I just saw Velvet Goldmine for the first time. In the film, Placebo performs the song 20th Century Boy as a fictitous band, the Flaming Creatures. Adam has been covering 2CB during encores for several weeks. I posted one video of it earlier. Here's one with good audio and gorgeous video from September 15, 2010, in Atlanta. (Adam and the band are wearing dreadlock wigs in honor of this being the last night that Longinue Parsons, their dreadlocked drummer, was with them on this tour before leaving to return to his band Yellowcard.)
Adam has cited Bowie as an influence many times and has talked about his love for the film Velvet Goldmine. Adam has paid homage to both in several ways in his first year of his career. As I mentioned before, the album cover for FYE nods to the Hunky Dory cover. There's a favorite image of Adam, taken by Lee Cherry, that you'll see in the beginning of the video, in a feather collar thing that nods to the feather collar that Brian Slade wears in VG. He may have borrowed some tongue action and homoerotic stage antics from Slade, though maybe that's just Adam being Adam.
Velvet Goldmine explores the issue of artifice in the pop/rock world. Every artist has to find the right blend (for them) of artifice versus authenticity in their work and their image. I think this is a tricky thing for Adam to navigate. He's happy adopting a character and wearing costumes and being all artifice, but it's difficult when you've established a fan base via American Idol to suddenly hide yourself behind a character. He's also personally charismatic and plenty talented enough to not need to rely on gimmicky artifice, but he can't compete with singer/songwriter types for angsty authenticity. At present, he sort of comes in and out of character based on a song's mood or lyric. Fans get this about him, but it may be confusing for non-fans and that may make it difficult to grow fandom.
This video is compelling to me because it's apparent that by this point in the tour he's so much more comfortable and skilled at being a rock star on stage than he was at the beginning of this tour. He knows, by this point, exactly what his audience enjoys from him. As skilled a singer as he is and as comfortable as he has always looked performing, he had some stagecraft to master when he started the tour, and now he's developed that.
I also find the video compelling because of the blend of masculine and feminine that I've mentioned before. The wig is supposed to read as dreadlocked rasta. But it doesn't. He looks like he's in drag. The lipstick probably contributes to that. And he's gorgeous. But then his performance is sprinkled with masculine, aggressive, body language.
Yeah, the "Indian giver" reference is reprehensible. He heard about it from fans.
Update: I should note that for the encore songs (like 20th Century Boy and Whole Lotta Love), Adam is just Adam - no character.