Front Row at the 'American Idol' Concert

Do not adjust your screens─you aren't seeing double. The two women pictured above actually each made their own Adam Lambert stick puppets, which they proudly showcased Wednesday night (along with their black nail polish) at the American Idol concert on Long Island. That's Eydia on the left and Sharon on the right─and Adam and Adam. You can't blame them for not giving me their last names; they are Adam-Lambert-oholics, after all. "He's the best singer," cooed Eydia, who confessed she drove for 105 minutes to see Mr. Lambert in the flesh with her co-worker.

This year's American Idol concert might as well have been retitled the Adam Lambert concert, because, really, the show's runner-up was the singer the crowds flocked to drool over. As I walked into the Nassau Coliseum, a girl in front of me had written "Adam Lambert Has My Heart" in colored glue on the back of her T shirt. Tweens hovered around at intermission flapping photos of Lambert in their hands. It took a very long time─two hours and four minutes into the concert─for Lambert to finally take the stage. But when his name was announced, and the lights dimmed, the arena quaked with stomping feet. The air felt heavy. A woman next to me gasped. It was like Obama himself was about to make an entrance. Only the president wouldn't have dressed quite this way: sequined leather, a belt that sparkled like it belonged to Cher, and so much glitter that he might as well have been a cast member of High School Musical.

Oh, but I'm getting ahead of the story. Let's rewind and see how my Idol journey began:

6:40 p.m. I step off the Long Island Rail Road, and my cab driver immediately wants to know where I'm going. He's an Idol fan, too, it turns out, though the last time he voted was all the way back in season two for Ruben Studdard. What does he think of Paula's leaving? "It's not going to be as fun," he said. Fox, are you listening?! We want Paula back.

7 p.m. The scariest thing about walking into an arena that looks like a high-school gymnasium full of shrieking tween girls? All the shrieking tween girls wearing T shirts featuring Adam Lambert and Idol winner Kris Allen.

7: 06 p.m. The concert starts promptly. Yes! The first singer is Michael Sarver. No! He opens the night with Gavin DeGraw's "I Just Want a Girl" and Ne-Yo's "Closer." The only reason anybody is excited is that we're getting closer to Adam Lambert.

7:14 p.m. Next up: Megan Joy, who makes her entrance like a pinwheel, spinning around onstage. This was the girl whom America mocked, who couldn't seem to carry a note, who forgot her song lyrics and once faked─did we think she faked it?!─a cold to get sympathy from the judges. But tonight, she's got a secret weapon: HOT PINK.

Maybe she crumbled under the pressure on TV, but in concert, Megan works the stage like a rock star. Her first song is Corrine Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On," and her second song is Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry on Their Own." I'm pleasantly surprised.

7:21 p.m.
It's Scott MacIntyre. Idol's first blind contestant also sounds better in person than he does on TV. But during his rendition of Keane's "Bend & Break" (with MacIntyre behind the piano), all the tweens look bored. A little too Brooklyn coffeehouse for a stadium this big:

7:29 p.m.
America, are you ready for something a little different?! Time for Lil Rounds.  It's hard to imagine why the judges ever thought she could be a frontrunner, because she gives the most schizophrenic performance of the night, like she's trying to impersonate a rock star instead of actually being one. And she has a tendency to scream out her songs:

I've seen Alicia Keys perform "No One" live, and Lil's version was, at best, fancy karaoke.

7:45 p.m. Anoop Desai throws out a "y'all" and then bores us some more. Lil might not have been good, but at least she was loud. Anoop does two ballads and Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" (which he already performed twice on the show), and the most memorable part of the performance is how he awkwardly humps the air. The blonde woman behind me looks like she's fantasizing about Adam Lambert.

Some time later (I might've fallen asleep):
Matt Giraud helps us recover with the Black Crowes' "Hard to Handle," Ray Charles's "Georgia on My Mind," and the Fray's "You Found Me." Now I can understand why he got the judge's save: he's the best performer of the night so far.

8:03 p.m. Some kind of cool group medley that's like the best Gap commercial I've ever seen complete with top hats, and then it's intermission and everybody is excited that AdamAdamAdam!! is going to perform.

At intermission: Eydia tells me that she can't remember how many times she voted for Adam Lambert. She took a vacation to Florida at some point during the season, and even voted for him from there.

8:36 p.m. And we're back. Wouldn't it be better if Ryan Seacrest traveled around with the kids across the country and introduced them instead of the generic TV screen? Ooh! But it's time for ...

Allison Iraheta! Her rock version of "So What" by Pink might be better than the original. In another season, she would have won the crown.

8:47 p.m. Look at how convincing Danny Gokey looks as a rock star:

Basically, he sounds like a wedding singer covering Michael Jackson. And he's missing notes.

8:53 p.m. Somebody threw a stuffed animal at Gokey. Unfortunately, it did not hit him.

8:54 p.m. His cover of Rascal Flatts's "What Hurts the Most" is better. But when he gets to the lyrics "What hurts the most/is being so close/watching you walk away," all I can think of is Paula.

9:04 p.m. Danny is done and the ground is shaking. Everybody is on their feet. Stomping, stomping, stomping. Red strobe lights! And now. It's time. For ...

Adam! Lambert! Is! On! The! Stage!

First, he covers Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," and it's the best performance in the history of music. Then he covers Muse's "Starlight," which I think I liked even better. His vocals on the song are like Céline Dion meets Cher meets Madonna—and I mean that as a compliment. Then "Mad World," which we've heard a time or two, then he takes off his jacket and all the Long Island moms are panting.

Whoa, has he been working out?! Also: he's wearing a giant glittery thing on his belt. He ends the night with his duet with Allison from the show—"Slow Ride"—and a medley of songs by David Bowie. There are panties and bras and thongs flung onstage, and Adam gamely throws them back (ewww) at the audience. And everybody loves it. And everybody loves Adam. And now the concert is over.

Wait. No. It's not. Kris Allen has to perform.

9:30ish p.m.
The Idol winner has the bad luck of following Lambert, but actually, I thought he held his own, in his low-key Kris Allen way. His version of Kanye West's "Heartless" sounds even better in a person than it does on TV. He follows it up with a song from the Killers—which, on the second half of the tour, has replaced that horrible "No Boundaries" song Kara DioGuardi wrote. He ends with "Hey Jude," and all the other Idols join him on stage and everybody is waving their cell phones and Glo-Sticks and Adam Lambert paraphernalia in the air. And we all heart the Idols and life and we're all happy like Paula Abdul.

As I leave, I ask Eydia and Sharon what they thought. They say that Kris was good, but nobody was better than Adam. "Adam is hot! Hot! Hot!" Eydia says. "I am telling you, he is hot!" (Isn't that the title of a Jennifer Hudson song?) Then Sharon smiles deviously. "We are going home with him now," she says, as she waves her Adam head in the air.

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