scorecardresearch Skip to main content

After ‘Idol’ and Queen, Adam Lambert struts his stuff at House of Blues

<?EM-dummyText [Drophead goes here] ?>

Adam Lambert performing at House of Blues on Wednesday night.Ben Stas

Adam Lambert's career is a peculiarly 21st-century one, having taken routes that didn't exist before the turn of the millennium. It's a good thing that those new avenues have opened up, though — he's a singular talent, with a powerful, supple voice that suits dancefloor bangers as well as it does stadium-shaking rockers.

Lambert first rose to national prominence during the eighth season of "American Idol," when his outsized performances and acrobatic voice redefined the potential of the Fox singing competition. He didn't win, but he made his mark; his first post-"Idol" album, "For Your Entertainment," spawned the brooding adult-contemporary hit "Whataya Want From Me," and in 2011 he stepped into the shoes of Freddie Mercury when he joined Queen as vocalist.


Wednesday's show at House of Blues showed how Lambert's voice and stage presence have evolved in the years since his "Idol" run. While he's still a shape-shifter — balancing moody EDM-tinged tracks like "Things I Didn't Say" with taut rockers like the "Dirty Diana"-nodding "Lucy" — on his third album, 2015's "The Original High," he expanded his voice's texture and range, and that wider palette was on full display Wednesday.

He's also settled into his stage presence nicely, with between-song banter that was just chatty enough. The end of the night, though, showed how his unabashed, acrobatic voice is especially well-suited to the dancefloor. A faithful yet vibrant cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" segued into "Lay Me Down," Lambert's disco-fried collaboration with the Swedish megaproducer Avicii.

The dance party continued with the bass-heavy "Shady," from his 2012 album "Trespassing"; the sleaze-glitter anthem "Fever," from his debut; and the stompers "These Boys" and "If I Had You," which closed out the sweaty second half of the set. (The set list's nod to Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, who co-produced Bowie's 1983 album "Let's Dance" and collaborated on "Lay Me Down" and "Shady," provided a nice Easter egg.)


When Lambert encored with the feisty title track to "Trespassing," a smooth interpolation of the sinewy "Another One Bites the Dust" not only paid tribute to Lambert's other gig, it showed how he can easily shape-shift from celebrated pop star to flamboyant rock frontman in the blink of an eye.

Adam Lambert

With Alex Newell. At House of Blues, Wednesday

Maura Johnston can be reached at