Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Q-Snowcase 2012

Adam's 30th birthday was spent working on promoting his new material for Belgian radio station Qmusic. He performed an exclusive set at the Q-Snowcase event in the picturesque city of Zell am See, Austria. They were kind enough to let us crash their servers while providing a live stream of the event as it unfolded. We were waiting, salivating over the hope that we might hear some new material after reading unanimously glowing reviews of his album from all over the place.

The set is acoustic with Isaac, Kevin and Tommy but no Ashley, and takes me back to the first round of international promo. As well as being more portable and easier to set up, it also allows Adam's talent to shine supreme. Dressed all in black, nothing showy, he keeps his look consistent with the other performances in this era.

The surprise opener is Fever. I'd often wondered how this song with so many electronic sounds would work acoustically, so I'm grateful I've been answered with its first outing. Adam's voice utilises a grainier texture which is my absolute favourite. The song bounces along brightly, a little strange in the absence of crotchularly fixated movements but Adam appears to battle hard to stay seated. Kevin's dexterous piano work is jazzy and free-flowing especially towards the end, and though a touch tentative, I'm really liking Tommy's additional funk riffs.

BTIKM has a bit of a shaky start with Adam's pitch a little off, but he soon finds his feet. The first verse is very gentle, and instead of belting out the highest parts, he goes into his falsetto. It's also less beat-driven than the single with smooth piano work. His timbre is so rich and when he reaches the climax with his powerful belt it's a prickly-hair moment. Kevin's backing vocals complement Adam's well. Make sure you listen to Adam's beatboxing cameo after the end of the song.

The highlight of this set for me has to be OOL. I've heard the St. Agathe one so many times that the audience screams have become integral to it. So it comes as a wonderful relief to no longer hear those sounds when braced and ready for them. Oh my. Even the introduction is a joy to behold, the pleasant sound of the flowing piano nowhere near as harshly jangly as that of the guitar. I've not heard Adam's voice so soft, so sweet and so silken smooth. I'm usually one for the excesses of full-on wails but this is understated perfection. His doleful voice emotes quiet resignation, hushed breathy and fragile, not whispery but still retaining melody. His fluttery vibrato is painfully beautiful and I just can't get enough of that 'clooooooser' along with umpteen other different examples in the first verse.

Kevin and Tommy aren't quite in perfect synch with their timing at the intro to the second verse. Adam changes his volume and tone to go from resignation to mild defiance as Isaac kicks in with percussion. The little embellishments at 'old' and 'enough' are a nice touch as is replacing the final 'oh' at the bridge with a velvety 'eh'. The crescendo is one that's deeply satisfying as Adam ups his intensity to give us my favourite harder scrapier tone of his, rich resonant and harmonious, goosebumps galore, showing plenty more fight left within.

I've heard WWFM so many times now but this goes to show how every one is still unique. I suspect there was a case of lyric fail when Adam started a 'Just' line with 'I' that brought on his freestyling ad-libbing riffs, a wonderful treat. The ending 'I won't let you down' rather than 'WWFM?' gives the song a very different feel. It's abrupt and shifts the focus towards taking responsibility rather than feeling the victim.

And then we have the first listen of the album title track, Trespassing. It's only a short snippet because we agonisingly got cockblocked by request. Adam tries to get the audience to liven up by clapping. First impressions are that it's a fast punchy song, funky as fuck with lots of with and rebellious attitude in the storytelling lyrics. It's very wordy with a quick delivery so there's no room for getting tongued-tied stumbling over them. Definitely not one for singing whilst drunk! The bassline is irresistible, (having already set up camp within my head and showing no signs of ever wanting to shift) the melody of which reminds me of MARRS's 80s classic Pump Up The Volume but more fleet-footed. There's a sprinkling of funk riffs and if you don't feel the urge to move to this then get someone to zap you with a defibrillator because you must have just died. This is just the type of song I've been waiting so long for Adam to lend his voice to, and my, does that voice sound infuckingcredible.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Trespassing Taxi Driver

Adam finally tweeted out something we'd all been so curious about up until now - the album cover for Trespassing. Perhaps in the days of downloads, covers aren't as important as they used to be but after all the controversy surrounding the FYE cover, this was an important one to get right to set the tone for the next era. This is another Lee Cherry creation at his consistently high standard:

Adam Lambert Trespassing album cover

As you can tell from the title, one of the first things that sprang to mind as I saw it for the first time was New York taxis. It's the bright yellow tone and the way Adam's name is perched on top of the title like a taxi roof sign. But the yellow hazard stripes, eroded typeface, its slant and the way it's angled also have that connection with cars, recalling movie posters such as Gone in 60 Seconds, Fast and Furious and other films of that ilk. It evokes a feeling of speed and danger.

Then we get to Adam's low saturation image, where I'm glad to see hair at his sides, little makeup, collar up, looking effortlessly cool. His complexion is intentionally pitted rather than smoothed out and his face has an intense expression, like he's daring you and if you wait a split second longer it'll turn into one of rebellious mischief making. The way the text sits below Adam's face makes it look like he could be holding one of those mugshot boards, in keeping with the outlaw theme. It's a little bit raw, urban, edgy but also undeniably cinematic, like it's about to burst into an exciting movie trailer.

Only one thing left to say, and that's to strap yourselves in because he's taking the wheel for one heck of a thrilling ride, after which I'm sure we'll all be hailing him.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ellen - Better Than I Know Myself

Hot off the heels of the Leno performance comes the next stop on the promo rounds, Ellen. Keeping his look consistent but in a more casual daytime affair, Adam sticks with sober colours, very little makeup and only a bit of jewellery for sparkle.

The mix is so much better than on Leno with each sound being more distinct. The bass and guitar are more noticeable with Adam's vocals right where they should be. His voice is clear, mellifluous and less whispery. Listen to the velvety smooth sound of truth with that little bit of vibrato. I could drink it up all day. The harmonies are delightful and I'm definitely feeling the fire in this one. There's less holding back from the beginning which makes the hunger for the crescendo a little less desperate but when it does come, it's an impassioned, spine-tingling moment that gets a huge cheer from me.

In the short interview, Adam touches on the two different sounds and moods on Trespassing. He acknowledges his relationship and falling in love before being quizzed about the drunken shenanigans in Finland over the holidays. Respect to him that he doesn't shirk it but handles his response with class. As well as give our dirty minds 'juicing' to smirk about as a euphemism.

A successful appearance and another gem for the collection for this second performance of BTIKM. Within the space of a couple of days, I'm shocked at how much room for improvement Adam was able to demonstrate, but by now I really should know better.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Leno - Better Than I Know Myself

After what felt like years, the performance to mark the start of Adam's new Trespassing era was finally upon us; the debut performance of Better Than I Know Myself leading the new album with new band. This would be his first televised performance as a solo artist since March last year. The pressure was on to give this second era the best possible first impression to do justice to all the hard work.

I'm sure the memory of the AMAs and its associated pressures were at the back of many minds, hence a few anxious twitchings as we counted down the clock. Welcomed back were those once-familiar questions of what Adam would wear, how he'd be styled, how the staging would work, what vocal nuances would be added to the live performance, how the live instrumentals would differ from the single.

Judging by what we know of the album so far and having seen the single cover, it comes as no surprise that Adam is fresh-faced with minimal make-up, and high hair (thankfully without the Kim Jong-Un shaved sides) that has a roughed-up texture in line with a lower maintenance look. It's one that's austere, his outfit monochrome without a single speck of glitter, rhinestone or feather in sight. His shirt collar looks a dog collar, giving the impression of being a bit restrained. There's no tie, which I would have been tempted by to add a splash of colour, and even the suit, the cut of which is rather straight, has no sheen so it's left to the few pieces of jewellery to remind us of his Glambert roots. He looks beautiful, understated and chic.

He's joined by band members Ashley Dzerigian on bass (who had to crouch for much of the time due to a failed strap), Isaac Carpenter on drums, Kevin Hastings on keys and Tommy Joe Ratiff on guitar.

The introduction still reminds me a bit of a church organ and once we get a close-up of Adam, his translucent ears reveal the absence of ear monitors. When I heard this on the stream, I thought his voice at the start was more tentative than usual in the weaker part of his range, whispery rather than allowing the space to be melodic. As well as nerves, I think a small part of it's down to his voice getting a bit lost in the mix, especially in the chorus so I've amped it up here just a smidgen. It's sung in a lower key than the single and Adam retains the some of the grainy timbre which is my absolute favourite. He sounds more confident as the song goes on and at the bridge, we get to hear Kevin's backing vocals, the harmonies of which are spot-on.

It's when we get nearer the end of the song that things get really exciting for me. Like I've been watching and waiting for Adam to let rip, and I can see it in his body that he's been itching for it too so when it does happen, it's like a release. Wow. I feel like those cockatoo crest feathers when they rise. We see the tongue lick out and hear the accompanying notes, splendid and powerful. I'm sure his unintended stint at method acting over the winter prepared him well for performing BTIKM, enabling him to emote the song to a different level. I get the feeling he still holds back a touch though, as he resists elaborating those runs and reaching even higher. This is an accomplished performance, leaving the impression of being quietly self-assured. After the excesses of the first era, this "less is more" theme is going to take a bit of getting used to because I just can't wait for more.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Amway Shanghai

I'd been waiting ages for this, wondering if we would ever get any video but our ninjas came good in the end with snippets of FYE, DTRH, Strut, TCB and IIHY. Adam performed a long set to a receptive audience at this corporate event, but we have nothing yet for Sleepwalker, WWFM, SFW, Fever, Aftermath, MA and MW.

Decked out in an unadorned black leather jacket with plain black T-shirt and intriguing paint-spattered jeans, it's great to hear his voice still in fine form. Listen out for the powerful and intricate trills during DTRH.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year, New Look, New Site

I'd like to wish you all the very best for 2012. I hope you like the new look site. The glam space theme felt a bit dated and doesn't reflect where Adam is now so I thought it necessary to give it a makeover. It has a bleaker, rawer feel to line up with the new era.

You haven't heard much from me recently because I've been working on a companion site Adam Lambert Performances. It's a blog with videos of every single Adam Lambert performance, where there are no opinions, no photos, no gossip and no bullshit. You could say it's a sterile version of this, where Adam's performances alone make all the necessary statements.

Why? I hear you ask. Well I wanted to create somewhere for potential fans to watch Adam Lambert's body of work without being put off by ardent fan behaviour or tabloid gossip. If you want to introduce someone to Adam with an open mind, send them over. If you have music snob friends who can't get past certain things, send them over. It's meant as an objective reference with focus on factual details rather than emotional responses and opinions. I hope you'll find it a useful addition to the vast riches of Adam sites you frequent.

Adam Lambert Performances

This site will still be running in parallel and I'll be adding my commentary here when I can. 2012 promises to be an exciting year assuming it doesn't mean the end of the world, and even if that's the case, at least we'll have TfM to put a positive spin on things! Thank you for your support and I look forward to enjoying Adam's new music and performances with you all in the new year.