Since there are already a few good Greensboro reviews, I thought, instead of discussing each set where I have nothing new to add, I would focus on a few things that especially resonated with me from the Greensboro concert and may not have been discussed as much so far. First, for full disclosure, I have been a diehard AI fan and MJ’s lurker for several years now. I have always supported various contestants, but tended to lose interest pretty much as soon as the finale credits rolled. This is the first year that I’ve actually felt embarrassingly invested in one specific contestant, but it is also the first year that I’ve liked so many of the top ten and found myself supporting a number of them post-finale. For that reason, I decided to undergo the AI concert experience for the first time.
I went to the concert with a co-worker/friend who has spent the last few years joining me in morning-after dissections of the shows. We came to the concert with slightly different perspectives as she was seeing the concert cold, while I had seen practically every video of every performance available. We bought tickets late, so our seats were not great, but certainly not bad. We were on the side on the first tier up, two rows from the top. We had a good unobstructed view of the stage and could also see most the arena and enjoy the crowd reaction as well. As soon as we entered, I realized that I’d left my binoculars in the car. We debated going back to get them, but once we saw our seats, realized we didn’t need them. One nice thing about our seats was that they were high enough that the second tier of seats created an overhang above us that blocked our view of the large video screens at the sides of the stage. As result, there were video screens that attached to the overhang. The screens were about the size of a 52 inch TV and were about as close as you would sit to a TV in your living room. So we enjoyed the option of watching the video screen right in front of us with close ups or viewing the full stage.
One thing I found very interesting is that, for some performers, I instinctively found myself watching just the video; for others, I found myself going back and forth between the two; and, for a few, I didn’t look at the video screen even once. I think some types of performers and performances are just more successful in reaching those in the back of the large arena. For me, the biggest example of this was Adam. He moves around a ton and, even when standing still, has a lot of big movements that, while possibly more OTT up close, have a tremendously effective impact when viewed from a distance.
The audience was very homogeneous. There were a lot more families (especially dads and young children) than I expected. It was obviously not a sellout, but seemed surprisingly full (especially considering it was a church night). I’ve seen some comments questioning why NC got two shows. I wondered that too, especially since Greensboro is probably one of the smaller, if not smallest, towns the tour visits. The only thing I can think of is that AI seems to be extremely popular here and this area appears to fit the alleged AI demographic to a “t.” Most people I know follow, if not obsess, over the show and it is not unusual, during the season, to find it mentioned often in the local press and on the radio. Of course, this may also be because, off the top of my head, I can think of six AI finalists who came from towns less than 2 hours from here (Clay, Fantasia, Kellie, Daughtry, Bucky, Anoop).
From reading online reviews and comments over the last few years, I was expecting lots of crazy fans in crazy outfits with signs, but I saw very little of that. Of course, I may have seen more of that if I was seated on the floor. However, even in the lobby and in the parking lot, outside of a few preteen girls sporting handmade “I love Adam” shirts, I couldn’t really tell who were fans of whom. Overall, this audience seemed to love the show and all the performers, but it was certainly not a wild and crazy crowd. I wonder if the idols had been forewarned of a subdued audience because someone, I think it was Michael, made a comment along the lines of “they told me you all would be quiet tonight.” Also, I did not see anything thrown on stage.
Preceding statements aside, once the concert started, it was clear there was a lot of Anoop love going on. Upon finding our seats, we immediately noticed a huge banner spanning an entire section that proclaimed love for Anoop. During his set, he thanked his family and friends who were there and pointed to that section, thereby explaining the banner. That section, along with most of the crowd, was going nuts for him. It made the concert really fun. (However, once I knew where Anoop’s family and friends were, for some reason I became fascinated with watching them to see their reactions to the other performers. I don’t know why, I just did.) Anoop was clearly having a blast. Having seen the videos, I knew what to expect from Anoop’s dancing for “My Prerogative, ” but it was really fun to hear several around me gasp and giggle when he did his sexy moves. He sounded great and my friend and I remarked how great the acoustics in the Greensboro Coliseum were. We should have found some wood to knock on at that point.
If I have one overall complaint from the concert, it was the band. (Well, to be fair it was probably the sound mix, but I don’t know enough to opine on that.). The band was way, way too loud for the entire second half. The difference between the first and second half was astounding. From the second Allison started singing ‘So What, ‘ my friend and I looked at each other and said, “who turned up the band”? I felt like Allison was screaming over the band and couldn’t understand a word she said (and I know the lyrics). At times, I even had trouble picking her voice out over the backup singers. Because my mind kept trying to distinguish her voice over the noise, it distracted me from her overall performance. However, she still worked the stage like nobody’s business and was very entertaining. I’m a huge Allison fan and was still impressed with her energy and performance, but my friend, while still an Allison fan, felt Allison was the biggest disappointment of the night.
At the same time, for me personally, Adam was the biggest disappointment. As big a fan as I am, I have to confirm what some others have reported: Compared to what I’ve heard from videos of other concerts, vocally, he was not at his best Sunday night. While there are a lot of things I love about him, I am first and foremost a true fan of his classically trained, exceptional voice. Especially after hearing so many others rave about how beautiful and powerful his voice sounds live, I was so excited to experience it firsthand and was a little disappointed that he seemed to be holding back vocally. Based on his performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumors of him being sick were true. Although I enjoyed hearing Adam bring his lower register out to play at little more (it is gorgeous), I missed hearing the “wail.” His voice also seemed to crack once (maybe twice) and did not seem as powerful as I expected in the typical places such as “see right through me” in “Mad World” or “sailing” in “Life on Mars.” There could also be a sound problem as well as I noticed, as others have reported, that “Mad World” and “Starlight” seemed “wispy” for lack of a better word. That being said, he more than made up for it with his stage presence and energy. Despite my personal disappointment, Adam was still my favorite performer of the night and totally blew me away. If that was his performance sick or holding back vocally, I can’t imagine and can’t wait to witness him at 100%.
What was not at all disappointing was the positive crowd reaction Adam got. As a lurker I’ve followed the whole discussion about the new south and how there is no reason to expect he’d be less loved here, but as a born and bred small-town Southern girl raised in the church, I was nonetheless apprehensive. Just judging from my family, friends, and coworkers who follow AI (and that’s most of them), Adam was clearly not the fave. Also, I heard some pretty ugly things expressed on at least one of the local radio stations around the time of Ring of Fire, so I was not expecting him to get a ton of support. I didn’t think anyone would boo or be rude (stereotypically we Southerners are nothing if not polite), but I didn’t expect the loud cheers he received. As reported for other venues, the screams for him were loud every time his picture appeared and became deafening when he came onstage. Funny story, there was a group of ladies in front of us wearing tee-shirts with their church name and religious sayings. We guessed they were Danny fans and we were right. They were on their feet through most of his set. My friend and I were joking during Danny’s set that we hoped they were ready for what was coming next. To our surprise, they were. They stayed on their feet and went nuts for Adam, clearly relishing every hip thrust and shake. So, basically, I found it truly uplifting that Adam got such a warm reception and realized I probably need to reexamine my own prejudices a little bit as well.
Okay, disclaimer, I am just not a Gokey fan. I tend to be a very cynical, sarcastic person and am just not the type to buy what he’s selling. However, many in the Greensboro audience clearly did, and would have probably paid premium for it. There was lots of love for him. In particular, one older couple below us were standing up and dancing like crazy during his songs and screaming “yeah Danny” during his talk. While I myself may not have gotten a lot out of his performance, it was really enjoyable to watch others so moved and encouraged by his performance.
Both my friend and I loved Kris’s set. He was great! However, sorry, I just don’t get the whole curtain thing. I know it’s supposed to enhance the “intimate” feel of Kris’s performance, but somebody clearly forgot to tell that to the band. As with his predecessors of the second half, Kris spent a lot of time fighting with the band to be heard and the band’s overpowering song stripped his set of any intimacy they may have intended. While my favorite song of Kris’s was “Bright Lights, ” I felt like he was screaming the chorus to be heard over the band. Side note, the audience went nuts for the guitar solo. I know nothing about the guitar so I would love to hear from someone in the know just how good Kris actually is. To my ignorant ears, it was very impressive.
Back to the curtain, I just don’t think it’s necessary. First, from our angle and with the lights, we could see behind it and through it, anyway, so it had no effect. Second, to me, it arguably suggests a lack of confidence in Kris and his ability to capture a large arena audience, a perception with which, having now seen his live performance, I vehemently disagree. While I think Kris excels at intimate performances and I would and hopefully will pay good money to see them, an arena full of 10, 000 fans is not that setting and I think it’s silly to pretend otherwise. Also, I just didn’t get that Kris’s set was all that intimate. While he connected with the music and the audience, he also rocked it with a ton of energy and charisma and it was awesome. Everyone was on their feet and screaming after Adam’s set and, to me, that energy appeared to continue through Kris’s entire set.
Oh, and for the record, we could see most the arena and saw very few people leaving during Kris’s set and certainly no more than were walking around generally during any of the other sets. I don’t want to discount anyone’s report because it could be true in their area and perception, but I suspect some people twitter tabout a mass exodus because they’ve learned it creates an uproar.
Biggest pleasant surprise:
For me, it was Michael, for my friend, it was Lil. I really wanted it to be Matt. Don’t get me wrong, he was great; but I think because I had read so many people say they were pleasantly surprised, I just wasn’t surprised.
Random style thoughts:
I think Matt, Danny, and Sarver all went to the same barber because they all had versions of the fauxhawk cut. I liked it for all of them. Also, Adam’s sparkly vest was not nearly as disturbing from a distance. Finally, Megan looked gorgeous, but her hair was wild. Maybe she was giving homage to our famous Southern humidity?
I haven’t seen many recaps address this, but at the Greensboro concert, I think this was the biggest number of the night. I have nothing new to report about the Idols’ performance of DSB itself. It was the same as what I’d seen from the other concerts. However, I was surprised at the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction. (Or maybe I was just burnt out having watched the video so many times from prior concerts.) It seemed like every single person in the arena was on their feet and singing along. It was great and so much fun. From where we were, we couldn’t even hear the individual singers as much because everyone was singing along. Cheesy as it was, my cynical heart was warmed with all the fun and positive energy flowing through the coliseum and I think DSB was my favorite part of the night.
In summary, while I tend to view the show and the concert with a critical eye, I have to say every one of these idols impressed me in a different way and I will be following most of their careers with enthusiasm. I truly enjoyed all of the concert and would go again in a heartbeat.