July 16 Long Island, NY Idols Show
I was at the Long Island 7/16 show. Hated the set. So cheap. Well, everyone knows the drill so I won’t waste effort on recapping the well-rehearsed and oft-repeated moments.
Mandisa was strong and preachy. Ace was so very pretty. IMO, he is a more effective presence on the jumbotron than the stage. When he sang Father Figure, he approached downstage left to the very edge of the stage much to the excited fans’ delight in the first few rows. I saw a father lift his daughter onto his shoulders during that moment like a bizarre offering–ripe with irony. Mmm. That was weird. He sounded nasal and sharp-pitched occasionally but he commanded the Maroon Five number with a more assured vocal. Lisa was sweet-voiced and played with the enthusiasm of a participant in a high school performing arts senior showcase. Paris hooted through her lower register which bottomed out from time to time. She ordered the crowds to “get up” like a ROTC candidate and performed a strange Broadway musical Chicago meets Hip Hop street performer routine complete with fedora and chair. Bucky loped around amiably and performed an amiable, slightly underwhelming rendition of Drift Away which had an arrangement heavy on keyboard not guitar. It sounded like Rodeo Muzak. His speaking was unintelligible to the NY audience. Then came the Greased Up Hickler duet. Can you yodel “Gooooofy”? Pickler belted her songs on the sharp side of the note every time she pushed her voice and tried to vamp but landed up telling stories about looking for a monument of the “big Apple”. I noticed that the canned background vocals do no one favors and it’s a bit distracting.
The second half improves considerably. Chris roars with a high-octane Zep number. The crowd roars back. The band plays loud. Everything is amped up, the lightshow is blazing and he gets the flames in the background too, just like on tv. This is stadium rock and stays at the same level of stadium rock. And now the show doesn’t feel as karaoke. He’s got a powerful presence, the wallet chain, the stomping, and it’s all good. Elliott shows up for the best duet of the night. He is wearing a t-shirt that has the words Funky White Boy on it. He is relaxed, boyish and charming. The stage lights are not as gymnastic and frantic, the band hits a light groove and suddenly the vocals are the highlight and focus during this set. Elliott’s voice is limber and nuanced. I’ve noticed the canned background vocals are more muted during the second half or maybe the singers are generally stronger. Elliot sings Trouble and one thinks, “This voice is first-rate.” And then he nimbly skips in response to the applause and invites the boys to join him. They blend nicely and it’s all so nice while the Jumbotron shows Kat waving to the crowd from the back seat of a limo…..
Girls number. Yawn. Cheesy.
Taylor enters and the parents and kids cheer and they’re gonna party. It becomes a slumber party for the whole family and no wants to sleep. They want to dance. Taylor performs like it’s a revival and he’s the pied-piper. He even plays the harmonica in a pitch higher than a piccolo. It’s crazy. He’s dancing and the light show is on again. For someone who is so outwardly showy in his movements and performing, he’s a very introverted performer. It’s like the more frenetic the performance, the more internal his involvement with everything around him. His voice is strong and he works the songs at mid-range to keep it belting strong. This is not subtle music-making. He dedicates Do I Make You Proud to the troops and the song is a let down because the song itself is a let down. Yuck.
The idols join for more cheeze-tastic group numbers and I’m zooming out the stadium because driving on Long Island is a nightmare.
ETA: I forgot to mention that in my review last night, but Taylor started the song [Hollywood Nights] on counterpoint with the melody in a higher key, then it looked like his guitar string broke soon after. I think he switched to two different guitars before the performance ended. This was the first time the band was off their game and they started to get all jangly and sloppy mid-performance before pulling it all together in the end.
Kevin Covais was in the audience just off downstage right and a few rows above the floor seats. He was wearing a baseball cap and waved to the audience during intermission.