Realistically, everything there is to say about the Idol tour has already been said in one of these recaps, but yet people keep reading them. And when I was perusing the concert thread, I felt myself wanting to give my impressions, so here goes. Please be kind, as I haven’t really had time to edit extensively. Also, it should go without saying that everything is an opinion, and I think you’ll get an idea of my musical tastes…
Background: I’m a 28-year-old guy who just finished grad school, not the typical demographic for Idol. I started watching occasionally when my mom and sister were into Clay Aiken and then added the show to my (rather extensive) permanent TV roster over the next few seasons. I mainly enjoyed the show as pop culture until last year when I became very invested in David Cook (one year later, I own the album but don’t follow him extensively). This year I thought I was back to normal, until I became an even bigger fan of Kris. At the start, this fandom was mild–I liked Man in the Mirror and was thrilled Kris got through to the finals despite common sense saying he had no chance. But Adam’s Black or White and Ring of Fire made him my early favorite, with Kris (and Allison) as my chosen underdogs to throw a few votes at if I happened to watch the show live. Over time, though, I became a bit of a Kris superfan as he continued to survive each week. At Final 4, I started voting like a madman, and I was thrilled at the improbable storybook ending. Though I think Adam deserved the win too, I honestly believe Kris outperformed Adam during the last half of the show, so it all made perfect sense to me. The excitement of the win has got me following Kris in the news much more than I ever followed Cook, and so I decided that I would give the tour a shot as well. Considering my other summer concerts were Paul McCartney, Elton John/Billy Joel, and The Moody Blues, I got a little flak from my friends about this choice, but whatever, it’s all fun. I managed to convince one friend to go, which wasn’t too hard–she went to the finale last year, did fundraising for David Cook, and was once a Rickey cellcaster! All right, now that the lengthy background is done, on with the show:
Our seats were at the very top of the arena, so I didn’t have a great view at all. I do have a few pictures (10x zoom = not *too* bad) and video fragments, but they’re probably not worth posting. Way up there, the standing/sitting debate is not such an issue: Everybody sat all night, except a few who stood for most of Adam and Kris.
Michael: I liked Michael on the show until the semis, when I realized he wasn’t really that great and was helped too much by his backstory. But his tweets have made me really like the guy, so I was in a good mood as he sang and enjoyed both songs (Closer more than the first). Sadly, I wasn’t paying as much attention as I would have liked because I was texting for backstage passes (fail, though I just bought a Fusion two weeks ago!), finishing food, messing around with my camera, etc. Poor Michael has a tough job, opening this huge show (and it was pretty packed in Boston) all by himself. And then just when you start to get into him, he’s gone very suddenly. The whole show is rather schizophrenic, especially in the first act, which makes it hard to really get excited about anyone as much as you’d like.
Megan: I’ve never really liked Megan, so there’s not much to say. Put Your Records On was not bad, probably because I know the song. I don’t know the Amy Winehouse song, so I didn’t really enjoy it, but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard either. Still, it seems like Megan doesn’t really find the right pitch sometimes. Anyway, like Michael, her set was over so fast that it
was pretty much a non-event. But Michael was much better.
Scott: On the show, my opinion of Scott was kind of like the one I had of Sarver–not that great, advanced too far based on backstory. Tonight, however, I thought he was actually really good, much better than I expected. I don’t know the Keane song, but I liked it, and A Thousand Miles was quite good. From the moment he appeared, Scott seemed to have a lot more presence than the first two. It might be the connection to the piano, but his vocals were much better live too. (The banter was also pretty funny even though I was spoiled for it–Scott has good comedic timing.) At the end, I felt like I wanted more Scott (which surprised me) and was actually kind of irritated to move onto…
Lil: I never liked Lil that much either, though I felt a little bad for her as she disintegrated on the show. R&B isn’t my favorite genre of music, and Lil is not really that good at singing it. Tonight I thought she was definitely in the bottom two (with Megan). Be Without You was better on the show (self-promoting lyric change notwithstanding). No One was my favorite performance of the set, but as my companion pointed out, it was not as good as Felicia Barton’s version. By the end of that song, Lil seemed out of breath during her banter. I thought Single Ladies might be really good because the song is very catchy, but Lil didn’t sound that great and seemed to leave a lot of words to the backup singers. Maybe it was just a bad night.
Anoop: On the show, Anoop was always just kind of there for me–I liked him, but I didn’t really care if he stayed. I tried to be more enthusiastic tonight since the guy to our left was in Anoop’s class at UNC and also had the last name Desai. Always on My Mind was great; Anoop really has a beautiful voice for ballads. When he went to the R&B stuff, I naturally didn’t like it as much, but it was definitely well-sung…My Prerogative being better for me just because I know it better. My friend was a bit shocked by the overt thrusting, mainly because it was kind of sudden and unexpected for her. In the end, Anoop was good, but I would still put Scott as the best to this point, because I really liked the piano, the style of songs, and the exceeding of expectations.
Matt: Matt was my early favorite after Georgia and White Chocolate (plus I come from MI originally), but he sort of lost me after Viva la Vida. Tonight Matt was fantastic–easily the best of the first half and in the top three of the night. Hard to Handle was great; Matt reminded me of Billy Joel in the way he attacked the piano. Georgia was as good as I expected, and then surprisingly, I really liked You Found Me. I had heard it was a set-killer, but I thought Matt pulled it off. Maybe he has just gotten better at doing a set-closing power ballad? Or maybe I just like the song and never really hated the show performance of it? Either way, the crowd agreed with me, as they were really into it, waving arms and glowsticks. Anyway, Matt was awesome and a great way to (almost) end the first half. Oh, one more thing: He put on his fedora halfway through, calling it “something for his hard-core fans,” which I thought was pretty funny.
Medley: Megan and Lil were not great together. On the other hand, I loved Scott and Matt, as you might expect from the rest of the review. From there it was all good: Sarver sounded excellent on his solo, and then Beggin’ was actually kind of fantastic. The medleys sound cheesy on paper, but they bring a little bit of extra energy to the show, as well as some much-needed continuity.
Allison: I loved Allison on the show and thought she should have been third. With the other girls disappointing me tonight, she had a big job ahead of her. So What was a bit too frantic, as Allison seemed to shout a lot of the lyrics. Sound balance was an issue with this song (and the whole set, really), and Allison’s diction didn’t always help. Cry Baby was much, much better, if not quite as good as her singout performance. I worried a bit about Barracuda because I love Heart and have seen them sing it live. But Allison was up to the challenge; she’s no Ann Wilson, but she’s on her way. The best part about Allison’s set was that it really rocked out. Maybe it would have played even better being right after Matt’s (energy-building) set, instead of after an (energy-killing) intermission.
Danny: I hated Gokey on the show (“Put the Go in Gokey” was my mantra), but I’ve warmed up to him since, seeing him more as a comic character than a villain. PYT was hard to take seriously because I was still thinking about Gokey on the show and all my feelings at the time, but he sang it well. Maria Maria was a bit weird for both me and my friend. The abrupt change of genre, the jacket removal, and the dancing were all kind of odd and sort of out-of-place. What Hurts the Most wasn’t bad, but then I was surprised to really enjoy Danny’s speech. He is famous for being inarticulate, but he did a really good job of conveying the positive message he wanted to. It wasn’t like preaching at all. Then I think he did a phenomenal job with My Wish. In the end, though not a huge Danny fan, I had to give him props. The crowd seemed to love him too. While the screams intensified all night, there was an especially big jump for Danny.
Adam: All night, whenever Adam was shown on a screen, the crowd went crazy; it was no different when he appeared for real. Even though, as a Kris fan, I am sick of the over-the-top Adam adoration, I knew I would enjoy the set. Whole Lotta Love was a fantastic way to open–the song, the lights, and Adam’s voice and performance skills all combined to drive the audience into a frenzy. I was certainly very impressed (but not surprised, because that was awesome on the show too, his best late performance by far). Starlight sounded very nice. I don’t know Muse well (certainly no huge music person here), but I heard the song on GMA and liked it. Here I got a little of the “helium voice” I first read about yesterday after a few weeks away from the blog. It continued through Mad World, though that song was still really haunting and awesome. Adam’s best performance, though, may have been Slow Ride. It was definitely Allison’s best performance, as the sound seemed a bit better balanced than on her set. The two had great energy together and rocked it out, just like on the show. This was also when the bra and boa hit the stage. Adam swung the bra around and threw it into the crowd. From my seat, though, there was no way to tell what exactly he did with the boa. Something else also came onto the stage in the very front, though I don’t know what it was or what happened to it; the singers were not nearby at the time. Or maybe “singer,” because that might have happened during the Bowie medley. In any case, the medley was my least favorite part of Adam’s set, mainly due to the choice of songs. The jacket-removing and subsquent twisting and thrusting also got to be a bit much. Lest anyone think it’s because I’m a guy, my female friend agreed. First of all, there were a lot of young kids there; while it may be stupid for a parent to not expect this kind of thing with Adam, it just seemed out of place given the rest of the concert and would probably fit better when Adam is free of the Idol shackles. Also, it just seemed a bit cheesy and theatrical, bringing Adam’s overall cool factor down a bit for me. Otherwise, though, his set was really good and met my expectations.
Kris: I was a bit worried for Kris, because all night everyone screamed for Adam but didn’t react very much to Kris. But when he actually arrived in person, he got a fantastic ovation that was more than I expected. So thanks, Boston! Heartless was very good, though I may have heard a little “helium” here too (plus in Kris’ opening words about Boston). There is a little problem with Heartless, though: I think it is a bit of a tonal shock after Adam’s high-energy finish, kind of like the change in tone from Scott’s piano pop to Lil’s R&B. The more rocking arrangement helps, but it also kills some of the cool vibe from the show performance. I wonder if a different, more high-tempo opener would have helped more. Or maybe his own concert without these freakish jumps in tone? Anyway, the crowd loved Heartless, screaming during the slowed down parts. Overall, the reaction was a bit muted compared to the end of Adam’s set, but the volume picked back up for ATTTID. The song is great, and it really, really picked up the energy level and set in the Kris Allen vibe. I thought Kris sounded absolutely fantastic on it, especially in the lower register. He also had a lot of energy in this performance that Heartless sort of lacked. Ain’t No Sunshine sounded gorgeous–and quite different from the various versions I have on iTunes. Now that ATTTID had kind of erased the lingering Adam vibe, the slower tempo and quieter nature of the song were not a problem; it just seemed like a ballad inserted between heavier songs in a normal rock concert. (Heartless might have felt the same in this slot.) The biggest problem with ANS was that the song was too short! Next, Bright Lights was great: At the beginning it had this very Elton John vibe, and then at the end Kris really rocked it out with the guitar solo. At this point, the crowd was going pretty much nuts for Kris, so I was very happy. I was expecting to be at least a little disappointed with Hey Jude because I just heard Paul Frickin’ McCartney do it a month ago, but Kris actually sounded really, really good on it. The band was a lot quieter than I thought they would be during the verses, leaving Kris to really command the stage by himself, which he did. When the other Idols came out, Kris picked up and showed off a Red Sox T-shirt that was thrown up on stage (I had to guess at that due to the distance, but it seemed obvious). Anyway, Kris was as wonderful as I expected, and the crowd was good too, giving him the props he deserved.
DSB: Hey Jude did a great job of getting the crowd to sing along, and so we all continued during DSB. Kris came out with the Red Sox shirt on to big cheers, and everyone sounded great.
All in all, though I felt a little out of place with so many tweens and so few guys in the audience, I’m really glad I went to the concert. Kris, my favorite, was really, really good, and the others, for the most part, had sets which ranged from good to fantastic. The production also was very professional; only the somewhat abrupt changes between singers really made it feel like a “reality TV event” than a standard concert.