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Adam Lambert kicks off rehearsals for American Music Awards

November 19, 2009 |  5:59 pm


Rehearsals started today for the American Music Awards and the first to test out the mammoth stage at Nokia Theatre was Adam Lambert, the ebony-haired runner-up in last season’s batch of “American Idol” contestants. With his new album, the obsequiously titled “For Your Entertainment,” out vamping the streets this week, Lambert will showcase the Dr. Luke-penned title song for his Sunday night performance at the audience-selected award show.

For about five minutes, this reporter was allowed to write notes from a cushy blue chair in the audience during Lambert’s rehearsal, watching as dancers sashayed across the floor in spangly harem pants, leotards with torn tights and in one particular eye-catching costume, leather pants topped off with a few leather suspender-straps and silvery chains on an otherwise bare-chested male dancer. A Lambert performance, we were reminded, is not a place for demure displays of postmodern dance. As for the panther himself, he took a few leisurely leaps to various levels of scaffolding, singing into a phantom mic and writhing with whatever dancer was around. On the top level of the scaffolding, a band of indeterminate numbers played keyboards, a flying V guitar and other gadgets, all of which collude to formulate the glam-rock pyramid that Lambert mightily prays to on a seemingly daily basis.

And then we were kicked out, in the oft-fickle ways of rock star management. And then we waited an hour or so, nibbling Panda Express and text messaging friends. At long last, we got a few words with Lambert himself, who has the dashing good looks of a soap opera villain. His ice-blue eyes were rimmed with kohl, his T-shirt beneath his glittery jacket emblazoned with David Bowie’s heavily made-up visage.

It turns out Lambert is feeling the pressure of, um, outing his new material (speaking of OUT...). “The expectations are high -- the audience's and my own. But I’m really excited to perform live -- it’s what I know the most. It’s what I do best.”

Many have applauded “For Your Entertainment,” while others have deemed it a series of hedged bets. What does he think of the chance-taking on his first studio album? “I think I straddled the line between commercial and esoteric. I think the album’s eclecticism is the big risk I took.”

For all his forays into gothic kingdoms and its neighboring fiefdoms of glam-rock, power balladry and rock-god bombast, Lambert has barely scratched the Champagne-fizzy R&B of some of his peers. Would he ever perform something from the pen of Ne-Yo or Justin Timberlake? “It’s not the style I’m gravitating towards now but I might down the road.”

And who’s Lambert looking forward to seeing Sunday night? His sister in outrageousness, of course: Lady Gaga.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo of Lambert in rehearsal. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for DCP