The Trip and Concert of Awesome

Pre-show Time at the Orpheum in LA

April 1st to 3rd in LA for a concert!!!!

Because it’s a new year and so many things have changed for the better, when Adam Lambert announced his tour dates and the only CA shows were in LA, I said fuck it and set out to go with friends. And I am so glad I did. While he was amazing to watch live, the trip itself was an eye opening and life affirming experience.

Friday April 1, 2016 – travel day

We had planned to be a trio for the trip. Sadly C was on day three of a migraine by travel day, so she had to opt out so J and I were on our own. Since J had a lot of experience with allergies and chronic illness, she was my tour guide for traveling with said issues. I am so grateful to her for all her help.

We flew out of OAK (Oakland) for BUR (Burbank) on a 1 pm flight with Southwest. I got to the airport early, opting for calm and easy over last minute running around. Did the curbside check in, which I have always loved. Working with less stressed people is way more fun than waiting in line. And then apparently I got lucky because I had been given TSA pre check, which got me through the security stuff super fast – and had me thinking that the silly was not so bad. I learned better on the way home.

J and I met up at the gate, got coffee and lunch for the plane and then hung out for the hour plus before the boarding. I did miss a memo and forgot to talk to the gate staff about getting a pre-boarding pass, but at the last minute we got it sorted out. So J (as my helper) and I got on the plane first and grabbed one of the bulkhead rows. Oh my lords preboard is the best thing. Calm, easy and with the fractured foot it was nice to not have to worry about going slow and careful.

J had asked me a few days earlier if I was afraid of flying or worried about any of it. I said no at the time and once I was on the plane and we were taking off, I remembered how much I actually love flying. I took tons of pictures! Because of course I did.  of the gate, and the folks working the ground and then take off, even video of that part, and then lots and lots of images flying over California. The artist in me started getting ideas with everything I was seeing. I have IDEAS. So many ideas. For the assorted stories I’ working on, for sculptures, for JNL for her Earth Science’s classes. So many ideas!

We landed safe and sound in Burbank, which might be the cutest airport ever. seriously, adorable and so freaking easy to deal with. I don’t ever want to have to deal with LAX again.

We picked up the rental car and worked our way to our hotel, thank you Google for the assist.

Because J and C are pros at traveling with allergies they had the hotel set up for safety – the key words are “Allergen Friendly Room” and “Feather Free Room” and then keep the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so they don’t come in and mess things up. While the hotel lobby was soaked in scented candle smell, the room itself was lovely. I had our new portable air purifier with me, so I added that as well and had a chemical free room both nights.

The only downside was the hotel didn’t have any room service, but there was a burger and pizza place that delivered so that worked out. The included “breakfast” was nasty, so I made other plans after testing it on Saturday.

J and I spent the rest of Friday relaxing in the room. And while my brain got twitchy and wanted to DO THINGS! It was a really good idea to be still and calm for my first day of travel. Pretty sure the foot liked it too.

Saturday, April 2, 2016 – visiting friends and show day!

Saturday morning J and I discovered the downside of the hotel’s “breakfast” and then hung out in the hotel room before we each went off to lunch with friends.

After thirteen+ freaking years, R (who I went to college with) and I FINALLY got to see each other in person again. I also got to meet her beautiful twins. We had a very fun lunch getting caught up on life and then the kids and I agreed that naps were called for R dropped me back at the hotel where I promptly put my foot up and did more of that resting thing.

It seriously needs to be less than 13 years for us to see each other again!

After a little more hanging out and resting and it was finally time to get my glitter on! 😀 And yes, I brought and wore glitter. Because duh! I was nice and stepped into the shower to apply the glitter. There might still be some trace of it, but at least it was confined to a small, easily washable space.

All dressed up, we drove over to downtown LA to meet up with two fellow Adam fans at the Orpheum and then next door for dinner, which was a 45 minute wait because ALL the Glamberts had the same idea. But it since we had an easy hour before the show was due to start, it all worked out. There was a rush just as we were being seated, of folks getting in line to go into the theater which just seemed odd to us since the whole show was reserved seats, not a crush to get in and grab that perfect spot at the front. But to each their own. I had an awesome burger and pleasant company.

The Orpheum is one of those Grand Dame theaters of the good old days, like the Foz and the Paramount in Oakland, with gorgeous decorated plaster work and beautiful carvings. She’s a 2K seat house with amazing sight lines. Our seats were almost at the back of the Orchestra and on far right aisle and they were still fantastic. As the one with the aisle seat, I probably had the least obstructed view, which didn’t hurt. And while Lambert and his crew looked kind of squished because of the distance, it was still close enough to feel like we were a part of the whole party. Since the show was designed to feel like a dance party, that all worked quite well.

Alex Newell, of Project Glee and Glee fame, was the opening act. I liked Alex on both shows, so I was happy to see him in this spot. His half hour was a mix of cheerleading to get the crowd pumped for Lambert (not hard to do, but fun none the less) and singing his own material. While his voice is amazing, his music’s not my first choice. Still it was fun.

After Alex there was about a half an hour wait while the crew stripped Alex’s gear from the stage and confirmed the set up for Adams. While J and her friends wandered and said hi to folks they knew I watched the crowd.

My people-watching led to crew-watching, because of course it did. Also, our seats being so far in the back where almost touching distance from the Boards at center back, so I had a good view of the light and video, and maybe sound board operators. That proved delightful when they all started head banging to one of the pre-show songs lol. I missed video-ing that, but I did get a general pic of the guys. Because I’m that kind of geek.

Then finally! Finally the last of the VIP/Meet and Greet folks trickled in and it was show time!

The show was fucking amazing. Seriously. Everything everyone had told me about Lambert in concert, and what I had seen at the Queen show in 2014, was in full view with this solo show. He’s a powerful presence on stage with a monster voice that goes on for days. Hearing him live is a million times better than any recording. He’s good in the studio, but on stage he is out of this world good. Combine that with a wicked cool light and video show, lovely backup singers / dancers, and some very good musicians and you have an amazing 90+ minutes of dancing, singing along, clapping, grinning and joy.

From the very begging, at pre-set we have an amazing visual in the staging with four floor-to-ceiling narrow video screens showing a circular constellation map like image in deep dark blue with white for the stars and icons. The screens are then used throughout the show with coordinated videos for each song. Crazy cool lighting and lasers added to the whole thing and it was just freaking GORGEOUS. I am a little in love with the designers. It all worked to frame and support what he was singing and doing so very well. And apparently he had a big part in the design process and then hired great people to bring the ideas to life.

I really liked his backing band. I’m kind of in-crush with Darwin, the bassist. There was just something about him that radiated joy and contentment. I dunno. 🙂 And I like the new guitar player (long story that gets weirder depending on which part of fandom you talk to), who is also named Adam. The guy is so damn grounded and centered. I got the feeling he could stand in just about any storm and play his fingers off without getting blown over… which might actually be an ideal job description for being a guitar or bassist for Lambert. And he looks good in silhouette / overhead lighting poses 🙂 The keyboardist/Musical Direct, Peter was cool. I didn’t get as clear a sense of him, other than I like what I heard and what he’s helped put together with Lambert. The drummer was sort of blank for me, he’s sweet from what I’ve seen and competent which is good, but if anyone is looking for genius, I didn’t get the sense that he’s there yet. (Another fan clarified for me that the drummer is in fact young both in age and experience) I like the dynamic of the two back up singers/dancers: Holly and Terrence helped keep the stage interesting without being crowded.

As for the show proper, its really well constructed. It pulls heavily from the current album but also has a really satisfying mix from the other two and a couple of fun covers.

Its clearly divided into three distinct parts with very different tones and flavors. The first was hard driving, with almost no spoken interaction with the audience, just one hard-hitting song after another. The tone was hard-edged and futuristic from the costumes to the lighting and the videos at the back of the stage. There was controlled anger and frustration and a drive for more of something “he” /“we” cant quite name. A lot of this I know from interviews Lambert’s given about the meaning of the songs on the current album, many of which look at the 30-something / millennial hunt for meaning and purpose, but the undercurrent of all of that was also very present in the mood and feeling of his performance.

We got treated to an appearance by Laleh, the artist who co-wrote and is featured on the single he released two weeks before this show called “Welcome to the Show”.

Adam Lambert and Laleh

Part two dials all of that outward thrust down to quiet contemplation. It’s him and not much else, even his clothing choice is vastly quieter (though I have to shake my head at the suit choice, the fucking thing is cut wrong or something, and looked wrinkled for gods sake! which is odd for him because normally he’s damn good at his clothing choices.) Near the end of this section we got some talking. This is his spot for getting on his “soap box” (the next night his crew brought out an actual soap box for him to stand on which got him all sappy and pleased by the gesture). Lambert is a big believer in the notion that Love Conquers All. It was almost the theme of his first solo tour (during which he basically ran a love spell to help people learn to love them selves over the 6+ months of the tour). This time it manifested in the declaration that we all share an organ inside our chests that is about love. No matter what things identify us as different, we are all the same inside and the heart just wants love. The boy is a hopeless romantic and adorable. He rounded all of that out with his biggest hit, “Whatda want from me?” And this is where I almost lost it. Of all the songs, this one had me in tears. I don’t know if it was because it was his first real hit and so associated with him from the beginning, and that beginning was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever see a concert, or the way he was performing it, or what, but it just hit me like a ton of bricks and I was singing and crying and laughing at the same time.

Part three was the official Dance Party. Everything here was bright and up beat and happy. The third outfit was way more causal than the others and lighter in tone as well. (and fit well lol) It was all loads of fun and exhilarating. Then we got the band intros and encore – which included Another One Bites the Dust mixed with his song Trespassing led off by his kick ass bassist.

And then we were done, exhausted, sort of wanting more, but needing an intermission lol and high as fucking kites. It was stunning and everything I had hoped for and then some.

After the show we all hung out for a while to meet up with folks – and that phrase alone might be the most defining of this whole thing. After two+ hours of being surrounded by people, of dancing (on a fractured foot mind you!) of singing and shouting, I had the spoons to “hang out” for a while! Lol I’m glad I did because it meant I got to meet up with T, an Oakland Glambert who I was introduced to on FB through a mutual friend because we were both in LA for the show. She looked amazing in her bright Oshun yellow and black outfit!

Then we limped home to the hotel and fell over. Make up off, pj’s on and a bag of ice on my ankle to end the night. And it was good!

I had a conversation a few days after the show with a fellow fan who;d seen the show a month before me and we’d been talking off an on about how different it felt to her and many of the early adopters.

What I see in this album and this show/tour is an Adam who is maturing. We’ve heard that alot about the album how its a more cohesive and mature sound for him. I think the same thing is going on with the shows. He’s growing up literally and creatively.

I see in him and in the show the evolution of an artist, a performer who admits to having a million and one ideas who is learning through experience when to throw things at the wall and when to hold back. He’s trying things and testing himself and seeing what he likes, what sells, what’s fun to do night after night, what works on large and small levels. This to me is a very good thing. And rather than mourn those things that he’s chosen to not continue working with right now, I cherish having been able to see his early experiments. He let us in, he offered us his ideas and heart and shared some of his process. He continues to share his journey with us and I am deeply grateful for that gift.

All art is an evolutionary process. It flows, shifts, doubles back and leaps its banks. This is the creative process. What we have been watching for seven years is Adam’s creative process and it’s a beautiful thing. Just imagine where he might be dancing and creating in seven more years? What wonders will he share with us between now and then?

As for the show, there is a distinct difference in feeling in the three sets. We are used to his contemplative side and bringing the show to a quiet mid part and we are familiar with his drive for a Dance PARTAY! But that first part, with its hard, edgy feel is very different for him and us. He seems to be pushing the energy, or allowing it to push him, so he can drive the performance in dark ways during that set. It IS disconnecting in a way. I don’t know if he gets that and is ok with it or what. But I do think there’s a choice there. At least it’s something he opted to try. And it being at the top of the show and so freaking relentless, it all works in his favor mostly because you don’t have enough time to breathe and realize you could leave if you really didn’t like it. And then, just before its too much, he pulls back to something softer and more introspective, and I find that intriguing.

The whole experience reminds me a little of what kids and parents go through during the transition from 5th /6th grade to high school – those years are Messy! They’re complicated and confusing, and can be painful.

I’m such a process junkie 🙂 I actually like all this shifting and changing because that part is so interesting to me. What we get to see of the making of a career, an album, a show and a person!

April 3rd, the return

The return trip was, if anything, even easier than the outbound trip except in one area. On the way to LA I had gotten TSA pre-approved and gotten spoiled. It was simple compared to the way home lol. Ah well, at least now I’ve been through it both ways and know what to expect.

Possibly the coolest thing about the flight home was seeing the landscape change. On the way down, I didn’t change the shit as clearly from green to dry brown and tan. The dry is noticeable once you are over southern California but coming home! Oh wow! Flying into all the beautiful winter rain soaked green was amazing.

And then we were on the ground, getting out luggage and meeting up with our spices. Exhausted but happy.

I am SO freaking glad I went. I’m amazed that it all worked out as well as it did. I wanna do it again and again and see more places and shows and people. Landing back in Oakland I started crying because that moment, more than all the others – the cumulative of all the others – clarified for me that my world has changed. I can do this. I can step out of my comfort zone, out of the known levels of safety of home/friends/local and stretch my wings. I can fly now. Maybe I always could, but now I know I can.

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