Review by Daz Gale
A lot has changed since Adam Lambert last headlined his own solo concert in London. Apart from a worldwide pandemic, he has gone from strength to strength touring with Queen as their tours kept getting bigger and better. After his planned biggest UK solo show in 2020 was cancelled due to lockdowns, he finally returned to London in his own right for a launch show at the intimate Koko in support of his latest album High Drama. Was it worth the wait though?
While All That Dazzles is predominantly a theatre website, I like to throw in a concert review from time to time if it feels like it would fit in with the tone of the website. Bearing in mind he is no stranger to the world of theatre (Wicked, the Cinderella album before it was Bad *shudder* and a secret musical project he is working on I can think of nobody more dazzling than Adam Lambert.
Before I talk about the show, I need to admit something. My name’s Daz and I am a Glambert. It’s no secret – long before All That Dazzles was more than a piece of glitter in my eye, you would find me at every Adam Lambert concert not just in London but around the UK. As a huge Queen fan as well, the Queen + Adam Lambert tours have been a dream for me, but there is something special about seeing Adam in his own right with a setlist full of his own songs… or not, in this case.
For his fifth solo album ‘High Drama’, Adam has chosen 11 songs to cover and add his own spin to. A real mixed bag – there are some truly classic numbers here, some more recent numbers and a couple you may not have been aware of previously. This felt like a natural project for Adam to be involved with as he has proved himself to be an incredible and versatile interpreter of other peoples songs. As well as the Queen songbook to which he has leant his inimitable vocals for the past 12 years, his time on American Idol saw him wow audiences with his performances including his now legendary performance of ‘Mad World’. Then there is the small matter of his cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ which kickstarted this project, even if it was sadly absent from the album (and the concert).
As this show was in aid of ‘High Drama’, all 11 of the songs were present. Kicking off with his latest single ‘Getting Older’ (originally from Billie Eillish and where the album title comes from), he set the bar high with his vocal acrobatics and incomparable stage presence. This bar never let up throughout the next hour and a bit as he treated an intimate audience to a whistlestop tour of every song from the album including Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and the classic ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’ from Culture Club.
Highlights from the new album included a rousing ‘Sex On Fire’ which brought the house down and made the relatively small club feel like they were in a much bugger stadium and his truly beautiful version of Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’. No stranger to a P!nk song (she did write his biggest solo hit, after all) an undoubted highlight was a tender version of her perhaps lesser known to many album track ‘My Attic’ while recent single ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ well and truly got the party started.
While the setlist was dominated by the album, we were treated to a handful of other songs from his career. His own singles ‘Whataya Want From Me’ and ‘Ghost Town’ were welcome additions and fit in perfectly amongst the covers from the new album. No Adam Lambert show is complete without a Queen number and we were treated to three here, all in the presence of Brian May, watching from the wings. There is nothing like seeing Adam lend his vocals to these timeless songs with ‘Another One Bites The Dust;’ as glorious as ever, while show closer ‘We Are The Champions’ was every bit as impressive as you’d expect.
Adam Lambert is the ultimate showman. As well as his unrivalled phenomenal vocals, it’s his stage presence that really sets him apart from others. Clearly tired from the non stop promo of this album, Adam didn’t let anything lessen the impact his show usually has (even a few pesky sound problems) giving fans all the prowess and personality you would come to expect from him. Never letting a smaller than usual stage limit his capabilities, he raised the roof off the Camden venue on a cold Monday night. He lived up to the albums title of High Drama in unexpected ways, even ripping his trousers at one point when the excitement proved too much (We’ve all been there).
There is something about seeing Adam Lambert perform live that reminds me just why I love live music and performance in general. While I myself am no stranger to his live shows, it was my partners first time seeing him in person – the fact he was a converted Glambert by the end of the show was a testament to Adams winning nature. A performer at the top of his game and perhaps one that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves when he steps away from Queen, I truly believe everybody should see Adam Lambert live at least once if they are able to. With his next London concert in June set to be his biggest yet, it will be another opportunity to see not just the High Drama but the High Quality that is an Adam Lambert performance.
I’m A Man
Holding Out For A Hero
Whataya Want From Me
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
Mad About The Boy
I Can’t Stand The Rain
Sex On Fire
Another One Bites The Dust
Stone Cold Crazy
We Are The Champions
Keep up to date with future Adam Lambert shows at adamlambert.net