Lambert has the stage presence of Elton John, the wardrobe changes of Cher, and is boosted by a voice that seems to scream the vocal artistry of Queen’s great front man, the late Freddie Mercury. Boosted by enough glitter on himself and his entourage on stage to make any Mardi Gras float envious and jealous, it was Lambert’s voice tonight that made you forget some of his stage distractions and immediately concentrate upon the lyrics and the songs we have all come to associate with Lambert’s flair for the theatrical.
And his theatrics on stage both through his stage riser in the center of the stage mixed with a brisk and totally popping choreographed dance segments push the envelope between both an audio and visual extravaganza that makes you take a step back and collect your breath, then begin to sing along with the singer on his tunes that have shocked, awed and also entertained us ever since he broke off the American Idol stage.
And we definitely got the PG-rated show because of the impressionable youth in the crowd, but the diversity of the crowd definitely shows that Lambert is crossing all type of boundaries and stereotypes to entertain and push his Glam Nation prerogatives towards some new listens. And I kind of like his style of thrusting his views and opinions at you with gusto, but keeping his on stage image bordering on the brink of surreal. But just as you are about to pigeon-hole him with simply a meshing of androgynous music with his tunes like “Strut” and “For Your Entertainment“, Lambert whirls you into a 180 degree turn and pushes your ears and eyes into another defined direction. And that is the reason I can see Lambert being pushed into the mold or direction of the always theatrical Mercury.
Sometimes his musical mannerisms and moves on stage did seem to play more towards Broadway than pop culture. But if you are not entertained at a Lambert show, then you came into it with a closed mind. He reminds me of some of the classic 80’s groups like The Pet Shop Boys or even Depeche Mode in his booming bass lines and rhythms that take you beyond the lyrics. If you are not into club music or have an allergy for glitter, than Lambert will not be your cup of tea. But as someone who has pushed his way through the Punk Rock stereotype and the epic explosion of experimental techno music and electronically enhanced House music’s New York minute, Lambert is a lion pretending to be a kitten. In a way, Lambert reminds me of a splash of David Bowie with a more pronounced sensual sexuality about him, but with lyrics that catch your attention and your mind simultaniously.
All you have to do is hit up any music site and click on a small snippet of “If I Had You” and you will see that someday, the whole world could be come a Glam Nation colony. Lambert definitely takes you on a sensory explosive adventure with his music, the color hues of his stage lighting with high accents on purple, aquamarine and even a pinkish burst here and there for added dimensions. This color pallatte explosion of lights made it a bit difficult for some photo shots, with the always changing background colors and formatting, but that was also part of the “Glam Nation’s” intention.
Lambert definitely can put you off by his many wardrobe changes (I lost track at four) during his performances, but we have already concluded, that is Lambert’s ultimate intention. All your sense have to be ready for overload if you are ever going to enjoy Lambert’s theatrical and vocal sideshow. But his costumes were all done in the basic black format of most of the gone, but not forgotten Punk Rock groups. With the splash of hues of aqua, purple and red, the outfits somehow took a life of their own at times.
I was a bit upset that Lambert did not get a chance, or give us an extra bit of magic tonight with his rendition of Foghat‘s “Slow Ride” with Allison Iraheta, who opened the show for Lambert. But even without this tasty morsel, it was a hearty meal of great music and theatrical fun.
I came into this show expecting to be impressed, and I was quickly blown away by the vocal range and the true artistry of Lambert’s band and dancers. Might have been over the top for a few moments as Lambert had to remind one of his guitarist it was a “PG show”, but well worth staying here until the Witching Hour. The diversity of the crowd was not even apparent once the music began and everyone began to sway and use their cellphones to record photos or video moments of the concert. Was a great peek into one of the artists that might help shape the future of rock as we know it today.
Most people who have known me outside of the baseball park, and usually during the off season know that I used to play and sing in a band for a long time, plus have done my share of hitting the Karaoke microphone both as a KJ and as a performer.
It is one of those hidden little passions and talent some people know about, and other find out through the grapevine or by accident step into a bar you are playing at the time.
And that is one of the reason I have always had a liking for the rocker chicks who perform on shows like American Idol. I am a huge closet Alternative and Rock guy who has done everything from Depeche Mode to Journey on stage. I do it not for the chick and ego, nut it is my calming force, the place I head to if life get too hard, or the road too long. And that is why I feel a distant, but connective bond with a singer like Allison Iraheta.
Most of us know her as the pint size crimson-haired leather-clad singer who can belt out anything from Heart’s Anne Wilson classics, to Aretha Franklin without anyone questioning her vocal range. And believe me, on Saturday night during the Tampa Bay Rays/ Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series as she opened for Glam rocker Adam Lambert, she definitely got the party started right. Even with her limited exposure and only one album under her belt, Iraheta had her vocals bouncing off the Trop’s roof and delighting the crowd.
The way she hit the stage reminded me of those old red bouncing ball that never seemed to lose energy or slow down at all unless you trapped it under a box or snagged it with your fingers. She was energetic, juiced-up and rocking to all types of vocal heights as she performed a half hour set before Adam Lambert was to hit the stage. Heard the song “Robot Love” for the first time last night and loved the bass pumping and wonder why this is not a good club hit, or maybe I am hitting the wrong clubs.
But the one tune everyone was waiting for was “Friday I’ll Be Over You” and she nailed it and was prancing across the stage like a veteran rocker instead of someone out on their first tour. Also had not heard “Don’t Waste The Pretty” before and might be headed to Best Buy soon and getting myself a new CD for the old collection. She performed “Still Breathing” and I could almost see a bit of the range and vocal talents of Gwen Stefani hidden inside her ready to unleash its carnage on the World.
Irahetamight have been an opening act, but she definitely showed all of us her name will be heard a lot in the future with her rasp voice that reminds me a little of Janis Joplin with a hint of Joni Mitchell for good measures.
And that is high praise when you consider Iraheta’s age and that she is growing more and more in talent and abilities every day. And she is also a cross-over star being bi-lingual and could be a budding star in both English and Spanish recording.
But I guess the best praise I can give Iraheta right now is for her to Rock On and keep striving for that special place where music and life make their crossroads.
When I was young, my Father used to tell me there would be these moments in my life where everything seems clear and clarity will be at its zenith for a time. Last night, in the mass chaos of extra innings, mutual outstanding pitching performances and the hustle and bustle of players clamering on their teammates like 10-year olds celebrating a Little League title, the moon, stars and heaven seemed to align perfectly to enlighten myself and the 26,906 other witnesses to one of the most fabulous baseball games in 2010.
What all of us saw before us last night was a barn-burner pitcher’s guessing game to their last pitches between two of the most dominating southpaws in the American League. Both trying to get destiny to give them a wink in deciding who would get a “bump up” in the American League Cy Young race. We saw the wily veteran presence of New York Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia going not only for a knockout blow in the Cy Young race, but trying to hit the 20 win plateau for the first time in his career.
On the other side of the coin was this year’s wunderkid, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price who not only got the nod of rival Yankees Manager Joe Girardi over one of his own pitchers for the start of the 81st All-Star Game, but has seen his own stock rising as quickly as the donuts as Price tries to keep the wins comings to (maybe) become the first Rays pitcher EVER to record 20 wins.
This incredible pitching match-up was only the 11th time in the last 10 years that two 17+ win starters squared off in a contest. It was the first time since 1985 that both pitchers had 17+ wins and went 8 scoreless innings each in the same contest. The last time was Sept 11,1985 when ex-Rays, the NY Mets pitcher Doc Gooden went up against St. Louis Cardinals hurler John Tudor, who ended up throwing a 10 inning shutout that night. Gooden threw 9 innings and was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning. Met reliever Jesse Orosco gave up a solo shot to Cesar Cedeno for the lone Cardinal run.
As if you need to boosting the hype of this match-up any higher, was the fact that both Sabathia (19 wins) and Price (17 wins) were ranked 1 and 2 in the American League in victories at the time. This was also only the second time either had faced the other in a regular season MLB game. The first time was Sunday, Oct. 2, 2009 also at Tropicana Field, when Sabathia was trying to post his 20th win for 2009. Price and the Rays derailed that days chance at Sabathia 20th win mark with a 13-3 final that was highlighted by B J Upton’s cycle of his career.
Tonight’s match-up quickly materialized into a showdown between the uncharacteristic impatient Rays, who were trying to jump on Sabathia pitches early hoping for mistakes across the plate, and Price’s inability to get the Yankee hitters to take tasty swings just outside the zone. The tables oddly turned 180 degrees tonight as the Yankees seemed to be playing the Rays usual game plan of staying patient at the plate and looking for misguided morsels to hit, while the Rays, who struck out 14 times (Sabathia had 9 K’s) just seemed to be hoping for mistakes, but getting odd calls and mismatched pitches to start any type of rallying point.
This contest definitely fits into the category of an instant baseball classic moment as two young hurlers went about their craft chiseling and honing the strike zone all night long with Sabathia turning out a nice piece of furniture for his efforts, while Price fashioned his own great masterpiece himself in the process. But each pitchers path in this pitcher’s duel took different path, but each did not benefit with a chance for a win in the end.
Back and forth the game went as both teams made strides that bordered on the verge of breaking the game wide open, but their counterpart team’s defense simply made the obvious holes smaller and performed their own feats of magic to take this game long into the night. And that was surprising because the game seemed to be going at a record pace, but suddenly hit a bit of molasses patch and instantly went to a baby’s crawl.
More amazingly is the fact that if Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford had not gotten thrown out of the game by Home Plate Umpire Tom Hallion for arguing balls and strikes, this game could have conceivably gone on for even longer. When Crawford was ejected in the bottom of the ninth inning, Rays rookie infielder Reid Brignac went into the game and assumed Crawford’s third slot in the line-up.
Brignac worked the count to 3-2 before sending a screamer 383 feet into the Rightfield stands for the Walk-off winner. As the Rays assembled for the “team meeting” at Home Plate for Brignac, certain key facts instantly came out about the blast. Brignac became the first AL player to hit a walk-off homers in extra innings for a 1-0 score since former Rays hitter Aubrey Huff did it against the Rays on May 9, 2007. Brigs was also the first rookie to blast a solo shot to win a 1-0 game since the L A Dodger’s Russell Martin did it on August 13, 2006 against the San Diego Padres.
Most people would think the fact it marked the first time since June 13th that the Rays held onto sole possession of first place in the AL East would be the defining moment in this game. But there were many flashes of brilliance and moments of clarity in this contest. It showed the best two lefties in the AL right now matching pitch-for-pitch in a game with neither getting a chance to capitalize. It saw another Rays bench player come out of the dugout and perform an inspirational moment for all of us to remember deep into the Winter.
J Meric/Getty Images
Most of all this contest showed the true essence of the heart, soul and determination that neither of these teams are expecting the other to back down or go quietly into the night for the duration of the 2010 schedule. In the end, the team that their former owner, the late George Steinbrenner once told me that “the pesky Ray keeps his Yankees honest on the field” found a way to cement another solid performance in all of our hearts. If this keeps up, Tampa Bay will go through a boatload of Pepto by Wednesday night by followers of both teams.
As the years roll on, the terror and the feeling of uncertainty and remorse do not wane on this day. It was the awakening moment of this Nation to the horrors and the tragic events that unfold daily in other corners of the World. We had taken a direct terrorist attack upon our shores, and the Nation took a step back, then collectively joined their hearts and hands together to initiate a healing process that doesn’t seem completed even today.
Today millions of words of remembrance and prospective of this horrific event will fill the blogs and pages of newspapers and the Internet to again always remember this day, and the way this country rose from the dust and tangled mass of our beloved twin towers to again soar high as an eagle. For this 11th day of September used to be remembered for other Worldly events, but now it will be a day of mutual spirit and sadness as we remember those lost and other who searched and fought to bring a positive moment to this tragic event.
Everyone has their own stories and versions of the visual and audible sights and sounds of this day, including a few of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays players and coaches who were bunked up in their hotel outside of New York City awaiting that evenings game against the New York Yankees. They could see the towering smoke and the increased activity along the streets below, but many did not know the cause and effect of this day until most of their cell phones or hotel phones began to ring with the news from worried loved ones and friends.
Paul Hoover, now a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, will be in uniform during the pre-game ceremonies at Citi Field as the New York City citizens again remember the courage, and the pain of that faithful day. Back in 2001, Hoover was just two games into his 2001 stint with the then Devil Rays when September 11th changed the landscape of not only the World, but baseball. As he stands there by the dugout during the moment of silence followed by the singing of the National Anthem by a FDNY member, emotions and reactionary moments in his mind will instantly bring him back to the chaos and the extreme uncertainty of that day.
“When we came to New York, we didn’t even stay in the city,” Hoover told the Courier Post Online. “We stayed in Jersey cause they didn’t know what could happen with what was all going on. I didn’t feel scared, but you’re definitely on alert.”
The events of that day bonded the young Rays as players began to assemble to watch the events of the 9-11 tragedy unfold. They consoled each other as some of the players phoned friends and relative to hear what the reports were outside the city to the cause and effect of that days events. Rumors and innuendo were running rampant in their team hotel with unsubstantiated reports of additional attacks all over the country.
The series against the Yankees was suspended along with the rest of the Major League Baseball schedule as the Nation grieved and collected itself to begin the healing process and begin the enormous task of assessing and reporting the physical damage and begin the healing process for so many around the country. The Rays and the Yankees finally brought a bit of instant normalcy again to the city when they began their delayed series, and the New York populous could make a collective sigh and give thanks for the many who helped build their city again from the ashes of the twin towers.
“There was a lot of emotion,” Hoover said. “I just remember all of us playing, thanking all the policemen and firemen. We were on the line together. When we came down the tunnel, they were all there and then when we lined up it was fireman, policeman, player, fireman, policeman, player. You talked to them the whole time. Some of them were actually down there for 9/11. It was a neat experience, but an unfortunate experience.”
Hoover’s experience was just one of many that day that felt the full emotional tear and angst of seeing his country suffer and also begin rebuilding within the scope of baseball. Two days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who had suspended the season to let the Nation gather and mourn, Selig announced:
“I believe in the spirit of national recovery and a return to normalcy. Major League Baseball, as a social institution, can best be helpful by resuming play at the most appropriate time.”
That day was September 17th when the Rays and Yankees again be able to bring their talents together to help the New York rebuilding process by getting back to normal life in the city and bringing the fan together to focus and feel joy again in the aftermath of the 9-11 events. The Yankees showed support to the efforts of the NYPD and FDNY brave souls by wearing their collective symbols upon their caps for the rest of the season on their baseball caps.
Every MLB club emblazoned on the back of their jerseys an American flag upon the usually prevalent MLB logo to shoe mutual support and respect towards their New York and Washington brethren who had suffered. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter visited a hospital and armory in New York to be with families awaiting word of missing persons.
“If anything, playing again will give people an option to watch something else on TV. This (tragedy) is closer to home because it’s New York.”
The seventh inning stretch became a patriotic moment as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was replaced by “God Bless America“. Red, white and blue bunting adorned all MLB ballparks and the American flag made an appearance with great gala in the stands during the completion of the 2001 season. Not only did New York remember and embrace the normalcy, but the rest of this Nation also showed respect, honor and moments of individual remembrance of this event.
Nine years later, the images and the sounds heard that day are still fresh in my mind. The hours of watching and digesting those horrific moments and hearing the eventual tumbling of the twin towers to the ground still send chills through me. It was a moment when this country felt insecure, fragile and subject to the World’s ills.
Bringing the grieving American fans into the 30 chapels of the Church of Baseball after the events of 9-11 only seemed right. I still have a D-Rays cap given to me by Rays pitcher Bryan Rekar that shows the symbols of NYPD and FDNY written onto its brow. No matter if you are a Mariner, Rays or even a Yankee, 9-11 will always be honored and remembered.