Although Lambert has been on the road since January, Shelton has not seen her perform on this tour. “We don’t want to be this matchy cutesy country couple,” she explains. “He’s busy, and I’m busy. We’ve been married a year, and I think we’ve only spent four months together.” They did make a smashing appearance at the Grammys in February. They were seated in the front row, next to Lady Gaga, and the juxtaposition was striking: Gaga was in full regalia, with a black net veil across her face and a walking stick. “I had to introduce Blake to Lady Gaga,” Lambert says. “She looked at us like we were freaks. Blake had this scared look on his face. I’m like, ‘This is my husband,’ ” she says, laughing. “Gaga was nice. I told her she should have turned her cane into a flask so she could have a drink during the show.”
During the Grammys, Lambert tweeted about her new friend Gaga, her love for Adele, her confusion over Nicki Minaj’s performance, and her outright disgust with Rihanna’s abuser, Chris Brown. “I don’t get it,” she tweeted. “He beat on a girl.” In concert a few nights later, in Amherst, Massachusetts, Lambert held up a sign that read TAKE NOTES CHRIS BROWN and then sang her hit “Gunpowder and Lead.” The chorus begins “His fist is big, but my gun’s bigger/He’ll find out when I pull the trigger.”
“I may look small and blonde,” says Lambert, who is five-foot-four, “but I cannot tolerate men who beat up on women. It is never okay.” She puts some pale pink gloss on her finger and applies it to her lips. At moments like this, the contrast between Lambert’s gun-toting, out-for-justice side and her pink-is-my-favorite-color side is particularly vivid. “It’s tough for a girl to be a headliner in country music,” she says, after a pause. “For instance, I can’t get a sponsor.” She points to her beer T-shirt. “I love alcohol! You would think a beer company would sponsor me.” Lambert gets up to leave. She does her own hair and makeup for every show. “I’m my own damn sponsor,” Lambert says, rather proudly. “And I put on my own eyeliner. A woman’s work is never done.”
Before her set begins, the singer projects a montage of memorable women, from Oprah to Betty Boop to Jackie Kennedy to Bettie Page, on the huge screens that flank the stage. Beyoncé’s “Rule the World (Girls)” is blaring, and the 12,000 people in tonight’s audience (mostly women from 6 to 60) go into a frenzy. Lambert hits the stage like a gladiator—in a short black T-shirt dress with a wide studded belt riding low on her hips. She’s wearing rust-colored fringed suede knee-high boots, and she’s playing a pink electric guitar. She introduces “Baggage Claim” by saying, “I wrote this song when I was pissed off. Now that I’m married, I know what it is to be really pissed off.” The crowd erupts in cheers and sings along.