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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Adam Lambert on having his voice insured, David Bowie, and what to expect at Redfest DXB

The former American Idol star will present a scaled-down version of his Original High Tour at RedFest DXB.
Adam Lambert's image has undergone a makeover in the past year. Don Arnold / WireImage / Getty Images
Adam Lambert's image has undergone a makeover in the past year. Don Arnold / WireImage / Getty Images

Have you heard the one about the pop star who insured his voice for US$48million (Dh176m)?

It is no joke. Adam Lambert took out the policy on his precious chords — and sounds proud of it.

“That’s my bread and butter man, I got to insure this,” he says, as if the singer has to negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts every day. “J Lo insured her booty, right? Listen — this is what I’m making my money on.”

The mammoth insurance contract was reportedly signed by Lambert’s management in 2012 — and one might say it proved a smart safety net. Forbes named Lambert the highest-earning American Idol alumni last month, having banked $10m last year alone.

After kicking off his third solo concert tour on New Year’s Eve, this year could prove to be even more lucrative for the singer.

And on Friday, February 12, Lambert will present a scaled-down version of his Original High Tour at RedFest DXB.

“You’re getting about as much of my tour as I can bring with me,” he says, talking on the phone from Perth, Australia.

The tour hasn’t quite gone entirely to plan, generating its share of controversy — the opening December 31 show in Singapore was greeted by a petition signed by more than 20,000 “concerned citizens, parents and individuals”.

They disapproved of the explicit content of Lambert’s live shows — for example, his performance at the 2009 American Music Awards, the year he finished second in Idol, attracted more than 1,500 complaints.

But in the past year, Lambert’s image has been carefully softened — gone is the excessive eyeliner, leather trousers and androgynous hair spikes, in favour of sleek charcoal suits and designer stubble.

Gone, too, are the notoriously racy stage shows, the 34-year-old says — and nothing will need to be censored for the UAE audience.

“There’s really no need to tone the show down, I don’t think there’s anything in the show that would upset anybody — it’s pretty family-friendly,” he says.

“Early on in my career I made some really bold, dramatic statements about certain things,” he says. “And I’m proud of those statements and I still stand behind the concept there — but it’s not necessarily what I do every time I go onstage.”

One tour highlight, according to early reviews, is a cover version of the late David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Lambert did not reveal whether the song would make the cut in his truncated, 75-minute Dubai set, but was quick to highlight Bowie as a huge inspiration to his own flamboyant image.

“He was so daring,” he says. “Bowie was very much ahead of his time in terms of challenging people’s idea of: this is masculine, this is feminine, what happens when it’s blurred together?”

There is another classic, iconic act that has proved even more influential on Lambert’s fortunes — Queen. And that influence flows both ways.

Lambert first joined the British rockers onstage in 2011, filling the larger-than-life shoes of the late Freddie Mercury.

This year, Lambert is gearing up for a third major tour with the group, performing at 15 summer festivals across Europe, jointly billed as Queen + Adam Lambert (although sticking to performing the band’s back catalogue).

“I didn’t expect it to go on this long,” says the singer. “[Queen’s] Brian May and Roger Taylor are just so kind to me, they’re really supportive and really let me have a lot of freedom with the songs, which I didn’t expect at all.”

Also this year, Lambert will fill another iconic pair of shoes, when he plays Eddie in a live television broadcast of cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, a role played by Meat Loaf on Broadway and in the 1975 film version.

“There are risks,” says Lambert. “It does have a lot of cult value. They’re getting it right by rethinking the casting really dramatically, and I think that’s the smart way to go.”

Adam Lambert is due to take the stage on Friday, February 12, at 9.35pm

rgarratt@thenational.ae

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