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Read Jackie’s thorough assessment of Monday night’s Idol Live show in Denver. Make sure to click the link to her photos from the second row.
Earlier this week, I attended the American Idols Live show in Denver. Although I’ve never been the biggest Idol fan, I’ve watched the show since the beginning and had attended one tour prior to this year. Since the tour infrequently stops in Denver–for David Cook in season 7 I went to the Las Vegas tour stop.
Upon hearing that Idol was coming back to my corner of the universe I knew that I would like to attend the concert to show my support and was even more certain of my decision because I am a big Lee DeWyze fan. My intention was to enjoy the show with an open mind to all the Idols and after reading all the reviews of this season’s tour I was sure that I would find that enjoyment. With my second row ticket in hand, courtesy of the many perks in attending the show solo, I was ready for the American Idol Experience.
The venue was an outdoor amphitheater situated southeast of downtown Denver in a large office park. They have around 6-7k seats and then a large lawn section that at capacity holds about 10k. I’d seen quite a few large rock shows at this venue in the past and was always amazed at the wall of people just packed in on the lawn. While the crowd for this show wasn’t nearly as large and the lawn was bare, the seated sections appeared pretty full. It was nice to see the crowd engaged and enjoying the show. People stood up for a portion of everyone’s set, especially the up-tempo numbers and then even more consistently for Casey, Crystal and Lee’s set.
I’d say the demographics were the typical Idol crowd of older couples and families with children. If anything the older teen and early 20s set was less represented in favor of smaller children and young tweens. At one point during the show I realized that there was a lack of the stereotypical Idol “gear” such as big signs or glittery homemade t-shirts. I’m not sure if the reason was due to the lack of a consistent Idol tour appearance in Denver or just the waning of the fanatic Idol behavior. I can’t say that I missed it but it continues to surprise me how the Idol fan demographic is painted but how that does not match reality much of the time.
As far as the show, I enjoyed everyone truly and was glad that I adopted the open mind and positive attitude stance a long time ago. I didn’t mind the more laid back nature of Didi opening the show. If anything it makes it more difficult to remember her set but I thought she provided a positive energy aspect to begin the show. I liked “Terrified” more than the first song but both seemed to suit her well.
When Andrew came out for “Straight Up” I was surprised he stayed on the side of the stage because I was expecting it to be a high energy song. It was a little disappointed to not connect with the song and the performance since that was one song I was looking forward to. However, I enjoyed his second song more and Andrew really got the crowd up on their feet and moving when he moved around the stage more.
Katie did a great job with her stage presence and really projected her persona. Both of the songs were a little similar and maybe some variety would have been more interesting but I enjoyed the attitude and delivery Katie put into her songs. I could definitely see her make this type of record, which is not something I could have said just from her time on Idol.
I’d consider myself a Tim supporter but I was even a little surprised at my reaction that I liked his set. It didn’t hurt that I already liked both “Viva La Vida” and “Better Days” as songs he chose and enjoyed hearing Tim’s interpretation of them. I’m not someone who looks for a big voice but more of a style and delivery and Tim did well on those aspects.
My reaction to Siobhan’s set was the most perplexing to me because I was very much looking forward to it but I was sort of left confused after her three songs. I loved the intensity and passion she put in her performance but I didn’t feel the connection and interaction with the audience. I know Siobhan has more of a theatric style and it is meant to be watched in a different way than the typical concerts I’m used to. I really liked the darker moodier design of the music and vibe of the set, which in a way leads to how out of place “Spiderwebs” was. I appreciate the variation in tempo and it was a style she could have some fun on but that song was such a throwaway choice and didn’t show off any of Siobhan’s unique qualities. “Stockholm Syndrome” was great to hear the guitars and energy amped up again because I love hard rock but it left me a bit exhausted rather than energized at the end of her set.
Aaron was another surprise for me because I am not a fan at all of country music and wasn’t sure I would find much interest in his set but what everyone had been saying about his stage presence was very much true. If anything “Walking in Memphis” detracted from what each of the more country leaning songs at the beginning and end of his set were bringing to the table.
I’m no fan of the group numbers but was glad to see the first six Idols together on stage to close the first half. I’ll pretend they didn’t choose a Miley song and say it was a good performance.
After intermission, I could definitely feel a shift in the music. The first six Idols all seemed to represent an area of pop music with the varied styles and quick change sets. But after the intermission the music really settled into a particular niche and sound of each of the top four Idols.
Big Mike got things going a little slow with “Woman’s Work” but I felt like he picked up energy on “Ready for Love”. I had fun with “My Love” because I like the song and Big Mike’s rapping was a cool little wrinkle in the delivery of the song. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the falsetto in so much of the beginning of the song but I felt like he ended his set on a good note.
Casey was the first really big taste of a really defined style and it was great to see his guitar skills in action. Even though the crowd was really into his first song I thought the highlight was “Don’t” and I actually prefer the more tender performances from him. The guitar change during one of the songs felt a little clunky but overall Casey really delivered a tight and cohesive set. It was great to see Casey in the town where he auditioned and he was able to thank some family in the audience for helping him out during the process.
What I enjoyed most from Crystal’s set was her ability to engage the audience even while in the middle of a performance. What was nice about being up close was seeing all her facial expressions and smiles to the people in the front rows. I’m not sure how that translated to the back of the arena but I appreciated the warm and inviting feel I got from her. My favorite song of hers was “What’s Up” as it really got everyone excited and moving. “Up to the Mountain” was gorgeous and really showcased her voice.
Every bit of Lee’s set is what I was hoping for and then some. The biggest treat was watching how Lee fed off the crowd’s energy and it got him into each subsequent song even more than the previous. I really wanted him to play more because I feel like he was just scratching the surface of what he could offer in his performance. Even at one point Lee said he wished he could play until the next morning. My favorite song of his was “Treat Her Like a Lady” but his take on “Use Somebody” was really special to witness. Lee’s passion and heart is what makes me enjoy him so much but I also love the tone and textures to his voice and he displayed both of these aspects really well on stage to captivate the audience. I wish the final group song was just “Its My Life” because it is just a much better song and offers more than “My Life Would Suck” but again it was nice to see all Idols on stage for a couple minutes.
Considering the location and nature of the venue I well had concerns that it may be difficult for the typical Idol tradition of signing for fans before and after the show may not become an option at this particular show. My concerns were validated prior to the show as the venue tried their hardest to keep fans away until show time. However after the show they were able to set up barricades in a small park off of one of the entrances. It was nice to see a good crowd outside for the signing and everything seemed to go smooth and orderly.
It was an added bonus to have the chance to meet many of the Idols, who were all so gracious and friendly. Siobhan was definitely the quietest but she was sweet with her big smile. Casey and Tim were both very relaxed and took a lot of time with the fans. Didi and Big Mike were great and easy to talk to as well. Of course the highlight for me was meeting Lee. He was so talkative and even more warm and friendly than I anticipated. I was so glad to be able to express to him how much I was looking forward to his music and hopes for a return trip to Denver on his solo tour. I sadly missed out on meeting Crystal and Andrew because I didn’t see them and just ran out of time before seeing Aaron and Katie but from what I could tell they were as nice as the others I had met.
All in all my experience at the season 9 American Idols Live tour was a success. Although I was keeping an open mind my expectations were exceeded and it was a lot of fun just to get a little taste of so many styles of music. It is also always a great experience to see an artist I really connect with in Lee and see him live for the first time. If anyone has a chance to catch one of the tour dates before the conclusion of the tour I highly recommend finding a ticket and experiencing a fun night of music.
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