bits. Adam gets to display his talent for operetta – reminds us of his solo in Hair. (how’s that for obscure?)
Hold on! Rock is not supposed to be like this. Rock is earnest, angry, message-driven, staccato, not smooth and sinewy and above all – it is not FUN or funny! This is serious business, you can see it on the faces of the older rockers with their frowning, constipated expressions, no wonder they look like this
– but not Roger and Brian, both of whom have drunk from the Fountain of Youth as have we all.
But it should be engaging and fun is a big part of a great show. Freddie knew that, Adam knows it too. It’s what set them apart from the rest of the grumpy young men who turned into grizzled old dudes. Adam’s performance style owes more to musical theatre, R&B and pop, than rock, but that’s the secret formula isn’t it? Lead singer yes, but not alone out front with the rest of the band in the shadows. How many of us can see Zodiac show in there? But no dancing girls or boys. not needed.
This is not a concert, it’s an intimate party with laughter, giggles, silliness and it’s infectious! We are included in the jokes, the asides. Wish a camera could follow them backstage after the show. “Did you see that? They pinched me!” “What were you thinking Adam, when you grabbed my hand while I was still playing?!” “Rufus, I collected some phone numbers and panties for you or is that panties with phone numbers” “Great balls of fire Adam? really?”
I Want to Break Free
Every song resonates with an authentic message that Adam’s delivers as though it were his own. They are now.
Don’t Stop Me Now
Dear friends, this is what a SHOWMAN looks and sounds like! Effortlessly note-perfect, expressive and fun!! He is so endearing, he always looks as though singing and performing for an audience – for us- is his raison d’être, and this is the kind of performer who becomes a legend. Funny and self-deprecating “did I just sing that note?”
If it’s possible to have too much fun on stage, the “mic incident” might be that moment, only because he broke himself up! Not much raunchy in this show, just enough for a few dropped jaws and we know Adam is capable of more, but he now knows what we always did. It’s unnecessary to his performance – especially if it stops the flow of the performance. He has the adrenalin under control and uses it to enhance his performance – it sparks out from his finger tips, shoulder shrugs and thousand-watt smile, the little steps he takes and the eyebrow lifts.
Somebody to Love
Shocking! Combining his vocal acrobatics with wicked wit, the audience is stunned and thrilled, laughing along with him as he plays with the notes and the fringes. This is one of those ‘how the hell did he do that?” moments. By the end, he’s one hot mess, shoulders falling off, fringes flying, preening and Brian is laughing.
For Glamberts, a flashback to the Upright Café and those incredibly moving and emotional ballads but never crossing that line to melodrama or pathos. For any new audience, it’s probably a side they were not expecting. This is the type of song that pulls us into him, an emotional and spiritual connection with a voice so perfectly suited to the mood and the notes. We just want to hug him.
Who Wants to Live Forever
Ideal follow-up to Save Me. He takes that ballad and moves it up the emotional ladder a couple of steps with some glorious notes and that spectacular ending under the mirror ball, lasers radiating. A pin could drop.
One of my favourites! Check out Rufus – time of his life! Great example of Adam bringing all the players together. Tie Your Mother Down!
I Want it All
With Radio Gaga, Adam is literally connecting with the audience! So confident that he won’t get whacked by a Freddie fan, Adam ventures where no sane man dare tread. There is the risk he will be kidnapped and held for ransom by the Scots, or smothered with kisses, but it’s a chance he takes and it works. Apparently a few ladies managed a pinch or two! If you listen without watching, he doesn’t miss a note, down the stairs, pinched cheeks, back up the stairs! flawless
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
“Love is Love” This is so FUN! It’s a party and we’re all invited. To a person, the audience sways, dances, claps. Best on-stage chemistry with Brian, Spike and our lovely Glambert friend who was twirled and kissed! Even Elvis made a brief appearance. Adam and Brian dancing and laughing makes me cry with joy for them, for us, for myself. At the end of the piano piece, listen for Adam’s comment to Spike “you’ve got Great Balls of Fire”. Bad boy. I think this might be my favourite performance for the sheer joie de vivre of it all. Heart’s all aflutter. Whimsical. Loveable.
“What do you think of the new man?”
Now we are sure anything can happen in that arena. Who knew Brian could be so playful and funny? Maybe it’s the kale juice.
The big one, the Grand Kahuna, the final exam, the acid test. All well and good up to now, but just wait til Freddie gets here, then we’ll know. But Adam has already reeled-in the audience and now he’ll take them home. They are thrilled to see and hear Freddie up on the screen, but still cheering for Adam as he sings a perfect and touching duet. You can close the shop now, the job is done.
Nothing left to do but bring down the house with the inevitable rousing anthems! We all know the words, the beat, the stomp and we are ready for battle! Unleash the pipes and drums!
We Will Rock You
Adam has taken us through an alphabet of emotions, from alpha to omega, and closes the show with humility, gestures of appreciation, elegance and grace.
We are the Champions
It’s over already? If this were an amusement park, we would all go line up for another ride on the QAL roller coaster! Actually I’ve already been around a dozen or more times – research of course.
Adam’s performance is so hot he melts the coldest sangfroid attitudes. He is talented, trained, toned and his act honed to perfection – he’s such a pro that he takes his natural abilities and enhances them with practice, study and perfectionism. That’s why he can have so much fun on stage with thousands of people watching and we are fully engaged – because he is.
TV is too small for this guy – he belongs on the arena stage. He fills it with big, rousing numbers, then brings it down to a single spotlight with a ballad sung acapella and you can’t take your eyes off him.
Finding something original to say has become a challenge now that each performance sees a multiple of rave reviews, analysis and blog posts! Used to be so easy when so few were writing.