NEW YORK — Adam Lambert brought the drama, the voice to a sold-out two-night stint at New York City's Nokia Theatre, stopping in Times Square on his Glam Nation Tour. Lambert aimed for spectacle with video screens, backup dancers and extravagant costumes and makeup. But as cool as the lasers were, all the bells and whistles were no match for the glam-pop star's vocal fireworks, which were in top-notch condition on his Tuesday and Wednesday dates. His pitch-perfect pipes proved to be the real star of the show.
Pulling liberally from his debut For Your Entertainment, the singer whipped concertgoers into a frenzy during uptempo numbers like the fan fave "Strut," Lady Gaga-leftover "Fever" and current single "If I Had You." Yet he also managed to maintain the crowd's attention even as he slowed things down for an extended acoustic set that featured a stripped-down take on his biggest hit, "Whataya Want From Me."
In fact, the audience was so enamored with the magnetic performer on Tuesday night that one could hear a pin drop during an especially quiet moment as Lambert sang the theatrical "Soaked" — save for one drunken patron screaming out the name of singer Klaus Nomi. (You can't fault the inebriated gentleman. At times, the Muse-penned number sounded a lot like an aria Nomi would have performed 30 years ago, back when he was an East Village staple.)
Wednesday night's audience was especially raucous. The energy in the venue extended from the back row all the way to the front where a group of good-looking young men planted themselves, glued to Adam's every move.
On both nights — performing identical set lists — Adam boldly opened his hour-long show with a medley that included a deep cut from a remix EP and an iTunes bonus track ("Voodoo" and "Down the Rabbit Hole," respectively), before transitioning into the Johnny Cash "Ring of Fire" cover that earned him millions of fans on "American Idol" in 2009. He closed the night by revisiting two more "Idol" numbers: a sped-up, almost jubilant "Mad World" and a slowed-down, slinky "Whole Lotta Love" that dripped with sexuality, as well as killer musicianship from his winning band.
Besides "Whole Lotta Love" and a quick face-lick with his "glitterbaby," bassist Tommy Joe Ratliff Tuesday night, Lambert's onstage antics were relatively tame. Adam may want to reconsider his promise of a "family-friendly tour" given that his fans screamed loudest the few times Glam Nation pushed the envelope, including one brief moment Wednesday night when Adam simulated masturbation with a cane.
Back in February, the last time Adam played New York City, he licked a fan's camera and was groped by grab-happy spectators. This week, the only time Adam got touchy-feely with the audience was on an emotional level, following up a soaring "Sleepwalker" by opening up about past relationships. Actually, Lambert channeled Dr. Phil several times during the show, doling out self-help platitudes any chance he got. By sharing about his life (and perhaps oversharing about how a dance move hurt his man-parts), the glittery star brought himself down to earth.
After all, when Adam Lambert sings, it's out of this world.
The Glam Nation Tour will continue to rock through the summer and into September. If you were one of the lucky ones who bought tickets before they sold out, make sure to get there early for Allison Iraheta's blink-and-you-miss-it-totally-killer opening set. Australian singer/songwriter Orianthi also opens. What did you think of Adam's two-night stand in New York City? Share your reviews in the comments!