I’m a married woman, mid-thirties. I took my awesome sister-in-law, CC (who lives in NJ), and my almost 5-year-old daughter, M, to the American Idols Live concert on Saturday at Prudential Center. I spend most of my time in Brooklyn and NYC, and have no clue about Newark. Didn’t realize the Prudential Center was fairly new. There’s an arts center there, and also a Prudential Hall. My mother-in-law described Newark as “culture and ghetto.” Got to the arena, home of the New Jersey Devils, and there were people mingling about outside, waiting to get in. I was impressed that people were dressed decently, not just shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. Two adorable tween girls had blue streaks in their hair, and homemade Adam shirts – one with three different pictures of pre-idol Adam grouped together, so he looked like the frontman of an Adamized Duran Duran.
CC was surprised at how entire families spanning generations were there, and that there were a lot of men. We had Section 21 seats on the aisle, which were terrific, especially with a child. We could pop up to the concession or restroom, and the view of the stage, screens and entire arena was unimpeded. We immediately got a tour program and a glow-stick for M (whoever recommended getting this in your recap, I’m in your debt. Greatest thing ever for M.) Loved how they were selling these out of cardboard boxes, on top of a three-card monte size table, like fake Louis Vuittons on Canal Street. Seriously, the merchandise people looked like they’d snuck into the arena and then were going to run ahead of cops chasing them.
Went to the “Ice Lounge” to get cosmos, and then the neverending line for chicken tenders and fries for M. Young woman in front of us was a Danny fan (“I love the way he dances” I nodded vigorously – no comment from me) who was at the before concert meet and greet because her father worked for Marquis Jet (their private plane sponsor?) She got to meet all the idols except Adam because he was eating (she mimed Adam shoveling food into his mouth and apologetically begging off, pointing at his mouth). She said she felt a little guilty being there while the idols were trying to eat. She said some other girls who were Adam fans said he was so nice to them. All the idols seemed smaller in person, especially “Lil is tiny, you know, because on TV her butt looked so huge but she’s small!” White-haired dad behind me said his daughter’s favorite was Kris, his was Adam. An 8-yr old with a red streak in her hair was clutching a Kris photo, and two teens walked past with a Michael photo.
CC, whose favorite on the show was Adam, doesn’t go online and this was her first AI concert, so it was interesting to get her take on things. I’ve seen all of Adam’s concert vids thus far (compulsively, creeping myself out), but didn’t see any of the other idols’ concert vids. I showed M Slow Ride at home, and it was one of the vids with bra-throwing, which I guess by now is more often than not, which made her giggle. She wondered in the car whether there would be bras thrown onstage tonight.
The show started and my cold black heart simply melted and I enjoyed every single idol. M said excitedly, “Adam will be on soon!” and CC and I said, well, almost. Michael looked very handsome – did he lose weight? Eerily, Adam looks a tiny bit like Michael a bit in that high school graduation video. Megan’s voice sounded strong, especially on “Put Your Records On.” The background video on the second song was very distracting. Scott’s voice on “A Thousand Miles” was great, the song suited him. CC and M dashed out during this so they could buy a second glow stick for my toddler. Lil’s energy was fantastic, and M sang along to “No One.” She looked like a star. Both Megan and Lil reacted visibly to the audience, appreciating the energy. The crowd grooved along, and when Lil asked people to wave their arms, they waved their arms. Most people were sitting down but they still grooved along and bopped in their seats. The teenage girls in front of me were adorable, they had Adam signs but grooved to every single set. Anoop I think at one point went down on his knees (end of “My Prerogative?”) Matt’s “Hard to Handle” was terrific – CC liked “You Found Me” the best in his set. The medley felt schizophrenic, and thought it would have worked the best if they did only “Beggin” – Lil and Anoop sounded great on this, and they all looked sharp.
During intermission, I met some folks from TWOP, which was cool. CC said that there was a South Asian man near concessions and a guy pointed to him and said, “That’s Anoop’s brother” and tried to make him wave to him (I think he did). WTF. Sorry, mister, you fail at life.
M was also looking forward to Allison, whose hair – beyond crimson, like red velvet cupcake-red – looks otherworldly on the video screen. We stood up for Allison, and the older couple to my right were annoyed – the woman tapped me and asked me to sit down because she couldn’t see. I sat down and apologized but said, firmly, I want you to know that I am going to stand up for Adam’s set. She didn’t say anything. Allison seemed unsure on “So What, ” strangely out of breath and looking down at her guitar a lot. M said something was thrown onstage but we couldn’t tell what it was. People really love Danny, they danced to PYT. I’ve always been a fan of his voice when he doesn’t run out of breath on the verses. I would have liked to hear “Kiss from a Rose” – I think Danny’s voice on that song is amazing (more so than Adam singing it, to be honest). Out of the 4 songs in Danny’s set, though, I wasn’t sure if they truly fit him, but he had lots of passion and his speech was convoluted – seriously, no real logic to it.
Every single person in the stadium stood up during the buildup to Adam’s intro–including the couple on my right. At this point, I was holding M on my hip, and she was twirling both glowsticks, while miraculously not hitting anyone. Adam’s voice was incredible, and seemed to shrink the arena. His whole set is very cohesive, especially the video graphics, creating a very real mini-concert effect. The way the galaxy seems to recede into the screen at some point was perfect, like “black holes and revelations” indeed. During “Whole Lotta Love, ” he seemed more attentive to his crotch than usual for the “every inch of my love” line, and I think CC gasped when he did the mic stand thing. The discoball effect for “Starlight” was beautiful. He sounds so high at the beginning of this song, which was a gripe of mine watching the vids, but hearing it live, I think it’s a way to relocate the song into another sphere (or planet?) and works. Very beautiful, and, vocally, it’s my favorite of his set. Until he sang “Mad World” and gee, it’s warm and throaty and sounds completely different from his other songs.
I have no idea what Adam’s “real voice” sounds like because he adapts to the song but I don’t see that as a drawback. It makes me hopeful that on his album, there will be indeed something for everyone and that Adam as the artist provides the thread. I was noticing lots of people singing along or mouthing the words to “Mad World.” M shouted, “Adam sang Happy Birthday to ME” and the teens in front of me giggled, cooed at M and we all cracked up. (We were having a birthday party for M the next day.) “Slow Ride” was loads of fun, and the video screen was close up on Adam and Allison when she handed him the pink thing and he sang “What is this?” just as we were wondering the same thing. Everyone was cracking up. (It was funny to read the concert thread here later. No angry Adam, no cursing, it was fun and playful.) A few people sat during “Life on Mars” and then stood up again as “Fame” started. I was looking back and forth from the video screen to the stage, and it was odd that the screen showed a headless Adam taking off his jacket, panning up from his feet and not quite reaching his head in time.
There was a group of older women behind me who were dressed as if for church – down to the pearls – and they were standing with binoculars for Adam’s set. One of them, who looked the most dour, was shouting, “Dynamic, dynamic” during Adam’s set, and murmuring “Young Elvis” to her girlfriends, who were all nodding, dare I say, religiously, in agreement. They left after Adam’s set. Other people left up the stairs but it wasn’t a mass exodus by any means. Newark traffic is not fun, and some of those leaving had little children.
The crowd roared for Kris and the teens in front shouted “I love you Kris!” I loved the curtain effect. We stayed up for “Heartless” then sat, like a lot of people around me, for the rest of Kris’s set, but with no less enthusiasm. I’m not familiar with the Killers song but sang along to the chorus and thought “Ain’t No Sunshine” was the strongest out of all the piano-playing idols. I didn’t think “Hey Jude” was the strongest way to end his set (and why did the idols have to come out and join him, that seemed a waste of Kris’s set and the group), but Kris really screamed at the end of the song. He has a very appealing voice.
CC thought the group songs on the results shows were more interesting, and I agree that looking at “Don’t Stop Believing” was rather dull. The only thing that stood out was the back of Adam’s vest, which was blinding (still ugly), and someone pushed a fedora onto the stage (Yay, Matt) at the end. I asked the gentleman next to me who his favorite was. He looked at me very seriously and intoned, “Adam.”
Coming out of the parking lot, we had a minor fender bender, and as insurance information was exchanged, I talked to the driver’s mother. She was 71, and it was her first concert until her daughter brought her. She loved Adam, repeating, “He’s a showman, showman.” I introduced her to M, so they could revel in their mutual first concert experiences. M said her favorite moment was the bras thrown on stage (must have been at least 3 plus the unidentified flying pink thing). Glad the concert fulfilled her expectations, and she promptly passed out in the car on the way home (much more enjoyable than her Wiggles experience, for both of us).
The only other AI concert I’ve attended was Season 6, the first time I ever watched the show. Blake Lewis was my favorite, and I thought Matt was like the love child of Blake and Chris Richardson (Cake). So it was funny to see Matt and Blake’s bubble tweet later. The production of the Season 8 concert was far superior than S6 (which was mostly duets and group songs), and the transitions between sets was seamless. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the countdown order, which built up the anticipation for each succeeding idol. CC said she felt the same about most of the idols in concert as on the show, except they all sounded better. She loved Adam and also was impressed with Michael, though she felt some sounded karaoke. I asked her if she was surprised by anything in Adam’s set. She said no, there was some hip thrusting that she wasn’t expecting, but it all seemed to fit him. M loved the, ahem, birthday shout out from Adam, Allison, Megan and Kris. I highly recommend catching the show. Buy glow sticks, chicken fingers, and bring some candy for sugar level maintenance if you’re bringing your small child as the beard for your Adam obsession. Hee.