July 12 Hershey, PA Idols Show

Check out Gray Charles recap of the Albany show last night.  I think you’ll like it.

Leighann’s recap of the Hershey Show:

Let me spare you the suspense – the American Idol Live Tour is not controversial, surprising, or a whole lot different than what was seen on television during this past season of the show. Even despite runner-up Katharine McPhee’s mysterious absence (the official word is that she’s suffering from severe laryngitis), the show itself is completely predictable, smooth, and fantastically cheesy. I loved every minute of it.

Mandisa, the fabulous gospel-esque singer of the group, started off with a bang and got the overly conservative crowd on their feet. What did I expect from a crowd full of Pennsylvanians, many of who are from Lancaster County? There were far more uptight parents than kids, and those that were actually trying to enjoy the show were soon shot down with screams of, “Sit down!” and “Put down the sign!” Let’s see, last time I checked, we were at a concert, not a Bush rally. [Note: The editors took this part out of the final printed version – what has happened to freedom of speech?]

Back to the point. As expected, all of the Idols sang their cuts from the American Idol Encores CD, with the stand-out performances being Mandisa, the first to perform, with her opening rendition of “I’m Every Woman” and Elliott Yamin, one of the few Idol contestants with no performance background, during his version of “Moody’s Mood for Love.”

Ace Young, the hunky heartthrob, was also a pleasant surprise, with his vocals sounding better than I remembered from the show. It probably didn’t hurt that he performed a mini striptease during one of his songs and pulsed his chest to the beat of the George Michael’s “Father Figure.” What can I say?

Lisa Tucker, after getting a lot of slack for being “boring”, also shone in my eyes. Since when did sitting at a piano become boring? The truth is, Tucker is one of the best voices in the pack. She sang two Elton John tunes, “Your Song” and “Someone Save My Life Tonight, ” both while picking away at the keyboard. Now, that’s music. What she lacked in personality (and that could be blamed on her youth), she more than made up for in song choices and pure talent.

And God Bless Bucky Covington. For all his horribly geeky dance moves and ridiculously ugly cowboy hats, the boy is oozing with charm.

I could’ve done without Kellie Pickler and the inch-thick makeup on her face. She joked that “your town is, like, the Hershey capitol of the world, right?” Spare me. Her voice was overshadowed by her blatant concentration on the horrible choreography. It was more than obvious that the moves were made purposely simple for Pickler, and yet, somehow, she still managed to screw them up.

Chris Daughtry, the rocker, received a warm welcome when he began the second half of the show. The crowd went wild for his dull, lifeless performances. His version of “Wanted Dead or Alive” was not even close to being as great as the original, and come on, would it kill him to smile?

Yamin was the most enjoyable performance of the evening. Not only was he the most genuinely excited to be there, his vocals were surprisingly professional, even if his stage presence is slightly amateur. His grizzly chops on Elvis’s “Trouble” were right on, and there is no better song for him to sing than James Moody’s “Moody’s Mood for Love.”

Taylor Hicks, the winner, rounded off the night, after a boys only rendition of Guns N Roses’s, “Patience, ” dedicated to McPhee in her absence. Hicks sang a whopping eight songs – a full set in itself – and for anyone who is a true lover of music, he couldn’t have picked better song choices. From the 60s tune, “Sweet Soul Music, ” to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On, ” Hicks’ love of music was evident and contagious.

Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without an all-out, Brady Bunch performance involving the entire cast, but they could’ve picked something better than “Living In America.” I suppose I have to take what I can get.

And then, just as quickly as they arrived, the Idols disappeared into the shadows.

All in all, the show was worth the two hours spent, even though none of the Idols have the potential to carry a concert on their own, at least not at this point in their careers. Even Hicks, the reigning American Idol, has a long way to go without seeming dependent on his co-performers. So while I might not rush to see any of the Idols alone in concert, I’d see the group together again in a second. Why? Without the childish appeal of the American Idol brand, all of the contestants seem more like reality than reality-television. And let’s face it – real life is boring. That’s why people go to concerts in the first place.