Adam Lambert hits all the big notes to prove he really is the original high at Adelaide Entertainment Centre concert
High camp, high energy and endless high notes: It’s no wonder that singer Adam Lambert has the audacity to brand himself, his latest album and this tour as The Original High, because he justifies the label at every turn.
Like former Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, whose spot he has filled so superbly with that classic rock band on its recent tours, Lambert also harbours an unbridled passion for dance music which is reflected in his solo material.
To a melodramatic and suitably regal overture, Lambert made his entrance with Evil in the Night in a layered, geometric-cut black-and-white smock top, matching shorts and knee-high boots — the first of many outfit changes.
For possibly the first time, the four-screen video backdrop and massive, ever-evolving lighting rig made the Adelaide Entertainment Centre’s boxy Theatre venue actually feel like a full-blown concert setting, rather than something staged in a school auditorium.
A four-piece band led by musical director Peter Dyer — on two keyboards and three laptops, no less — lent a rock edge and some real grunt to even the most club-orientated of Lambert’s tunes, while two backing singers doubled as dancers for some sexily choreographed routines.
Lambert jumped back to his first album with For Your Entertainment, then mashed up a lonesome Ennio Morricone-style spaghetti western whistle with thundering drum-and-bass on the new album’s opener Ghost Town and let his voice soar on the uplifting Runnin’.
The more mellow Underground led into another new rock track, Lucy, complete with an exotic female dance routine and ending with a sizzling, extended Les Paul guitar solo from Adam Ross (doubling for Queen’s Brian May).
Adam Lambert. Picture Craig Greenhill
Having got the “anger” portion of his show out of the way, Lambert returned in a hot pink suit to mesmerise the audience with his impassioned American Idol piano version of Tears for Fears’ Mad World, giving his vocals a real workout as he improvised around the melody.
After the crowd sang him a chorus of Happy Birthday (he turned 34 at midnight), Lambert kept the ballads coming with the pure, masterful vocal control of Whataya Want From Me and There I Said It.
Another wardrobe change to gold bomber jacket and military fatigues also saw Lambert switch to club mode, evoking ’90s house music on The Original High and Never Close Our Eyes.
Without warning, he paid tribute the late David Bowie in a faithfully snappy rendition of Let’s Dance, complete with uber-cool dance moves, then went into pure disco territory on Avicii’s Lay Me Down.
Neon signs flashed and dissolved in the nightclub haze of Underground and Fever, before the pulsing groove of Trespassing melded into the creeping bassline of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust and back again for the big finale.
A reggae-flavoured encore on If I Had You allowed Lambert — now in a flowing Aztec-patterned caftan top — to introduce his band, lead a crowd call-and-response and finally leave us on the promised “high”.
Earlier, “super-excited” US support act, The Voice former contestant Melanie Martinez and her two fluffy-ear wearing backing musicians delivered a punchy, animated half-hour set of crowd-pleasing pop tunes.
Dressed in a white babydoll nightdress with her hair divided down the middle between blonde and brunette, Martinez launched wasted no time launching into the title track of her album Cry Baby, with its Gotye-like plinking keyboards and a voice that was momentarily reminiscent of the late Chrissy Amphlett.
She covered a delicately strummed version of Jeremih’s ballad Remember Me, and there were big screams of recognition from the crowd for the clockwork rhythm of the hit Soap and Pity Party, her bass-heavy R’n’B reworking of Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To), which suggests Martinez has the quirky goods necessary to make her own mark as a future star.