by Spring Wise.
On Wednesday night (21/9) with great anticipation, I caught the last UK date of Adore Delano’s absolute marathon of a world tour, at Southampton’s 1865. The very day tickets went on sale, my friend, my son and I grabbed some immediately because… well, it’s Adore. Like, duhhhhhh… and my teenage son spent a small fortune on rhinestones ready for his glitter ball tribute look.
Friends, she did not disappoint.
The show itself started very suddenly, with Adore herself! No warm up, just straight into the party.
Adore is, of course, drag royalty from Season 6 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, but her first taste of fame was on American Idol at just 18 years old, under birth name Danny Noriega. I must confess that I’d forgotten just how talented she is as a singer, having mostly been enchanted by the style, the drawl, the goofiness, the grungy fabulousness of Adore Delano: Drag Queen.
Within five seconds of her opening number my mouth had fallen open. The stage presence and sexiness was no surprise to me, but my god, what a voice! Now 33, her voice has a growly maturity I don’t remember from her earlier hits, and she effortlessly filled the venue with sound, power and downright charisma. It was love at first note.
The set comprised a mix of classic hair rock covers, original songs (my favourite being 2014’s Hello, I Love You) and a most chilling and strangely erotic cover of Creep by Radiohead that I couldn’t have imagined existing until I experienced it. The aesthetic was Bon Jovi and ACDC spliced with Courtney Love, beautifully wrapped in her trademark slutty royalty vibe and perfect face. Seriously, that face is perfection, and I must say I’ve never seen someone so committed to mattifying: her powder puff was in near constant use, and my germophobe self can just about forgive the fact that she continually threw it on the sticky carpeted stage only to pick it up and use it on her face because, well… rock and roll, right?
Dressed in just her tour t shirt, fishnets, short shorts and boots, this was unmistakably a rock show, not drag. Naturally funny and sweetly vulnerable, the evening felt intimate and fresh: almost like discovering an amazing up and coming band for the very first time. The crowd were besotted, and the atmosphere was inclusive and joyful throughout.
I generally try to attend as many local drag shows as I can, and as a long time fan of Apocalypse club nights, which used to be hosted at this venue, I’m a bit of an 1865 frequent flyer. As a wheelchair user, the venue has some accessibility challenges (I have to get very friendly when using the loo, as I can’t close the cubicle doors behind me, and the bar is up a flight of stairs) but I’m normally well looked after, especially Holy T productions, who always ensure I’m in a safe spot where I can see the stage just before an event begins. This sadly wasn’t the case for this particular event for some reason, and at times I felt somewhat unsafe, but other gig attendees were very sweet and accommodating, as drag audiences always are.
It was a 14+ show, as many at this particular venue are, and that is so valuable to young queer people. Adore talked a lot about her high school experience and I can’t help but wish I’d stood there in front of an utterly unapologetic nonbinary rock star at that age, and to have known that not only is it possible to be absolutely yourself, but to be celebrated and world famous strutting around on the skulls of every repression you ever encountered on your journey; to make “not fitting in” your most celebrated quality.
Delano’s chemistry with lead guitarist Jensen Silvio was absolutely electric and they seemed to be having so much fun all night. The band was musically excellent, of course, but the stage had a relaxed and …I can’t think how else to put it… delightfully teenage energy. Like the most fantastic high school garage band all grown up. Wes Wexler gave a flawless backbone to the night on the drums, and I wish I could tell you the name of the equally tight bass guitarist, but at the stroke of 9:30pm we were very firmly sent outside as apparently that’s when the venue turns into a pumpkin, I suppose. I just didn’t have time to ask before I was out on the pavement feeling like a naughty teenager. Which, perhaps, was a fitting end to the night. Party.
- In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: https://www.patreon.com/incommonsoton