When American Idol returned to television, fans wondered if the summer tour would be revived. The last American Idol Live! tour took place in 2015 at the end of season 14. When the series was cancelled on FOX, so was the tour. Winner Trent Harmon was able to go straight to work on his career instead of spending the summer singing covers in front of tv show fans.
But, hooray! The tour is back! I attended the show in Lynn, Massachusetts on Sunday night (Aug 20) and even in its stripped down version, I’m not mad the powers that be brought it back.
In its heyday, the American Idol Top 10 toured massive arenas. A live band came along and at the height of the show’s popularity, there were sponsors galore, backup singers and even an MC.
American Idol Live circa 2018: There are no sponsors. There is no live band–which is the show’s biggest loss. The season 13 tour performed to backing tracks as well. But improving the situation this time around–the technician in charge of the backing tracks also plays electric guitar and piano. And finalist Cade Foehner is literally a one man backing band, playing electric guitar on many performances. Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Kris Allen also leant their guitar skills on several songs. Still, a backing band would have elevated the proceedings considerably.
Speaking of which–in an unprecedented move, the Idol tour brought along an alum by way of Season 8 winner Kris Allen. During the season 3 tour, season 1 alum Tamyra Gray was the opening act for the group on a few dates. However, Kris is no opening act. He plays MC, introducing the show and providing patter in between songs. He provides backup vocals and acoustic guitar on some numbers. And he also performs his own excellent solo set. In every way, he is part of the gang.
The stage set up is simple as could be. No video screens or stage props other than a giant light up “American Idol” screen in the back. The Lynn Memorial Auditorium holds about 2000, and was nearly full. There were fewer kids than I remember from past shows. I was seated in the second row and nearly the entire first row was filled with folks well into adulthood. There were kids, of course. I sat in between two daughter/mom duos. One young girl came bearing glow sticks. But the days of the super hyped, sign wielding, security force needing, super stan are over.
Jurnee, who left the show due to vocal problems after only performing a few shows has yet to return. I wonder if, at this point, she ever will. The set list I posted back in July is either really really wrong, or the songs have changed considerably. As it is, the setlist is varied and well paced.
At the start of the tour there were rumors that venue staff weren’t allowing any video. The moment I arrived and saw the super-polite senior brigade working the turnstiles and aisles, I knew there’d be no problems. The biggest impediment to shooting video was the tall couple sitting in front of me!
For me, the Idol tour is all about being a singing show fan. It’s cool seeing the contestants I rooted for from my couch up close and personal. And considering this is a pretty talented bunch, I was not let down!
Check out all the performances below featuring the American Idol finalists: Winner Maddie Poppe, runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner and Catie Tuner. Plus season 8 winner, Kris Allen.
Setlist with VIDEOS
Group Number – Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner, Catie Turner – Meant To Be by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha
Michael J Woodard with Catie Turner, Gabby Barrett and Cade Foehner – Titanium by Sia – I wish I could have filmed an ALL MICHAEL alternative track. His reactions and facial expressions are very entertaining.
Maddie Poppe with Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner, Kris Allen, Catie Turner – Walk Like an Egyption by The Bangles – Catie Turner provides entertaining backup as well…
Caleb Lee Hutchinson – Midnight Train To Memphis by Chris Stapleton – Post show Caleb is way more relaxed and fully able to inhabit his performances. I really came to appreciate his talent here.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson with Cade Foehner – Don’t Close Your Eyes by Keith Whitley
Catie Turner with Caleb Lee Hutchinson – Havana by Camila Cabello – Catie is one of a kind. I mean that in the best possible way.
Michael J Woodard – Maybe This Time from Cabaret & Beauty and The Beast – Michael is a rare gem. Loved this Broadway medley.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson & Maddie Poppe – You’ve Got A Friend by Carole King – AWWW. So sweet.
Cade Foehner with Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Michael J Woodard and Kris Allen – No Good by Kaleo – Cade’s stage presence supersedes his vocal ability, and it’s more than enough.
Gabby Barrett with Cade Foehner – Don’t Stop Believing by Journey – The chemistry between Cade and Gabby definitely lifted this performance beyond the television version.
Catie Turner with Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson– Part of Me by Katy Perry – This performance was Catie’s shining moment.
Group Number – Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Michael J Woodard, Catie Turner, Cade Foehner – Good To Be Alive by Andy Grammer – Anytime the audience stood, I was screwed video wise.
Kris Allen – Idol Medley including Falling Slowly, Ain’t No Sunshine, Heartless – Kris’ set was superb–such a talented song stylist.
Kris Allen – When All The Stars Have Died – An emotional, heartfelt rendition from Kris. Gorgeous.
Kris Allen with Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard – Live Like We’re Dying
Maddie Poppe – Your Song by Elton John – I hear this is a new addition to the setlist? Did it replace God Only Knows? Nevertheless, another beautiful cover from Maddie.
Michael J. Woodard with Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Catie Turner – My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion – Even better than the TV version.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson with Cade Foehner – Like a Wrecking Ball by Eric Church
Gabby Barrett with Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Cade Foehner – Last Name by Carrie Underwood – Gabbie had the audience cheering as she hit and sustained impressive high notes. Also, out of this crew, she’s the singer who really works the stage.
Cade Foehner – Thrill is Gone by BB King/All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix – Cade’s guitar skills on full display.
Gabby Barrett and Cade Foehner – How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore by Prince & Never Tear Us Apart by INXS – Sweet duet.
Gabby Barrett with Cade Foehner and Caleb Lee Hutchinson – My Church by Maren Morris
Caleb Lee Hutchinson with Cade Foehner and Kris Allen – Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
Maddie Poppe with Michael Woodard, Catie Turner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson – Brand New Key by Melanie – Maddie closed the show with a three song set.
Maddie Poppe with Catie Turner, Michael J. Woodard and Cade Foehner – Going Going Gone – SORRY! The camera began running out of batteries here, and I was fishing through my purse for the spare while simultaneously trying to film. FAIL. In any case, after singing the song live for a few months, Maddie has found its sweet spot.
Maddie Poppe with Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Kris Allen – Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog – This is Maddie’s jam.
Group Number – Kris Allen & Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner, Catie Turner – There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes – And a BIG FINISH!