Back in the old days, driving to New Hampshire to see the American Idol Live tour, meant a trip to the massive Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. But times have changed, and on Wednesday July 26, I found myself navigating through busy beach traffic to get to the Hampton Beach Casino, which sits right across from the beach.
What an odd venue for an Idol show! Hampton Beach is an old fashioned, family oriented, slightly downscale beach resort. The narrow streets are lined with taffy shops, pinball rooms, and vintage motels. The casino itself is on the second floor and looked like it could use some rehab.
The crowd was laid back and casual, and so was security. I could have walked in there with a camera crew, and I wouldn’t have been given a hard time. My front row seat was purchased at Ticket Liquidator for just a bit more than street value.
We’re on the tail end of the Idol era. Just like the show’s ratings, the concert crowds are smaller, the venues modest. Nevertheless, the show the Top 5 Idols put on for fans was A+. I certainly enjoyed it more than last season’s band-less tour. If bringing live musicians meant only five could tour, it was the right decision.
Also gone, were sets, lifts and the big video screens. It was just the band and the singers. The overall effect was less cheese (Not that I mind cheese!) and more intimate. The show didn’t open with the instrumental Idol theme, and there was NO intermission.
The only Idol who got a solid set, was winner, Nick Fradiani who closed the show with a 4 song set. Otherwise, it was pacing that dictated song order, which made for an enjoyable flow. Also, each of the Top 5: Nick, Clark Beckham, Jax, Rayvon Owen and Tyanna Jones each had a few minutes to talk about their lives. A real treat for fans! Idol concerts in the past were scripted down to every if, and or but. The new-found spontaneity was a welcome change.
Kids under 18 couldn’t attend without an adult, which might have kept some teenagers at home (My dad would have been, like, ‘SORRY. Guess you aren’t attending this year…’) but there were plenty of excited younger kids with signs. Jax, in particular, seemed to attract the young girls. In turn, she was very sweet with them, making a point of noticing them, touching hands, etc.
The good news: I got the entire show on video! The bad news: When I can feel the bass thrumming through my body I KNOW the sound will be distorted. On the louder numbers, the sound quality isn’t great. But I took them, so I’m POSTING THEM ALL DAMMIT.
Without further ado, the set list:
The show opened with a high energy performance of “Are You Going to Go My Way” by the Top 5.
Keeping it upbeat, Nick Fradiani, guitar in hand, performed “American Girl.”
Before singing “Georgia on My Mind,” Clark Beckham, a born raconteur, described to the audience how he LIVES AND BREATHS music, all with piano accompaniment. He told a funny story about how he’d throw snips from commercials and TV show themes into some of his performances. NOTE: Video is the performance only.
Jax burst onto the stage like a blazing fireball, with a mashup of “My Generation” and “Are You Going to Be My Girl.” Sorry about the video fail. Jax can’t stand still. Not complaining!
The guy’s got some AMAZING PIPES. Watch Rayvon Owen kill the falsetto on “Jealous.”
Clark Beckham, Rayvon Owen and Tyanna Jones join their beautiful voices in harmony on this stunning take on “Chandelier.” DO NOT MISS.
Jax slows it down for a lovely rendition of “White Flag” at the keyboards.
Jax stays at the piano to sing a slowed up version of “You Give Love a Bad Name” before Clark Beckham, Rayvon Owen and Tyanna Jones join her for “Lie to Me.”
Nick Fradiani, Rayvon Owen, Clark Beckham, join Jax to harmonize on “God Bless the Broken Road,” which bookends Jax’s poignant story of her dad’s role in the 911 rescue, and subsequent health issues. He was in the audience, too, which made the story all the more touching.
Next, Clark Beckham took the stage to perform his original song, “I Won’t Give Away.”
Nick Fradiani returned to perform a rocking version of “Honey I’m Good.”
The young and energetic, Tyanna Jones, delighted the audience with “Lips are Moving.” Throughout the concert, the Idols sang background vocals for each other.
Jax performed Steven Tyler’s new song, “Love is Your Name.” I kept my fingers crossed that Steven, a New Hampshire native, would pop in! Alas, no such luck.
Rayvon Owen was next, delivering a POWERFUL performance of “Wide Awake.” mashed up with “Thinking About You” by Frank Ocean. So good!
Here’s Clark Beckham’s breezy, jazzy “Sunday Morning.”
Tyanna Jones paid homage to her idol, Beyonce with a performance of “Sweet Dreams.” This young singer has so much potential.
Clark Beckham displayed his guitar skills as he dug into the bluesy “Give Me One Reason.”
Clark Beckham, Jax, Rayvon Owen and Tyanna Jones sing Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us.”
Time for the Nick Fradiani show! He kicked off the set with his anthemic original song, “Coming Your Way.” I dare you not to sing along!
Nick slowed things down with “I Won’t Give Up.”
Next, Nick prefaced his cover of “No Diggity” with the story of how he couldn’t get the song cleared to perform on Idol.
Nick’s set closed with his rousing single, “Beautiful Life.” I wanted to toss around a soccer ball! The rest of the Top 5 joined him on stage.
The big finish was the Top 5 singing a medley of “See You Again” and “Some Nights.”
And a good time was had by all!