Monday, June 28, 2010

Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and the Glam Nation Tour 2010

For those of you who don’t keep up with American popular culture, let me preface this with a little explanation of who Adam Lambert is. He came to America’s attention during season 8 American Idol, where he won our hearts with his flamboyant performances and killer vocal chops. America actually doesn’t produce that many rock stars any more – we prefer our musicians to stand around and at least pretend to be able to play an instrument. Adam Lambert is more interested in thrusting his pelvis in your face than in badly strumming a guitar or pretending to write his own songs and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the year since he came in second place on
American Idol, Adam has expanded on his public persona and released his first album. I’m going to be honest and say that his album is a mixed bag. It plays like there was a different producer for every song, which is pretty much the case, and wanders from dance-pop to ballad to power-pop without much flow. I was kind of worried that the stage show would have the same MPD feel but those fears proved to be unfounded – the Glam Nation Tour is a seamless presentation of Adam’s best songs unified by his firm sense of style and showmanship, and not a little help from his music director Monte Pittman.

But I’ll get to that in a bit.



(Adam and Allison -
Allison's Official Site.)

There are two opening acts on the Glam Nation Tour. Up first was
American Idol season 8 fourth place finisher Allison Iraheta. I saw Allison last year during the Idol tour and while I enjoyed her set it didn’t leave a lasting impression. Well, she has grown a lot in the last year. Backed by a fantastic band (including Valerie Franco on drums, David Immerman on guitar, an awesome woman on bass whose name I couldn’t figure out, and a cute blond guy on keys that my sister and I kept joking was exactly Adam’s type), Allison performed an upbeat and high-energy set of incredibly catchy pop-rock. (You can check out her debut single here. It’s produced by Max Martin, naturally!)

Allison owned the stage. Dressed in a black dress, black, patterned stockings, black legwarmers, and a pair of glittery wedges, she was magnetic! Allison also owned her songs. She had clearly worked hard since the album came out to rid her songs of any trace of a sterile studio taint. And that is no small accomplishment. Just think of Xtina’s latest outing, no matter how nicely Xtina sings, there is always the whiff of manufactured pop around her. Lots of pretty girls can sing but only a handful have what it takes to become a real star and I think Allison might just make it.

Almost anything would have disappointing after Allison’s performance but Orianthi was a real let down. She is an amazing guitarist but seriously lacking in both charisma and in musical taste. Orianthi played a technically good set of very mundane rock music. My sister and I ended up dividing our attention between the drunk woman arguing with a bouncer to our left (she was eventually kicked out) and Orianthi’s back-up guitarist Brian Chiusano attempting to flirt with the 17-year old girl standing to our right. (And to be fair, she was pretty smoking for a 17-year old).



(Picture from
Adam's Official Site).

And then it was time for the main event – and it was well worth the wait! Adam, his band, and his dancers made their appearance to “For Your Entertainment” and then launched right into the set which included both cuts from
For Your Entertainment and classics from American Idol. Adam very obviously loves performing live. He strutted through “Strut,” sexed up his dancers in “Fever,” and crooned like an angel for “Whataya Want from Me.” He mostly kept his emotions in line with the songs he was singing but every now and then I would catch this giant grin on his face that made my heart melt. How can you not get swept up with somebody so enthusiastic and earnest?

Like I mentioned before, the disjointed feel of the album was nowhere to be found. I think we can thank Monte Pittman for helping to create a unified musical feel for the show - very rock but a rich 70s style rock and not the achingly dull, drab rock of the 90s and 00s (you know the kind I mean - where it sounds like they cut out all the high frequencies.) "Strut" popped on stage, the flabby "Surefire Winners" was booted into life, and "Sleepwalker" was given a real epic quality missing from the tinny studio version. The Gaga-produced "Fever" (one of my favorite tracks on the album) was also given a different, more organic feel. I'm really optimistic about Adam's second album and I hope he does more of this organic 70s rock style (a la "Music Again") instead of the dancey pop that was emphasized for the singles on his first album.

Except for Orianthi, the whole evening was blissfully free of irony and pretension. Adam Lambert is a performer and he is going to give you a show, whether you like it or not. You just know that if he hadn’t been on
Idol, he would doing the exact same thing on a smaller budget and to smaller crowds. With every pelvis thrust, every flash of his blue-green eyes, every sky-high note, Adam puts himself out there for the crowd – for our entertainment.

And just one more note, Adam Lambert is gay. Which means, it made me so happy to see how diverse the crowd was. There were older people, younger people, black people, white people, disabled people, middle-class people, and lower class people. And nobody had a problem with the fact that he was overtly sexual. (And also seemed to have a crush on his bass player but that is another story.) America is very skittish about any kind of sexuality other than the vanilla missionary-style hetero variety, and I’m glad we can get over it enough to embrace the very gay, very sexual, very amazing Adam Lambert.

2 comments:

Agata said...

great review :) thanks :)

Filmi Girl said...

@Agata Thank you! It was a nice show!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl