Pittsburgh PA Idols Show

July 27 Pittsburgh,  PA Idols Show

Any yinz goin’ to the show tonight?  Write a recap in ‘at.  Hee.

UPDATE:  Katharine McPhee’s flight out of New York has been delayed due to bad weather.  There is a very good chance that she won’t make the show in Pittsburgh tonight…

ETA:  Katharine didn’t make the show tonight in Pittsburgh…

Susan’s Recap

My Pittsburgh Saga

Part I:  Before the Show

My daughter is taking a class a WVU this summer, so after her class, we left Morgantown to head for Pittsburgh.   I had not been in the downtown (4 syllable word for Pittsburghers) in quite a few years and wanted to get there before rush hour.  We were at the arena by 3:30.   My daughter was really hungry so we decided to try to get something to eat first.   

We passed the meet and greet folks receiving their instructions – only one autograph per person, don’t ask the idols to talk to someone on your cell phone, etc.   I am a curious person and wanted to listen some more, but my daughter had food on her mind so we continued on. 

There was another crowd along a fence facing the parking lot with the tour buses and the rigging trailer trucks.   Everyone talks about the tour buses, but the cabs of the rigging trucks looked pretty comfy too.  I tried to converse a little, but my daughter dragged me on.   We had passed the last group of people at the fence when the screaming began.  When I heard “Taylor, ” I apologized to my daughter and immediately ran back.   There he was right before me.  

I love Taylor Hicks.  I love the quality of his voice, and his music speaks to me – “Somehow” really touches me.   You have to understand that I was so disappointed first as a Jennifer Hudson / George Huff fan and then as a Bo fan last year that I had vowed not to watch AI this year.   That was going really well until my son was doing the channel surf thing, and I caught Taylor’s audition.  I made him turn back so I could hear more.   There was just something about that voice.  It was all over for me.   

Because I had absolutely no expectation of seeing Taylor other than in concert, I had nothing with me for him to autograph.   I could have kicked myself for not having any CDs with me.  So what did I have him sign?  My computer print-out with the Phantom’s phone number, etc.   I told him how much I loved his original music and how I was looking forward to his next CD.  He thanked me and winked at me.   I tried to take a picture, but dropped my brand new phone I was so excited.  My daughter was able to get a picture of Taylor, but not with me since she did not run back as fast as I had, and her camera phone was in my purse.  

About Taylor – You may have heard it before, but he is incredibly good looking – incredibly.  His hair is really more pepper than salt.   I know some thought that TPTB had darkened his hair for the DIMYP cover – nope.  His hair is much darker than it appears on television – perhaps the television lights highlight the lighter strands.   He is not fat, not even a bit chunky.  I don’t know why he sometimes photographs with a double chin ’cause it’s not there.   Even my daughter – who just humors my AI addiction sometimes and actually most of the time does not suffer it too gladly – was impressed.  Taylor was very kind to all the fans – especially the children.    

While I was in the fence area, L. Johnson from the Post-Gazette was interviewing fans to find out who they had come to see and why they liked that particular idol.    She interviewed this guy named Leonard who was really reluctant to give his name.  He said “How come everybody gets to meet their Idol, but I can’t meet Lisa?   She can actually sing and doesn’t have to use her assets.”  About the assets part, the reporter asked him if was talking about Taylor (because Leonard was disappointed that Taylor was the one who came out of the bus to talk to the fans and not Lisa), and he said no that Taylor was great.  His comments were a jibe against that certain female contestant who placed higher than Lisa, Mandisa, and Paris.   BTW, the reporter told Leonard that she had met Lisa, Paris, and Ace at a news meet and greet, and that all three were very nice. 

My best friend’s sister is a columnist at the PG so I asked the reporter if she knew her, and she did.  I gave her my name and told her to tell Diana hi.  The reporter asked if Diana would be surprised that I was there.  I am a classically trained soprano and fairly well known as a performer in community/college choral and musical theatre productions, but make my living as a lawyer.   Diana probably got a good laugh that I was at an AI concert.    

By this point, my daughter had really had it with me.  Since I had seen and spoken with Taylor, she was ready to move on so we went to eat at the Marriott – where the idols stayed and had eaten lunch.   Regarding the Pittsburgh weather – I don’t know about the airport, but it did rain in downtown Pittsburgh.  We sat at a table by the window and watched the rain.   It began sometime around 4:15 or 4:30 and lasted about a half hour.  It was a hard, steady rain, but there did not appear to be much wind.   We saw two flashes of lightning at the beginning – that’s it.  Since the meet and greet evidently began around 4, Katharine should have been in Pittsburgh long before the rain began there.   I don’t know what was going on at the NYC end, but I would have thought that since she was in NYC Wednesday, that she should have had all her NY business taken care of so that she could leave right after the View taping.    

The crowd at the fence was much larger on the walk back so we kept moving on.  I heard that some of the other idols had come to the fence while we were gone.     The note that Katharine would not be performing was on the arena doors before 6:00.  It was not there at 3:30.   At this point, I have to say that Katharine is really incredibly unlucky or just completely clueless.  

Part II:  The Show 

We had seats in the middle section on the floor.  The arena filled really slowly.   By 7 there were still a lot of empty seats.  The show did not start until about 7:15, and by that time, most people were seated.  

During the pre-show video montages, it was very evident that there were big Chris and Taylor contingents in the crowd.   Ace and Elliott also warranted some cheers, just no as loud.  While there were no boos at Katharine’s image, there weren’t many cheers either – she definitely received a lukewarm reaction.  

Mandisa began the show with “I’m Every Woman.”  She has a beautiful face.   Her hair was curled, and she wore beautiful sparkling drop earrings.  She did not appear to be vocally pushing at all.  She did the Ruben shout-out with “If I Was Your Woman.”   Then Ace joined her for their duet. 

Ace is a beautiful and very giving performer.  He does move well across the stage and uses very expansive gestures which translate well in a large arena.   “Father Figure” was good.  His voice was not quite as strong on “Harder to Breathe, ” but I heard that he was not feeling well.   His brother was in the audience.  Ryan sat in the first igloo section on the right side facing the stage.  He was very nice and posed for pictures with fans.   The teen in front of me was an Ace fan, and she got a picture with Ryan.  She told me that she had brought a present for Ace, but the security guard would not give it to him.   She did see Bucky at the fence and gave him the gift for him to give to Ace.  She said she felt kind of funny asking Bucky to give something to Ace, but that Bucky was very nice about it.

Pittsburgh loved Lisa.  I guess there were a lot of Leonards in the crowd.  “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was fantastic.   Lisa wore jeans and a black tank top that had virtually no back, just some crisscrossing bits of material.  She had some sort of sparkly things highlighting her eyes.   She accompanied herself on “Your Song” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”  I don’t know where this Lisa was during the AI competition.  She was fantastic.  She showed a lot of personality and exuded energy, and her vocals and keyboarding were excellent.   

Lisa introduced her “best friend” Paris who joined her for “Waterfalls.”  Lisa blew Paris away on their duet.   Physically, waves of energy came from Lisa while Paris just seemed to be there.  Vocally, Lisa showed her stuff, and Paris seemed to have trouble projecting.    

Paris continued alone, and it just was not great.  She sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Crazy in Love.”   I don’t know if the keys weren’t right or if she was sick or what.  Her speaking voice sounded much huskier than during the show so maybe she did have a bug.   When she brought out the chair to dance, the people behind me actually groaned, “Oh, no.”  Paris better get the singing part down first.

Bucky came out and did his thing with “Superstition” and “Drift Away.”   Bucky warranted a “he’s cute” from my daughter.  He appears very likeable, and his voice was fine.  Kellie joined him for “You’re the One That I Want.”   Their vocals were not bad, but the choreography on that number is atrocious.

Kellie sang “Walkin’ after Midnight” and “I’m the Only One” from which she segued into “Something to Talk About.”   Kellie looked great, and her voice was strong, but there was just something lacking in her performance.  The animation and energy that she evidenced in the group numbers was absent in her individual set.   There was a special moment though when Kellie got the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to a little girl named Page who had turned 11.  Page looked at Kellie with a smile of total adoration on her face.   I think that a lot of the little girls who turned to Katharine when Kellie was eliminated are back in Kellie’s corner. 

Chris got a “Whole Lotta Love” from Pittsburgh.  His voice was strong, and the arena was screaming.  He got the red light and flames treatment just like on AI.   The crowd sang along on “Wanted Dead or Alive” – it was pretty bad – the crowd, not Chris.   Chris was great.   He also sang “Renegade, ” and Elliott joined him to screams on “Savin’ Me.”  That duet was great.

Elliott sang “All My Love, ”  “Moody’s Mood for Love, ” and “Trouble.”   “Trouble” was his best number.  Don’t shoot me, but if I were Elliott, I would cut some of MMFL.  It is just too long.   People started talking about half way through it.  That was the only time people in my area talked during the show.   He needs to find another more up-tempo number.  You have to know your audience and the setting.  Although he sings it well, I don’t think the number works in the context of this concert and at that place in the show.   (That said, a more Elliott inclined city, such as Richmond, will eat it up.)

The guys came back for “Patience.”  The blend on the a cappella portion of the song was great.   It sounded as though Chris and Elliott went slightly under pitch at the end, but it was still a strong number.  The girls came back for their medley.    There was a general video montage during the girls’ number, but nothing in the guys’ song.  There was no mention of Katharine other than the note on the doors.   People thought she might show up just to say “hi, ” but she didn’t.  McMama better not make any more announcements of her daughter’s presence unless she can deliver.

Then it was time for Taylor.  Although there had been a lot of screaming for Ace, Chris, and Elliott, no one had the entire arena on its feet until Taylor came out.   As soon “Jailhouse Rock” started, people were standing and searching the crowd for him.  He wore jeans, the gray/silver jacket, and a black shirt with sneakers.   “Hollywood Nights” was fantastic.  He went from that to “Livin’ for the City” and finally “Do I Make You Proud.”  He did the echo thing with the mike in a couple of places on “DIMYP” – really nice effect.   Taylor was in fine voice.  All his notes were strong and clear.  Every time he danced, the crowd screamed.   He did the Carlton, the strut, etc., but I felt he really used his dancing judiciously.  He did not perform at the expense of the vocals.   On his encore (“Takin’ It To the Streets”), he teased the crowd with the harp.  He would act like he was going to play but didn’t.  He did that about three times before he actually played.   It was great. 

The idols came back for “We Are the Champions, ” and Ace brought out the Steelers’ terrible towel – that boy does his research and knows the audience – good for him.   “Living in America” was the idol version of a curtain call and was full of pointy poses. 

Of course, Taylor was my favorite and a crowd favorite.  In a performance setting, he is in a class by himself.   He has a good feel for audience reaction – probably honed during the last ten years.  I got what I expected from Mandisa, Bucky, and Kellie.   Although I expected him to be good, I enjoyed Chris more than I thought I would, and the crowd loved him.  Elliott still needs some performance growth and needs to better tailor his selections to the audience and setting, but his voice was as beautiful as always.   I was pleasantly surprised by Ace and Lisa and disappointed by Paris.   

We got our frozen chocolate mint Pop Tarts on the way out of the arena so all is well with the world.