While enjoying a delicious dinner at The Palm prior to attending Wednesday night’s Adam Lambert concert at The Ryman Auditorium with my favorite Nashville socialite and eternal party-girl Eleanor, we got on the subject of what sort of crowd might attend American Idol‘s most controversial runner-up.
We expected a bit of an alternative crowd, including of course, glam-rock fans, the occasional goth kid and club-kids. When we arrived at The Ryman, we were pleasantly surprised by the huge cross-section of attendees. Yes, members of the Glamnation were out in full force, as were the aforementioned goth and club kids, but so were the over 40, over 50 and yes, even a few over 60 fans, who no doubt were among those who’d rather have seen Adam as the title-holder of last year’s American Idol, as opposed to white-bred snoozer Kris Allen. Given Adam‘s brave and unapologetic stance on sexuality, we were also pleasantly surprised to see not only a mix in age-ranges, but a coming together of fans from all walks of life, all races, sexual preferences and social standings, ready for a night of great music. Even Nashville’s favorite former Idol contender-turned country music darling,Kellie Pickler was in the audience, accompanied by one of Nashville’s most prolific songwriters, Aimee Mayo, who penned Adam‘s song Sleepwalker. I’ve known both of these ladies professionally for a few years, having first met Aimee when I was working Tim and Faith, who have both recorded her songs. I met Kellie during her time with Idol and have had the pleasure of running into her from time to time here in Music City. I have to say, I was so impressed with Kellie last night. She and pal Aimee were simply there like everyone else, just looking forward to a night of fun, and while the Ryman staff tried their best to get them to their seats without much fuss,Kellie graciously posed for photos with excited fans while making her way to her seats.
Also surprising was how much Adam‘s first opening act, fellow former Idol season 8’er, Allison Iraheta had grown as an artist since her time on American Idol. She’s always possessed a richly-toned rocker-chick voice, but she looked amazing and had fantastic stage presence. She really worked the entirety of the stage, taking time to reach out and shake hands of fans in the first row. Among the songs Allison performed were Robot Love, Don’t Waste the Pretty, her noteworthy Idol cover of Pat Benatar‘s Heartbreaker and her uber-catchy single, Friday I’ll Be Over U. During her 30 minute set, Allison was briefly joined by the night’s second act, Orianthi as the two rocked out like a modern-day version of Heart.
Australian-born Orianthi, who propelled to fame as the guitarist who would have joined the late Michael Jackson on his proposed This Is It Tour, kept the Glamnationenergy going with her own set following Iraheta. While her set was brief, it was jam-packed with technically astonishing and musically awe-inspiring guitar riffs. Among the songs Ori performed: her Top 20 hit, According to You, Think Like a Man and her latest single, Shut Up and Kiss Me. During Shut Up, Orirecruited the audience for a bit of a battle-of-the-crowd, encouraging us to see which side of the auditorium could shout the key phrase the loudest. Another highlight of Ori‘s set came when her male backing guitarist joined her center stage for a guitar duel, during which, the two ended up lying onstage strumming each other’s axe. Further example of the melting-pot of music lovers in attendance was witnessed when the two decidedly hetero couples in front of us high-fived and exclaimed a chorus of “Dude”s following that musical moment.
Following Ori‘s performance and a another brief set-switch, a larger than life image of Adam was projected on the screen behind the stage. When this image appeared, my friend Ele noted for the first of several times how much Adam‘s look was reminiscent of Elvis Presley. Fans leapt to their feet as Adam emerged wearing a top hat to rival that of Johnny Depp‘sMad Hatter. He was also sporting a regal purple coat, complete with black fur shoulder accents.
He opened the show with For Your Entertainment and Voodoo. He then thrilled the audience with his take on Johnny Cash‘s Ring of Fire. Gotta wonder if he realized just how brave it was of him to tackle the classic on that hallowed stage in Johnny‘s longtime hometown. Regardless, he was brilliant. Adam‘s set had a perfect balance of rocking numbers and voice-showcasing ballads. Fever was fantastic. While his dancers were featured during a very Vegas-inspired dance routine to Sleepwalker, Adam took the time to do a bit of a costume change, re-emerging wearing a black full-length coat emblazoned with black embroidery and beadwork. Following Sleepwalker, Adam took a seat on a stool at center stage and said, “It is such an honor to be performing here at the Ryman.” With that he went into the acoustic portion of the show.
First in the acoustic set was a stripped down version of Whataya Want From Me. Next, the nearly operatic Soaked was simply breathtaking. Then cameAftermath, a song Adam said was about “looking inside yourself for the answer.”
Another quick costume change and Adam returned totally channeling Elvis, wearing a sleeveless leather accented sparkling top and skin-tight matching pants. This part of the set included rocking songs Sure Fire Winner, and the decidedly cocky Strut. While listening to Adam‘s performance of Music Again, I couldn’t help but think the song’s simplistic tag line rang true with everyone in attendance, “Oh, you make me wanna listen to music again/yeah, you make me wanna listen to music again.” If I Had You closed out the regular set, but anyone who’s ever attended a show at The Ryman knows the best way to insure an encore is to beat on the backs of the Ryman pews like drums. It worked, Adam returned for not one, but two encores. For his encores, Adam chose reinterpretations of two more songs he had performed during his Idol season. Up first was a more uptempo cover ofTears for Fears‘ Mad World, that was followed by Whole Lotta Love. Led Zepplin‘s original was nearly unrecognizable as Adam slowed the tempo, included an lengthy acoustic mid-section and put his undeniably unique touch on the song, as he had done the entire evening.
Adam, Allison and Ori continue on the US leg of their Glamnation Tour with upcoming shows across the country from New York to Florida and California to North Carolina from now until September. Then the Glamnation Tour goes international in October with three scheduled dates in Japan and an October 10 appearance in The Philippines. For more info on Adam Lambert, CLICK HERE. For more on Orianthi, CLICK HERE. For more on Allison Iraheta,CLICK HERE.
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