Alex Newell entered the stage with an unduplicated grace and captivating style.
With one hip cocked to the side and a bold whip of the hair, the night began, Newell’s vocals cascading and intimately encompassing every ounce of space within Washington, D.C.’s, Lincoln Theatre.
The overarching theme of the evening was simple: unconditional acceptance.
Such a comforting sentiment offered a refreshing sense of creative and sexual ethos, Newell’s performance inspiring zealous audience participation and empowerment.
Frankly, there were rare moments in which the performance in and of itself, actually perpetuated itself as such. Evidence of this accepting space could be seen in Newell’s sassy anecdotes or his conversational questions directed toward the audience, his rhetoric ultimately transforming the theatre into a living room decked out for wine night.
“So who in this room has recently experienced a break up?” Newell asked the audience. “Raise your hands high, now!”
Thus was the inception of Newell’s song “B.O.Y.,” or “Basically Over You,” a lament taken from his debut EP Power and dedicated to letting go of inhibited and unkind relationships. Following “B.O.Y” came “Stronger,” “Shame” and “This Ain’t Over.” Newell periodically sent encouraging cues for audience participation such as dancing or chanting in unison.
And all the while, as Newell transitioned from songs concerning independence to lyricism exuding individuality, he perpetuated a constant static of electricity, emotional vocalizations so tangible each note almost seemed to appear within thin air.
In this respect, Newell presented himself more so as his own act, dominating the stage so as not to outclass Adam Lambert’s following performance per se, but to instead depict his ethos as one far more superior to subsequent.
Essentially, he was his own, acting on powerful stance and unapologetic agency.
As Newell’s performance came to a close, he left the audience with his amplified and somewhat signature tune “Nobody to Love,” a cover he declared with original finesse. He instructed the audience to give a “toss,” a quick flip of the hair with ultimate attitude, which seemed to represent a virtual middle finger toward constrained creativity and judgment and an embracement of the unique.
Thus signified the entrance of Lambert, where instantly a kaleidoscope of colors – blue, red, purple, black – completely consumed the stage. Almost as if by magnetic pull, fans slowly gravitated toward the edges of their seats, eager to see the master at hand.
“Ghost Town” introduced his entrance, a song that arguably acts as a departure from Lambert’s earlier work, with its dreamy metronome and pop-laced vocals. And he wasn’t picky – essentially, any of Lambert’s past tunes were fair game. He fluidly transitioned from songs taken from The Original High. However, he never left attendees hungry; he gave them signature tunes such as “Mad World” and “Whataya Want From Me.”
Two dancers, who Lambert introduced as close friends, ripped the stage with beautifully aggressive prowess. During “Lucy,” Lambert’s female dancer effortlessly entranced the audience with vigorous whips and turns, accurately depicting the struggle of the song’s protagonist.
One thing is clear – both performers are electric and complement each other favorably.
Lambert, the director of an unforgettable drama and Newell, the conductor of a soulful symphony.
With roughly four costume changes, Lambert brought his best to the stage, blending dance and passion, and at other times, momentary chats of comradery between himself and the audience. Additionally, the stage elements were ever-changing, at one point transforming into a virtual catwalk and others, into a more simplistic architecture where only a microphone stand could be seen to accompany him.
The Queen had arrived.
Upon looking at attendees, looks of euphoria could be witnessed, where slowly as the night unraveled, audience members took in the spirit of individuality. He continued to surprise with seemingly impromptu covers dedicated to the likes of David Bowie – “Let’s Dance” – and the late and enigmatic Freddie Mercury – “Another One Bites The Dust.”
Because essentially, Lambert’s and Newell’s messages created a congregation, allowing those who may have once felt marginalized or abused to once more be free and proud of his or her existence.
It wasn’t about sexual orientation.
It wasn’t about race.
It wasn’t about “being normal.”
The entire musical spectacle pertained to going against the scope of ignorance, whether it be negative political rhetoric or to those who simply can’t grasp or accept this genre of art. And although the concert occurred in March, it set a beautiful precedent for April’s current Pride Month, dedicated to all of the LGBTQIA+ community and to those who seek educational awareness.
Featured Photo Credit: Newell opened up for Adam Lambert at the Lincoln Theater. Throughout the night, he asked the audience “Are you ready for Adam?,” and then critiqued them on their response- how enthusiastic their “YASS” was, and their volume. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Iman Naima Smith is editor-in-chief of The Writer’s Bloc and is a senior multiplatform journalism major. She may be reached at email@example.com.