Thursday, 13 August 2009

When the World Turned its Back

I hate you world. Your summer sun turned to ice in the vast bleak sky, its rays jagged icicles impaling and lacerating the essence of my being through my every shivering pore, bleeding me cold. Then turning on your stifling oppressive heat you sucked away my air before reaching out to strangle me. You sliced off the pit of my stomach, crushed my pressured head then pounded at what remained of my heart, blow after blow after blow. My ears can hear but have stopped listening, my ruptured eyes are open but no longer see. Why is it that I can still feel anguish with what little remains? A quivering voice among many, I pleaded with you to let the sun return to the East just this once, to let the rivers trickle upstream just this once, to bring back spring just this once, to allow painful words to be unheard just this once, to undo the suffering just this once. But you laughed in our faces, tormenting us as we watched the rest of the world enjoy the warm summer sunshine denied to us. I am damaged beyond repair, a wilted flower neither living nor dead but just existing in that lost space, perpetually reliving the despair, trapped between desperately trying to claw back the dawn and waiting an eternity for a never-approaching tomorrow. You cruelly give and take life as if playing a light-hearted game. I hate you for the pain you inflicted and for forcing us apart. We weren't ready to say goodbye. World, you are dead to me.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Baltimore, More, More!

You have no idea how happy it makes me to get great HQ video so soon after a gig. Less video editing for me, woohoo! And I finally manage to get this blog up to date instead of waiting for them to trickle in.

Adam wore his hair slicked back for this set and I've decided that it's not quite Elvis, as it's not as smooth, but rather a punked Elvis with a fauxhawk tail. The eye makeup looks a bit darker too, more indigo than turquoise. I'm still praying he steers well clear of mullet territory. In 'Baby' WLL he didn't throw himself around quite as much at the start but there was no stopping those legs that were shaking around raring to go, and those hips which got him into full flow with a great thrust-and-chop action. He was the cocky snarling rockstar giving the audience disdainful looks and they lapped it up with enthusiasm, eager for more. There was still a fair amount of playing with his earpiece though, and I'm surprised that after all this time, the sound issues haven't been fully ironed out. He laid any worries about his voice to rest and maintained its power with an impressive run at the end.

His voice sounds beautifully rich and gritty in his lower register in this recording of Starlight. I don't know if you can relate to this, but hearing the timbre makes me want to sink my teeth into it - does that sound really weird? It seems that Adam's voice has a synaesthetic effect on me and when I hear it, the closest description I can come to is that it's like taking a very full bite out of a juicy peach, or biting a soft-ish piece of this specific, slightly grainy chocolate praline, and melting it in my mouth. Anyway, he left out the full-force note again in MW and there were more bra antics during Slow Ride where a flying pink one narrowly missed hitting Allison and she creased up. She left it up to Adam to deal with the said bra. There was another 'Ooh!' and a white bra during the Bowie medley, where he generously dished out the high notes and was really going for it with the dancing. The song ended with a very long descending run with accompanying hip swivel for good measure. We'll have more of that please.

Easy in Washington DC

What voice problems? What cold? In 'Baby' WLL, his voice was back on show in its full magnificence, powerbelting out those extended high notes with ease. Adam's hair has been looking fluffier and tuftier as it's been growing out, reminding me of the final Upright performances. From what I can gather of Starlight and MW, he sailed through them flawlessly and there were plenty of smiles all around during Slow Ride. I particularly liked his dismissive expression during 'Look at those cavemen go' in the Bowie medley as he injected more drama and attitude to Life On Mars. He swooped down to pick up and fling yet another bra, magenta this time, into the audience and those hips really went for it. In this recording, I love the timbre of his voice as there seems to be a little more rock grit to his belts, and I'm happy he didn't seem to hold back.

Greensboro Opens its Back Door

There were quite a few worried fans going into this and a few more worried fans going out with concerns about Adam's voice as he seemed to ration his stratospheric high notes. 'Baby' WLL finally saw the lyric 'I wanna be your back door man' with all its innuendo. From the video, he sounded a little hoarse during Starlight and a couple of notes appear to have been shortened. No problems during MW, although again the power belt was missing as he went up into falsetto instead. Despite having heard it so many times, I think it's a good choice to include it in the set; I see it as the song where he rests his voice a little as it's the least taxing. Slow Ride was another chance to have fun and improvise where he and Allison circled each other and the Bowie medley was energetic, ending on an extra long gyration instead of his trademark high note.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Chewing over Charlotte

I'm a little tired after a day of videos so I'm keeping this brief. Here's my video selection for this stop:

'Baby' WLL was another stunning performance with stellar high notes and an incredibly long riff at the end. The video for Starlight is crystal clear, and you can hear some feedback at the beginning which is followed by Adam fiddling with his earpiece. Adam is thrilled to be on stage performing with his warming smile. Again, the video for Mad World is beautiful and for the first time during the tour, I could clearly hear his silky smooth voice singing at just above a whisper where he chose to omit his belting note. Adam was chewing on something during Slow Ride, which got the cogs of the rumour mill started and there was speculation that he was losing his voice. He didn't seem to hold back his voice during this song though, and had fun, first playing with a turquoise bra with red nipple tassles, then a lime green bra thrown to him by Allison. Adam worked the Bowie medley well with increasingly full movements. He refrained from doing the highest belts we've been used to, and chose to end the medley unusually on a booming low run which sounded very full. The cogs stepped up a gear.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Poll Results: Your Favourite Tour Set Performances

I took a much-needed break from editing videos today so I'm finally getting round to doing a bit of writing. I thought I'd sum up the results of my not-so-scientific poll. Of the tour set so far, the Bowie Medley wins, closely followed by WLL which had an early lead probably due to the shock of jaw-dropping sexual antics blasting the AI image to smithereens. We finally saw how much Adam held back during AI, which now seems tame in comparison, and I have to wonder if he's still holding back a little seeing as it's still the AI tour. Starlight sits in the middle, with MW trailing and unsurprisingly, Slow Ride comes in last.

Your two favourite performances are so different, only similar by being very sexually charged, spectacular and most fitting of his own description of “High. Fierce. Beat. Horny. Fun.” WLL is a visually powerful adrenaline rush with plenty of fit-inducing lights and strong contrasts between the explosion of stars and the black vortex that follows him, the purpose of which I think is to make him visible against the stars when the spotlight shines. And yes, we've all been sucked into a vortex with no escape. It's very strange watching and comparing WLL with the Idol performance now as you realise how much better he has become. I think he's more suited to the bigger audience; the Idol stage just wasn't worthy of his awesomeness. Those very suggestive moves are not for the faint-hearted and are an impossibly difficult feat to, erm, pull off, without appearing to be either a) a sleazy sex-pest, b) an arrogant bastard, c) a sad delusioned fool (cf. other contestant), d) a self-parodying novelty act, or e) a combination of the aforementioned. Somehow, Adam manages to prance his way through the minefield and come off as a fierce sex god who we, and our mums, all want to be fucked senseless by. The air that Adam exudes during WLL is highly masculine, predatory, sneering, domineering and aggressive as he prowls around the stage.

The Bowie medley, in contrast, is feline, camp, kinky and playful, ranking highly on the effeminacy scale. I'm assuming it wins because it shows a side that we didn't see during the course of AI as he fluidly slinks around the stage. It also has more variation as it's made up of three different songs. Life On Mars is sung in a very dramatic style where he over-enunciates his words. I love it because it gives the finger to all those who accused him of being 'theatrical' in a derogatory way. I'll show you theatrical, bitch! His voice is very powerful because the song seems to sit in his vocal sweet spot. The jacket removal at the start of Fame signifies to me that it's time to let loose and camp it up, showing us his lithe frame doing risqué dance moves, which are usually the preserve of scantily-clad, attention-seeking popstrel divas. Again it's a fine line between managing it do it with aplomb and inducing your audience into a collective spasm of squirm in embarrassment. I attribute being on the right side of the line to his exceptional self-awareness. I don't think Fame and Let's Dance show off Adam's voice very well apart from when he does the glory notes. There doesn't seem to be enough room for his voice to expand, but the point of those songs is to get everyone up dancing and having fun. Fame has a very funky bassline and would get me onto my feet more than Let's Dance. I'm not so keen on the arrangement of Let's Dance as it lacks the groove of the original and doesn't feel as dancey as I would like. From what I can tell by the concert videos, I think it could do with more of a hook and a stronger bass to get my feet properly going. Not that I'd be able to do much dancing at the concert anyway, because within his glittery halo I'd probably be too mesmerised to move.

It's interesting that your two favourites are almost polar opposites on the gender scale. It's like Adam is purposefully trying to prove a point that he's touched on many times already and bringing to our attention - that attraction is universal, regardless of sexual orientation - and the fact that we love both is demonstrative of that. He doesn't want to be the poster boy for gay rights, but he's certainly doing a great job in shattering stereotypes by challenging our accepted notions of masculinity and femininity, and the way we tend to box those concepts into neat separate containers.

Starlight, which Adam has done straight-up, isn't too far behind in third place. Although it doesn't have the spectacle and buzz of the top two, it's 'new' material and a visual feast. Some of the reviews have overlooked it, perhaps proving that people view concerts as being all about the theatrics. It's a shame because it's a very difficult song to sing and he sings it beautifully, sliding up and down his supernatural vocal register. The performance has evolved and he's been increasing his interaction with the audience by pacing around the stage instead of just using his expressive arms while standing still. This is the song that I feel whisks me away to a kaleidoscopic fantasy world that's carpeted with stars and the air is all twinkly with glitter. Add to that the dizzying sensation of the lighting and it feels like a wonderful trip or a dream that you want to go back to sleep for, in the hope that you can pick up where you left off.

Mad World lags some way behind, mainly because we've heard it so many times already. The version he sings isn't like the top 8 one, but rather more like the one he did on the press tour. The visuals show a swirling galaxy and it feels a like he's lost in the vast expanse of space which highlights the mood of desolation from the song. But it's not all depressing doom and gloom because the colours are bright and vibrant, encouraging optimism so that once you've found your way again, if you care to look, what surrounds you is beauty and everything will be just fine. Slow Ride suffers because we don't want Adam to share the stage with anyone else. Due to Allison's age, he has to dial things back a bit. We can see that he's been careful about not being overly sexual with her and instead saves the gyrating for the audience. It makes me wonder how saucy it could have been if she were older, or if he had shared the stage with a hot guy.

With regards to the set as a whole, each song brings out a different side of Adam and if I had to sum up each in one word, it would be: sex, vocals, tenderness, fun and fabulousness respectively. We knew from the show that he could do anything week after week as his range is so diverse but he continues to impress me even more. I can't imagine any other artist who can so smoothly transition between completely different songs in terms of vocal style and mood, in such a short set, without jarring. It's so astonishing that we hardly even notice it. If I were to nit-pick, I would have preferred WLL to be the one to finish on rather than the Bowie medley, but perhaps one is needed to pave the way for the other. I imagine it might be a bit too shocking of Ring of Fire-WTF?-proportions for casual viewers of AI who had no clue about Adam's pre-Idol gigs to be led straight to the medley. I prefer Slow Ride to come earlier in the set and think the visuals of Starlight and MW could have done with stronger differentiation because they tend to merge into one.

Adam's theatre experience has put him in really good stead for the tour as he knows how much drama to inject, how full his movements need to be, how to engage the audience and how to create a specific atmosphere. I'm thrilled that he's managed to indulge in all things sparkly and magical in the staging and outfit. There's definitely a strong space theme permeating the set, from the black hole to the stars to the swirling galaxy to the red planet, not to mention his alien presence. “Post-apocalyptic-rocked-out-space-disco-funk” indeed. His show dares us to dream; it sweeps us away from the mundanity of everyday life into an inspiring and enchanting wonderland. A brief glimpse into Planet Fierce perhaps?

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Props to Duluth

Here's my selection of videos from Atlanta:

'Baby' WLL was scintillating. It started off with perhaps a slight hiccup because the guitar started when the introduction package was still on the screen. There were quite a few changes to the timing and phrasing and those high notes were just amazing. I thought he looked more comfortable and looser than ever, being right at home on stage. I noticed that he stepped back a little during the mic molestation to allow more of him to be lit by the floor light. The song ended with some insane riffing. Starlight started with some swaying before a blue bra flew past him. He looked like he was really amused and couldn't stop himself from smiling throughout the song. It showcased a beautiful vocal performance with one noticeable difference when it appeared his timing was a little late. MW was another solid performance. Slow Ride saw yet another bra, pink this time, get kicked up by Allison then swung and flung back by Adam, who then he picked up a feather boa and draped it around her shoulders. His enunciation during Life On Mars was less dramatic than usual, which finished with Adam taking his coat off in two steps to prolong his striptease. There was a purple whip during Fame that he whipped himself with before sending back to the audience. There were some different dance moves and it looks like he's comfortable with improvising more and more as the show goes on. There were so many things thrown on the stage during this show, and it seems that each stop wants to outdo the last in terms of props. It certainly makes it fun and keeps it interesting. I'm pleased to see that Adam seems to be having a great time giving us all a great time.

Stalker at Sunrise

Stay away from YouTube, stay away from the boards, stay away from YouTube, stay away from the boards... no matter how many times I recite that mantra, the urge still manages to consume me so apologies for being a little thin on articles lately. Here's my video selection:

There were rumours abound that security was extra tight to prevent anything from being thrown onto the stage because of a supposed stalker but nothing was confirmed. 'Baby' WLL had incredible energy and plenty of small changes for the anoraks amongst us. Starlight was beautifully done and MW saw a couple of changes in 'chi-ild' and a prolonged 'ma-a-ad' near the end. It's great to see Adam no longer holding himself back during Slow Ride. There was extra shimmying, head bobbing and a spin added to Fame with more gyrating during Let's Dance. This was definitely one of his best and most different performances in terms of the dancing. The last note was the longest I'd heard from him for a while and if there were any worries about stalkers, he certainly didn't show it with an infectious grin across his face.