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?