So, this review is quite late but it was a lot of work. I had to gather my thoughts, get the photos together and then find some way explain, in detail, one of the best nights of my life. The following photos and videos were all taken by me. Please do not steal! If you are going to repost anywhere, I require credit. The photos are in chronological order, so I have posted them corresponding to the events I was describing in each paragraph.
So... Saturday, June 19, 2010. It was an exciting day for me. It was the day I would see Adam Lambert... in the flesh. I felt kind of nervous, even in the morning. It was hard, but I did not watch any concert footage on YouTube before I went to this show. I wanted to be completely surprised. There was so much anticipation. I had to add a little glitter to my make-up that day, of course:
We decided to skip the first few bands (Aleesia, Burnz N Hell, Spose, Fefe Dobson, Karl Wolf) and showed up at the stadium around 6:00. I do not listen to KISS FM and I hate most mainstream music, so it only made sense to go as close to Adam's performance as possible. We were told he was going on at 9:00. I was really not impressed with the line-up and failed to see how any of them were similar to Adam Lambert, but thankfully they allowed you to go in at any time. When we got into the venue, I immediately noticed the age diversity. I would say the majority of people were in their 20s, but there were some children, some teenagers, a lot of women in their 30s and 40s (Adam has a large cougar fanbase ;)), and I even saw couples in their 60s and 70s! I know Adam has a very diverse fanbase, but it was really cool to see all of those people at this venue.
I really wanted to see Orianthi, the female guitarist who was going to tour with Michael Jackson for his "This Is It" shows. She is a really amazing guitarist and her singing voice is not half bad! It was my first time hearing any of her music, and I liked what I heard. She had a male guitarist with her and he was really great too.
I patiently sat through a set by Danny Fernandes. I almost regretted getting there in time for Orianthi because I had to sit through an hour of Danny. I have no idea what they were trying to do, but it could not possibly be called "singing" or "dancing." It was so terrible. I was laughing more than anything else. Next up, however, was Kardinal Offishall. He is a Canadian rapper and is best known for his raggae-infuced musical styling. I had heard a bit of his music before, but he really made a fan out of me that evening. He was fantastic. He is just bursting with energy and I was smiling throughout the set. He managed to get almost everyone on their feet, dancing and singing along. I have to hand it to him--he is a great performer. I do not normally listen to a lot of rap or hip hop, but he is just great and I love most of what he has released (I listened to more this week). I am actually a huge fan of reggae and calypso, so his style really appeals to me.
Also, they did a small tribute to Michael Jackson since it is nearing the death anniversary. The band played some instrumental clips of Michael songs, and Kardinal was asking the audience if they were fans of Michael and to point to the sky and say hello to him. It was all very sweet and moving, and I could not have been happier that an artist was honoring his memory like that. What a sweet man.
The Adam Lambert part of the show started off with an audio-only "For Your Entertainment" remix. I would assume, by this point, Adam is sick of performing his first single. I think that is why they chose to give us this song in a non-performance format. The audience was getting more excited as the song neared its end. Shortly after, the lights went out. Almost immediately, my heart started pounding. I was actually shaking a bit and short of breath. This was it. I was on my feet. I popped the lens off of my camera. I watched the stage without blinking. The screaming was unbelievable. From the second the lights went out, I had no idea if I was going to have my hearing the next day.
Now, I had been praying that Adam would play "Voodoo," my favourite song of his next to "Fever" (which he always plays so I was not worried). And would you imagine my delight when I heard those first few mesmerizing beats? Adam, opening with "Voodoo." My heart was dancing, and I was screaming "Oh my god!" like a depraved school girl. I could not believe that my wish came true. Adam appeared, through colorful stage lighting, at the top of a staircase. It was god-like, a deity suddenly appearing out of thin air. He was decked out and I smiled from ear to ear as my eyes tried to digest the entire ensemble. He was all purple and black. He wore a top hat with purple mesh, an embroidered "A" and a few feathers. He appeared to be wearing the same hair piece, or a similar hair piece, as he wears in the "If I Had You" video. It is very long and braided with some blue hair pieces. He wore a thigh-length, bright purple jacket with fringes, at least a couple feet long, on the arms and back, complete with a protruding fur collar. Yes, yes. It was "so Adam." He had flared, snake-skin leather pants with a flat, laced up codpiece. And guess what? Bare feet! No boots; just bare feet. He wore his signature black, fingerless gloves, studded and rhinestoned, along with a black cuff bracelet on his left wrist. He had a black v-neck shirt underneath that revealed just enough of his chest, which was adorned with at least ten or more necklaces--some string, some beaded. His make-up was perfection, as always. A black, smoky eye with thick black liner on the upper and lower lash lines. Each lower lash line had a sprinkling of glitter.
As the song picked up pace, Adam descended slowly down the steps singing, "I was lookin' for love all over, you're the hunter and I'm your prey..." The song is so mystical and takes you into a trance. Adam was dark, mysterious and definitely in character for this song. I hung on to his every word, still having to remind myself that it was all real. The dancers posed like statues on stage until Adam stood next to each of them. Like a marionette, the first dancer moved to Adam's hand motions and then froze again as he walked away. Next, a male dancer who resembled Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd
. Adam pulled back his arm and dropped it; it dangled like a toy doll's. I waited for my favourite drawn-out high note: "I'm so obsessed with your sexiness..." (He did not actually draw it out long at this show but he usually does.) As the song led into "Down the Rabbit Hole," he shouted, "C'mon, Toronto! I wanna see ya jump!" An obviously confident Adam commanded our attention during this song, repeatedly luring us with his index finger. He put his arm around Tommy for a few seconds during the song, and my heart melted. By the end, he was walking back up the stairs. He shed his hat and jacket and ran his hand through his hair.
Suddenly, I could not believe my ears: the familiar opening Middle Eastern chords and chimes from "Ring of Fire." Yet another song I was praying he would do, and here he was... doing it! As far as I know, he did not perform this on his media tour at all. I know he has done it previously on his Glam Nation tour, but regardless, this was my first time seeing a live performance of it and I was ecstatic. I adored "Ring of Fire" from his Idol
days. It was, by far, the sexiest performance and really showed just how unique and interesting he could be with such a cool arrangement and reinvention. Again, more squealing at this point and my eyes were glued to the stage. He graced us with the same slow, sexy movements he did on Idol
during this song... some which he did while on his knees. He reached out slowly to the audience and then withdrew his hand back to his body. His vocals were amazing, perfectly controlled. He remained at the top of the stairs for the song and slowly moved his arms and hands with the song's pace. There is just no other way to describe it: it was slow, sexy and hot.
No matter how many times I have seen Adam perform "Fever" live (in videos), I always get the same impression: he loves performing this song and he really lets loose while singing it. Something just overtakes his being and I see a completely different side of him, a side I love. He just becomes this theatrical, flirtatious, campy individual who knows how to have fun and get everyone screaming. Well, "Fever" was next and Adam finally opened up. Was it nervousness? Was it the audience response? Or was he just making us wait for 'the real Adam'? Whatever it was, Adam was finally here, in his element and ready to strut his stuff. And so were his dancers! But first, it was Adommy time! I was excited to see what he would do with Tommy because Adam always flirts with Tommy near the beginning of "Fever." The number opened with Adam getting a little friendly with Tommy on the bottom step of the staircase, and I tried to snap a few photos despite fumbling around with my camera due to sheer excitement.
The last time I had a 'shipping obsession this strong was Brian/Justin from Queer as Folk
. And to think--these are real
people! Adam's hand was on the back of Tommy's head. They were so close that there is no way Tommy could not feel Adam's hot breath on his face. But no kiss. Not even a lick. It was the biggest tease in the history of teases. As Adam usually does, he playfully pushed Tommy's head away with his hand and I saw Tommy smiling. He so loves it
Next, Adam was sandwiched between two of his male dancers and the dancers started fawning over and worshiping him (as they should). The hips started moving. He started doing the synchronized moves with his dancers. I waited patiently for the chorus and watched as he did the famous "Fever" hand fan. So adorable! I also love the way he sings "'cause sweetheart" in this song. I squeed a bit more. The crowd went crazy as he twisted his body, moved his hips and thrust back his head. Think back to those Idol
tour performances with all of that hip-thrusting and gyrating. He sure can move his body in a fluid motion. More synchronized dancing. Adam even sat on the edge of the one of the platforms for a moment and crossed his legs. He did the "Fever" head thrusts that I have grown to love so much. (He seemed to have far less product in his hair than usual because his hair was flapping all over the place when he did it. Yes, I pay attention to these things. So sue me.) I love, love, love this song and it is even more amazing live. It is just so much fun
! He should release this as his next single.
Costume change! The band and dancers did a short interlude while Adam was off stage. As "Sleepwalker" started, Adam appeared at the top of the steps again, cloaked in a full-length black jacket with embroidery and rhinestone embellishments.
It only fastened in the middle so his pants were still visible when he walked, and he was still wearing the snake-skin pants. Still no shoes. You could see his bare feet. He kept a serious, pained face, communicating the somber mood of this rock ballad about moving on after a bad break-up. Adam never seems to stray from the characters he creates for his songs, and I really commend him for this ability. I suppose all those years of theatre come in handy, even as a musician.
The guitar solo was awesome, as always. I hope to see "Sleepwalker" released as a single. It is a great song. A little dark but certainly beautiful. I can definitely relate to it.
Time to slow it down a bit more.
Adam sat on a stool at the front of the stage for an acoustic "Whataya Want From Me." Adam started off by saying, sarcastically, "I think a few of you may know this next song." The crowd screamed. I do enjoy the acoustic version of this song much more than the album version, and he did do the acoustic version. The majority of the audience seemed to be singing along to this one, and it was a pretty cool sensation to hear all of those voices singing at once. (The Molson Amp seats 16,000 people, and the stadium was full.) I just kind of stared into his eyes through my camera lens during this number. Those deep, smoky, bedroom eyes. They were particularly beautiful as he sang this song. The crowd went wild as Adam pointed across the audience and sang, "But thanks for lovin' me, 'cause you're doing it perfectly." He smiled while he sang that line. It was sweet.
At the end of the song, Adam stood up and took a much-needed drink of water in preparation for the next number: "Soaked." Someone came to take the stool, and Adam stood for this one. The lighting was all blue and the spotlight was on Adam. It was very theatrical. I love "Soaked," and Adam's voice during this song is stunning. He did not disappoint me with this live version. His vocals were perfectly controlled and, truly, a thing of beauty. His vocal range during this song is just superb and really showcases his ability as a vocal artist. Adam did his usual hand gestures but kept a pained and sullen expression. A song about booze and loneliness, emotional and physical starvation, Adam seemed to feel every word he sang. His movements were minimal and that only gave you more reason to focus on the vocals. It is even more haunting live, being able to see and
hear the suffering "Soaked" offers.
Adam sat on the steps for "Aftermath," offering us an acoustic version with only Monte standing close. "Heartbreak sucks," Adam started off, "But sometimes you have to lift your head up and push on through." The lyrics may be simple, but I think this song has a lot to offer message-wise. "No more hiding, don't be afraid of what's inside," the song encourages. It is about not fearing who you truly are and remembering that you are never alone in the world. Adam really captures that feeling of being kicked down and having to force yourself to move on. Adam co-wrote this song too, so it is always nice to have such a personal piece of an artist you love. The setting was very intimate and very perfect for this particular number.
Put your dancin' shoes on!
Next, after a costume change, Adam was ready to belt out the anthem tune sure to inspire fist-pumping, "Sure Fire Winners." Love this song! He was geared for Glam Rock. He wore a black shirt and pants with blue stripes and blue rhinestones. The shirt was a buttoned, sleeveless vest with a pressed collar. The tight pants had blue stripes down each side. When he turned around, he revealed a glittery "A" on the back of his vest. He paired the outfit with matching black and blue boots. He wore only a single pendant necklace now. Adam had a strong, masculine persona throughout this song, full of confidence and swagger. The song is very climactic and empowering. The audience pumped their firsts in the air at Adam's command. I could not wait to hear my favourite lines: "I was born with glitter on my face, my baby clothes made of leather and lace." (I managed to get an image of him just as he pointed to his cheek and sang "glitter on my face," above.) I waited patiently for the high note he hits in this song, and I managed to even snap another photo at just the right moment:
Another semi-costume change as "Strut" began. He was wearing the same outfit but had the most beautiful and outrageous leather jacket over it, with the collar turned up like a rock star. It had black and white stripes on some parts but then blue leather on others. It was sprinkled with rhinestones and silver studs, mostly on the arms and back.
When he turned around, I saw that it was tailed and just about knee-length.
Adam takes on a new persona: master among minions. During the opening of the song, Adam was handed a regal staff, a bit smaller than the one we see in the "For Your Entertainment" video. (It was crotch-level, if you must know. I am sure this was strategic.) He used the staff forcefully, resting on it and jerking it with his arm. He did his usual move during "get on the floor, just let it drop." The crowd screamed, as usual. The chorus approached and he did his strut for us. He continued leaning on the staff and pounded it into the stage. He then threw it on to his shoulder and marched on the spot. The dancers were on stage with him, each with a staff, jerking and swinging to the beat. He did some interesting things with that staff about half way through, including swinging it around his crotch area and then pumping it up and down in time with his hips. Woo hoo! Shortly after, he did more of his catwalk moves. It was a very powerful performance and the fact that I absolutely love the song just added to my enjoyment. (I think "Strut" is my third favourite.) Adam has described this song about being comfortable in your own skin, and although I loved it before, hearing it live made me believe in its magic even more. This song just makes you feel so good; you forget about your self-esteem issues for a few minutes and get lost in the self-empowerment of it all.
Next up was "Music Again." ABBA meets Queen. You can tell Adam loves performing this song too. It is upbeat, fast-paced and Adam is always smiling. It is certainly a happy song with a positive message. Adam did not move around the stage too much for this number, standing front and centre with the microphone. But it did not matter because he was smiling enough to turn me into a puddle on the floor. I even saw Monte bopping his head along. It is just that
Now, let me just say... "If I Had You" is one of those songs that you may not like right away, especially if you are not a fan of dance/party songs, but it grows on you. But after seeing it live, I really do love it. I am not sure what came over me, or the rest of the audience, but the adrenaline was pumping and I was dancing and singing like nobody's business. As the chorus approached, everyone started throwing their arms in the air and jumping in time with the beat--including Adam! It was apparently time for some more Tommy love (and I was not opposed):
There was synchronized dancing with his dancers, rainbow lasers, smoke and, best of all... Monte, Adam and Tommy, side-by-side at the front of the stage. I was so thankful that one of the shots I took here turned out well:
I had a sinking feeling that this was the last song, but I continued enjoying it anyway. "You guys are so cute!" Adam said with a giggle, pointing to the audience. Everyone screamed. I wish I could imitate how he said that phrase. It was so adorable, the way he said it.
After introducing us to his dancers, he ended "If I Had You" and the stage was empty. Everyone was clapping, cheering and screaming. I actually had to plug my ears at that point. I knew there had to be an encore.
It was dark, and everyone was stomping and chanting, "Ad-am! Ad-am! Ad-am!" A few minutes later, the band was back on stage and I heard the familiar, haunting melody of "Mad World."
He did the up-tempo, acoustic version of this song that he had been doing on his promotional tour. To be honest, I prefer the original version that he did on Idol
but I was happy, regardless, to see him on that stage again.
Adam and the rest of the band left rather abruptly after a quick thank you, blowing a kiss and then bowing. It was only seconds later that the lights in the venue went on and back to reality it was. I pouted. I did not want it to be over.
Adam had told the Toronto Star that he "would love everyone to come away with a new appreciation for the music on [his] album." Well, Adam, you certainly succeeded. Not that I ever had the opportunity to go to a live Elvis or Queen concert, but I imagine Adam's presence on stage--his complete understanding and execution of showmanship--resembles that of Presley or Freddie Mercury. Or at least, it does from what I have seen of their live footage. To be honest, I was rarely paying attention to the dancers or any of the other stage effects. I was so focused on Adam that I forgot there were other people on the stage, at times. He really commands your attention, though not in an arrogant way. He is just so fun to watch. His colourful costumes, his passion, his immaculate vocals, the way he moves his body. He reminds me of Michael Jackson in many ways. But Adam is his own person; I suppose I cannot rightfully compare him to anyone else. I just see parts of other great performers in him sometimes. Even though I did not think it was possible, I believe I love him even more now, after seeing him live. He really proved himself as a vocalist and performer... this time, right in front of my very eyes instead of through a screen.
I only have two qualms. First of all, it was too short. This is obvious. Because this was turned into a multi-band event, Adam did not get to play a whole set and I will never forgive KISS FM for sponsoring it and adding those extra bands at the last minute. Seeing as it is his first tour and show in Toronto, they should have just had Adam performing. I am sure the show would have sold out without a problem, especially in a big city like Toronto. It was disappointing and I am sad he did not play more songs.
The second qualm is related: Adam did not play "Whole Lotta Love." I guess it is just as well because I may have fainted right then and there on the concrete floor. I have seen him perform this song on his Glam Nation tour (and previously on his media tour) and... wow. Every time I watch a video of that performance, my mouth is dry as a desert (seriously, I have trouble producing saliva for minutes on end). He did the regular version of this song on the Idol
tour, but he started doing a slowed down, sultry, acoustic version of it on his media tour (and now Glam Nation). It is just sexy beyond words. I guess I will just have to continue watching the epic Fantasy Springs performance
of this song. But yes, it was sad that he never played it at the show here and I feel a small pang of jealousy knowing so many others got to see it live
in the US. DAMMIT.
Overall, I felt like Adam was a bit reserved. I really enjoyed the show, of course, but it definitely felt like he was honoring his promise to be "family friendly" on this tour. I am so used to Adam pushing the envelope and doing his own thing. It reminds me of when Elvis was told not to shake his hips on stage. What gives?! Let Adam be who he is! He is a sexual being and the crowd goes nuts any time he does anything remotely sexual--so just let us have our fun. I suppose this sounds like I am trying to paint him as some sexual object, but I am just saying he is a very sexual person and that was clear even on Idol
at times. I love that about him. After the American Music Awards performance, Adam made comments about male sexuality being suppressed and taboo in society, and I completely agree with him. Good for Adam for being so ballsy about his own. I just have a feeling Adam was told to "tone it down" for this tour. Regardless, it was still an outstanding show. Nothing could have changed that.
My hearing returned later that evening, but I think I left my heart in the venue. It was an amazing experience, and I am happy that I had the opportunity to see Adam live. I knew it would be an unforgettable event, and I really need to be grateful that he came to Toronto and that I was able to get better tickets than I originally had. I do not think I would have enjoyed myself as much had I gone with the old tickets. Being that close made it so much better, especially for photo-taking purposes. I took 289 photos, and most of them turned out wonderfully. A lot of the ones where I zoomed in are grainy (as you can see), but they look decent when not full size. I was zoomed in 71x for a lot of them, so that was to be expected. The quality also depended on the stage lighting at the time, which was forever changing. Regardless, I am happy with my photos. With my luck, they could have all been horrible and I would have been sulking and kicking myself. But, for once, the stars were aligned and things played out in my favour.
I did take a few videos but not of full songs. They did not turn out as well. It is just as well; security was going around and making sure people were only taking photos (which, of course, is completely stupid because Adam tweets fan footage from his concerts all the time). There are not too many on YouTube from this Toronto show, but I found enough to download and have as keepsakes. I did film most of "Ring of Fire."
Thank you, Adam, for giving me this. It will go down in personal history as one of the most beautiful and memorable events in my life.
Elvis Lip Adam!