20th October 2010: Adam Lambert’s Backing Band

Glee soundtrack? Check. Kings of Leon? Check. Black Eyed Peas? Check. Justin Timberlake? Check. Beyonce? Check. Michael Jackson? Check. 8-80 age audience? Check. That was just the pre-show ‘intro’ mix.

In the early-to-mid 1990s as an aspiring rock journalist I learnt to keep an eye on several things during a gig. I spent most of Adam Lambert‘s concert at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre last night watching his bassist and guitarist/musical director. Lambert’s post-American Idol career fits a Glee teen audience, with a nod for older audiences to Boy George, mid-1980s Los Angeles glam rock, and fans of Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko (2001). Lambert’s guitarist spent the 70-minute set switching between various guitars: a Gibson SG for the three opening numbers, two Ovation acoustics for a mid-set ‘unplugged’ sequence, a Flying V for guitar solos playing the Phrygian and Mixolydian scales (probably), and a Fender Stratocaster for the obligatory, big finale.

Lambert appears to have spent more on costume changes than on the set. His backing band and four dancers aren’t cheap to tour with as variable costs. They appeared crowded. The show may work better in a Las Vegas torch-song environment, although Lambert’s fans gave him ecstatic, rapturous applause. Here’s what I’d do if I were music director for a day (after post-gig discussions with Rosie X): let the singers go on Marilyn Manson‘s tour instead. Move the Tears for Fears cover of ‘Mad World’ earlier in the set. Re-sequence the songs to have more of a flow. Segue into and out of the ‘unplugged’ section so that the energy doesn’t just suddenly drop. End with the obligatory, big finale and leave the audience on a high note. Invest in some more backing slides and lasers.

On the ‘Glam Nation’ tour theme, spread the love: Take out healthcare insurance for your touring musicians as risk management.