Adam Lambert and The Drums electrify Johannesburg
It was one night of craziness.
US pop sensation Adam Lambert hit South African shores with one big gay bang and brought the house down at Johannesburg's Coca-Cola Dome on Friday night.
Let me say this; I am not particularly a fan of Lambert. But I have to admit, this showman is bloody talented. His voice is stunning and his entertainment factor is through the roof. I've been to some epic shows and this one, even with its basic artist-dance troupe setup, was up there with one of the greats.
30-year-old Lambert was the runner-up in the eighth season of reality music show American Idol in 2009, and shot to fame with his first album For Your Entertainment. His latest album, Trespassing, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling more than 77 000 copies. But enough about his achievements.
The biggest to date is that he is a natural born entertainer in glorious theatricality who can get anyone on their feet - even me in all my rock puritan snobbery.
With just two dancers, two awesomely fat momma backup singers and a full band behind him, Lambert gave an electrifying performance that will stick with me for years to come.
But what I like most about him is that he's an icon for the young gay community. I am in no way comparing him to Freddie Mercury musically - that's just silly - but in terms of being a voice for youth in a world that hates homosexuality.
I have so much respect for what he stands for. He's out and proud, and embraces his sexuality with his performances and activism, with no shame at all for who he is. Many gay artists leave their sexuality as by-the-way in their careers. Lambert uses it. The fact that the crowd was the pink parade and then some showed that Lambert is an symbol of gay pride. He embraces it with every performance.
And it's real. It's not put on, it's not for the sake of it and it's coming from a truly genuine place, fuelled by real experience.
Gaga stands up for gay rights. So does Madonna and many other artists. But they don't live the reality that Lambert does - being the one ostracised by politicians and narrow-minded groups of individuals. The politics behind his homosexuality is something that straight artists will never come close to. The fact that straight people are standing up for gay rights is great, but this generation needed a face to put to the cause and Lambert is it.
I love him for that. His fame and philanthropy allows for broader representation of the LGBTI community in the entertainment industry.
His absolutely fabulousness aside, Lambert is one hell of a musician. I think I'm going to buy his albums now. Even if only to dance around to at home.
Lambert performing Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way live in Johannesburg:
Durban's very own Toya Delazy opened for Lambert. She is up and coming, and her album Due Drop is certainly an entertaining introduction to this funky somewhat hipster performer. Her energy on stage is so good, and the only thing I hope she does is develop that ability to sing and dance at the same time.
It takes years of practice to get that right and she needs to find her groove on stage before she's successful with this. For now, she should leave the dancing to her very capable troupe, and focus on letting people get to know her music and her live persona. Every artist needs to find that balance.
Other than that, watch out for Toya Delazy. She's going to be a force to be reckoned with if she plays her cards right. I am definitely rooting for her, and not just because she's from my Alma Mater UKZN.
On the other side of the city, Newtown was hopping to the sound of The Drums.
I walked in a bit late to local act Desmond and the Tutus doing their usual crazy-silly set, which always has me dancing and singing along.
I didn't know what to expect from The Drums. An indie pop band from Brooklyn, New York, this band intrigued me from the start. I like the music, but I was dubious as to whether this almost innocent-cute novelty could be effectively translated to a live performance.
I was underwhelmed by the sound but nicely surprised that they gave a good stage show, which had Newtown's Bassline rocking. Being so obscure, I was surprised anyone knew them, but what I've discovered since moving up to Johannesburg, is that people are surprisingly open to new music - more so than in Durban. People not only know who The Drums are, they know every word to every song.
That means they're doing something right.
After one night of madness, sore feet and hands aching from trying to capture every awesome moment, I went home, bought The Drums' self-titled debut album and their second album Portamento on iTunes and passed out on the couch.
It took me all weekend to recover. Two shows, four great performances and two parties that rocked my world. Good God, I love my job.