Sunday, 22 September 2013

Queenbert iHeartRadio Festival Las Vegas


It was Queenbert last time round that broke this blog due to the long sets and overwhelming volume of media, so this seems an appropriate time to fix it. A Queenbert collaboration is about as perfect a fit as it's possible to get and a reunion we'd been wishing the months away for. Here's the full set:



It seems like forever since I last saw Adam perform and what a sight for sore eyes he is. Wow. He looks stunning. Cutting a svelte figure looking refined in unimposing understated black, he's dressed respectfully in keeping with the rest of the band and not attention-seekily, which only shows Adam's sensitivity and class. There's facial hair with very little make-up and it's quite rare to see him without a jacket for such an event. Maybe he's remembered it makes him sweat bucketloads. Casual with shirt slashed to the waist and skintight jeans, there's no denying his irresistible sex appeal. The only bling comes in the form of a bit of jewellery, a belt and those bedazzled Louboutins.

The set kicks off with the "Mama" part of Bohemian Rhapsody and with it he's finally scratched my 5 year (almost) itch. Despite being part of previous Queenbert concerts, this is the first time Adam has performed it since his AI audition. It will draw the inevitable comparisons with Freddie but he holds his own. I think he lacks the cutting clarity of Freddie's tone but it's strong and he adds a different grittier rock texture to it. The theatricality and the emotion still give it that impact though.

Another One Bites The Dust completes the opening medley and the start is a shock. Adam's voice is so low and rich and it's that part of his range that we rarely hear. Even during the higher parts I realise that during the Trespassing era I haven't heard that much of his melodic sweet spot, which is truly sublime. He gets his strut on, showing us all what a powerful and charismatic front man he makes.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love comes with a heavy dose of swagger with some of Adam's diction a nod to Elvis. He's a bit tentative when the music cuts out but his belting is mightily impressive.

Who Wants To Live Forever brings an abrupt change to the mood of the set. Super dramatic from very soft and whispery to strong, powerful and operatic, Adam's voice seems limitless as he glides effortlessly between its many different shades and facets. He gives me goosebumps galore, especially at the climax which I will to keep going. You cannot fail to be moved by this and the emotion behind it. It's spellbinding. I watch and listen in awe, astounded all over again by his mastery of his phenomenal voice. I already feel from this concert that he's reached a new level, above everything else so far and it makes me proud to see him strive to keep improving when there's so little room for it. It could just be the quality of the recordings but it sounds to me that the difference between this and last year's Queenbert is considerable.

Adam leaves the stage for Fun to join Queen for Somebody To Love, sung by their front man Nate Ruess. It's quite cruel for anyone to follow Adam, kind of like the anti-climax of Kris performing after Adam on the AI tour. Nate has a lovely timbre to his voice but he seems to not be very well trained on the mic. I think it's too far and he doesn't keep it steady, affecting how we perceive his tone, power, projection and volume. They have different styles though and I've come to appreciate how slick and well-controlled Adam's is. Comparatively rough around the edges, Nate does a good job and it's enjoyable, but for selfish reasons I can't help but wish it were Adam singing instead. As an aside, it seems Fun's guitarist didn't get the memo regarding what to wear. I think he looks like a guy they dragged in off the street.


Adam is re-introduced back on stage for a Fat Bottomed Girls duet with Nate. When I think of Adam performing, I often think of him playing up to the crowd but I have a new-found appreciation of how physically restrained he is. In direct contrast to Nate's rather hyperactive flaily style, Adam seems effortlessly cool and laid back in comparison. His stage presence still dominates and is second-to-none. The highlight which is hilarious, has to be where he straddles an imaginary object (I'll leave that to your imagination), works his snake hips and demands us to get on our bikes and ride. Yes sir!

A mashup of Dragon Attack with the Bohemian Rhapsody breakdown follows. By force of habit, I almost expect DA to segue into Shady but both songs are frustratingly abbreviated. He hits a rare sharp note in the very short burst of BR. I want to hear more of it though. I really think full versions deserve to be heard and a half hour set is nowhere near enough.

We Will Rock You marks the beginning of the end. A tuft of hair is starting to fall and there's a flat note. I have to say that the crowd is particularly lame. Don't any of them know how to clap in time? Admittedly they didn't all come to see Queen and the venue is massive but when you compare it to any of the London shows it must have been a disappointment for the performers. Maybe Adam should have led the clapping There was the potential to create a magical atmosphere for all that was missed.

We Are The Champions is the spectacular conclusion to the set and Adam leaves no doubt as to his suitability for the task in hand. The crowd is better for this one with a few arms swaying in the air but it's still not a patch on London last year. He ends the concert with a blast of his trademark bluesy runs but I just don't want it to end.

I love this concert though the truncated songs and the abrupt switching between them is a serious source of irritation. I would've liked to have heard Don't Stop Me Now, The Show Must Go On and a full Bohemian Rhapsody but the allocated time is too short. I feel that Adam's upped his game, vocally stretching his range. His voice and his presence are so very powerful, exuding charisma and commanding all before him. There is no denying his Rock God credentials as I feel humbled just watching him. Magnificent.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Lay Me Down - Stream with Review and Lyrics


I didn't expect to neglect this blog for so many months but I've been busy trying to sort my life out and am regularly daunted by the mountain of stuff I still have to watch and review. Maybe I'll just draw a line under it seeing we have new music to get into. Here's Avicii's new song Lay Me Down with Adam on vocals and Nile Rodgers on Guitar:



There's no messing around here; a thumping four on the floor start with some signature Nile Rodgers funk guitar licks make the intro to this tune instantly recognisable.

Highly distorted vocals are gradually introduced, so mangled they could belong to anything from me singing whilst drunk to a hamster on helium. Then the bassline... wow. The wicked wicked bassline. It's irresistibly fast and funky with rapid changes that whoop your arse into gear.

A pause in the beat with a delightfully cheeky lick lays down the foundation for Adam's vocals to come in. No hamsters here and very little meddling. Breathy, laid back, echoey, deep and punctuated by a delicious amount of coarseness in places like “life” and “damn”, it's an absolute joy. The style is different to what we've been accustomed, but the departure is a welcome one. His voice is the soul of the tune, confiding in the verses, then big and belty when needed to lift it to euphoric levels for the dancefloor.

The chorus has layers of backing vocals and an unapologetically cheesy organ-synth, the sound of which I find whiny and annoying. Another niggle is when Adam crams lots of words into a small space a la Aftermath: “Anytime anybody” but here it's “Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one”. I guess I just feel inadequate when I can't keep up with the singing. The lyrics aren't particularly deep, basically saying "Fuck it! And fuck me!" which is fine by me as it's a song for good times. The end of the tune is a little surprising with Adam going softly up to his falsetto and an abrupt end.

Despite the negatives, I do rate this song, it's so addictive and never fails to get me moving. The combination of Adam's voice, the bass and the funk really hit the spot. I love love love the guitar solo parts, which are made of absolute win. Adam and Nile should just write shit together all the time and I would buy it, dance to it and worship it.

Here are the lyrics as far as I can make out:
I've been weak
Things get tough
Sometimes my knees can barely hold me up
I'm no fool
But it's said
You gotta walk a mile to get outta my head

Going In
Tasty luck
Take a little bit and baby don't you give up
Get your life
Give a damn
You gotta make a move to show me where we can stand

Lay me down in darkness
Tell me what you see
Love is where the heart is
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Come on
Lay me down in darkness
Tell me what you see
Love is where the heart is
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need

Come on
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need

I got the time it'll be alright yeah
I got the time that you need yeah

We all bleed
Bleed the same
If you get the picture leave it out of the frame
In the now
Take a chance
Make a mess and don't forget that life is a dance

Going in
Tasty luck
Take a little bit and baby don't you give up
Get your life
Give a damn
You gotta make a move to show me where we can stand

Lay me down in darkness
Tell me what you see
Love is where the heart is
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Come on
Lay me down in darkness
Tell me what you see
Love is where the heart is
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need

Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need
Show me I'm the one tell me I'm the one that you need

Show me baby baby tell me that you need yeah

I got the time it'll be alright yeah
I got the time that you need

Come on

Lay me down in darkness

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Miami Beach Gay Pride


This was to be one of a number of LGBT events that Adam was to perform in. There were a few rumours (wishful thinking) about that stemmed from Adam's tweet that A Deeper Love might be a new inclusion in his set. Thinking back to Sydney's Mardi Gras I did wonder whether he was going to really let loose and perform in the true spirit of the event, codpiece and all. In one of most ridiculously loud outfits you'll ever see him wear, with gladiator-type sandals, (I'm guessing it was his personal take on Miami Vice fashion) he was honoured with the key to the city of Miami. How the fuck he managed to pull that outfit off is anyone's guess but against all logic, he's never looked more fabulous, and positively glowed. Here's my playlist of his set:



After the earlier suit I'm ever so slightly disappointed that his outfit for the performance is comparatively conservative. I mean, if there's a time and place to get all creative with Zodiac-style OTT bare-chest with spray-on-leggings and said codpiece then this is surely it? He's opted for a leopard print T-shirt under a sleeveless leather top and black combats with glittery blue belt. He's without a live band and although he's joined on the tiny stage by dancers Johnny and Terrance, it does affect the energy somewhat. When there's a backing track that can't be adjusted around him during the performance, the freedom to ad-lib is limited.

A remix of NCOE is played after Adam's introduction so I do wonder whether he missed his cue and was originally meant to perform it. He starts with Trespassing and from the off, he's fierce and crotch-grabby. There are variations in the melody as he opts to go for some lower notes but the ringing glory note belt is magnificent. Naked Love is next and I can't quite tell from the sound quality whether the backing track has been remixed into something less pop and more beat-driven dance. Terrance and Johnny bring on a couple of topless guys to gyrate around, making this altogether a lot saucier than usual and Adam mischievously gives one of them a nipple-tweak. It looks like Johnny has more fun with his than Terrance though. A very celebratory and joyful performance. Next up is Pop That Lock sung with attitude and Adam proves he has the moves. The big notes are fantastic once again. I find WWFM a rather surprising choice with which to end the set. The energy of this one is a step down from the others and Adam is on his own. He comes up with yet another lovely new way to sing "I need a second to breathe, Just keep coming around". Timely fireworks come in just at the crescendo as he wails his way to the finish.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

We Are Family Foundation Celebration Gala 2.0


Do not adjust your screens, this really is my first post in absolutely ages. I did intend to summarise every concert but the backlog is now massive and Bert time is scarce. So I've been chugging along doing the bare minimum on the Performances site which should come in handy when that write-up time arrives. Not sure when that or the next post will be though.

Shady is by far my favourite Trespassing song for the groove, the mood and the lyrics so when I heard that Adam would finally get to perform it with collaborators Nile Rodgers and Sam Sparro I got all waggly-tailed, to put it politely. But I didn't manage to follow it live as the Earth has the audacity to be so rude as to separate me from the gig by units of time zone rather than inches. Damn you planetary physics and space-time! *Shakes fist*

Watching the videos was a blast though, especially with fresh senses not having first endured a Mermish assault. Here's my playlist:



Adam receives a special We Are Family Foundation Unity award for being his fabulously badass self. Presented to him by Sam Sparro (now where have we seen that before?), he gives a slightly awkward-sounding speech, having a gentle dig the atmosphere probably because the crowd talked all through Sam's presentation.

Zips and leather aplenty, Adam rocks up for the opening number all in black understated chic (but couldn't resist a sparkly electric blue belt). He's joined on stage by Sam, Nile and his band, which includes some original members of Chic and the drummer for Let's Dance. After 50+ versions from the AI tour, I love hearing this arrangement that's so close to the original. This full band version sounds much better than the hollow light-rock AI ones, or the funkless electronic VH1 version. Sam appears to have trouble with his mic, which seems to be on near-silent mode for much of the time. There's only one natural showman though, even with his back to the crowd doing dorky dance moves, such as using an invisible towel to scrub his rear. When Adam comes in for the solos, his voice surprises me by its softness and it's very very sweet. Makes me realise how shouty the early versions were in comparison. It lends extra impact to the sparingly-used big high notes, making them even more goosebump-inducing.

Shady is the one I've been waiting so long for, and my expectations were that this would be a special one. After a number of close calls of being in the same place but different day last year, Adam, Nile and Sam would finally be united on stage for a performance. There's an endearing familiarity between them on stage, the banter beforehand like that between old friends. I can only imagine how enjoyable it must have been to create this together. I love the sound of the dirtier bass and Nile's funk guitar. The tempo is much faster and it really bounces along. Aside from Sam's sound issues, the vocals are perfect, backing harmonies great and that panting part is delicious enough to tip anyone over the edge. I spot the return of the flaily-arm woman (of Glam Nation DVD infamy) right at the front of the stage doing her thang but thankfully the arms aren't overly obstructive. The brass section adds some light jazzy pizazzy fun, with the instrumental section inducing stank faces and impelling hips to get a groove on. In keeping with Adam's penchant for mixing songs (Naked Love + 100% Pure Love, Pop That Lock + Smooth Criminal) there's an inclusion of En Vogue's Free Your Mind in the mix too. There's so much more energy and vigour on stage than previous renditions, but at the same time there's an ease and a natural chemistry as talented musicians just having a jam.

WWFM is next in the set and Adam is honoured that Nile is accompanying on guitar. It's a fast and very full-sounding version with more backing vocal layers than normal, a funk edge and more instruments. Even brass makes an appearance. It's been quite some time since the last studio-like arrangement and it's a joy to see them both swaying together in synch to the music.

The set concludes with a fast-paced Trespassing that follows closely along the lines of the album version including the electro elements. I don't think Adam's quite ready when the band starts up but he makes it on cue. I love Nile's contribution to this version with and can't help feeling that this is how it ought to sound. Adam ends up singing some of the harmonies and nails the vocals including a magnificent ringing glory note.

I feel that what we have here is a level above what's gone before and I'm a huge fan of the bassist as well as Nile on guitar. I like the mixture of male and female backing vocals and the double drum kit. The brass adds an extra dimension as well as providing depth and variety. The short set provides a glimpse of what could be achieved in a live performance with a different set-up and direction. I hope it gives Adam some food for thought regarding options with the band to experiment with, aiming for more adventurous and free-spirited performances. I get the feeling that jamming on stage is where the magic really happens for Adam. I think he's at his best when spontaneous; venturing, reacting and flowing through a performance, continually probing, testing and adjusting rather sticking to a rigid plan. Propelled by quality musicianship and feeding off the audience energy to push himself that bit further, Fantasy Springs is the epitome of this for me. The stage here is made up of a mish-mash of very different individuals but they just click, producing something so cohesive. From the costumes to the movements and presentation, I don't feel there's anything contrived and I think it's because he's with musicians who share an understanding and have the style and talent to flourish when given the freedom to express themselves. Because of this, I often wish Adam would lean more towards jazz and funk stylings, especially as he has so much soul. I think the flexibility suits him more than the structure of electronic or rock. I'd be happy if he could infuse more of those dynamic elements into his music both in the studio and on stage.



Just as I was beginning to write this review, I unusually managed to tune in to one of Adam's twitter parties and threw a few speculative questions his way. I had to check several times to make sure my second ever reply was real:


I have yet to meet him so tweets are the only contact I've had. And I'm fucking thrilled! Not only about getting a reply but I getting "sexy" in it. I got a wink and extra info volunteered in my first ever reply so I'm privileged.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Friday Download - Never Close Our Eyes


The second of Adam's UK TV promo performances of NCOE, this one's for a children's music programme from the Beeb. It makes a very refreshing change to see such a young audience all bopping along to him with much enthusiasm.



Adam uses session musicians as his usual band didn't make the trip over the pond. As usual he's looking fine as an understated rocker, no bulging risqué trouser situations and only minimal makeup, which looks great in the close-ups. As far as the vocal goes, it's not as ambitiously acrobatic as some of the other NCOEs but I think it's the best so far of all the TV shows being pretty much pitch-perfect. Performance-wise, he really gets the crowd jumping up and down with his energy, fist-pumps and clapping. I could do without so many shots of the tall presenters showing off their moves and blocking the view of the smaller kiddies behind them but overall, delightful.

Alice's Summerthing 2012


It seems like this sunny daytime radio concert happened such a long time ago. Adam was without Isaac, his usual drummer, but the rest of the band and backing singers were there. The visual presentation - Adam's cool daytime rocker look with mirrored sunglasses and the staging - is very reminiscent of his Moscow concert.



The set commences with a sassy and energetic Trespassing followed by Kickin' In, which I'm still finding a but repetitive. There are a few close-ups of Adam's sunglasses which are great for seeing the reflection of the crowd. The shades come off at the end of Shady to a loud cheer, I guess because we need to see his eyes to make that all-important connection, especially for the next song, a stirring WWFM.

Naked love brings the tempo back up with a singalong, which I thing should be topped off by a grand finish instead of petering out, but I guess I'm starting to sound like a broken record. IIHY follows and I'm guessing Adam has problems finding his pitch as he doesn't actually start singing until quite a way into the song. The set gets a bit emo with Broken English and some impressive vocals, though I think there are parts of the guitar solo that sound a bit off. Chokehold is beautifully dramatic.

There's a little bit of banter before another change in mood, where Adam uses jetlag as an euphemism for feeling the effects of the weed wafting in from the crowd. A fun smiley NCOE gives way to a tribute to Donna Summer with a performance of Hot Stuff. It's a wonderful and unusual treat for us all to hear a new song, a classic with the twist being Adam's fantastic vocals over it. It leads straight into Cuckoo with band intros where Adam gets all potty-mouthed with his mo-fos. It ends on a high with an almighty note plus trademark run.