Mini Recap: Concert was great. Traffic was awful. PJ, Sarah, Erinn, Boomerang and Danjaya are fabulous dinner and concert companions. Melinda is AWESOME.
Overly Verbose Recap:
Others have already covered the blow-by-blow recaps of the concerts. We already know who sings what when with whom. So I shall concentrate on my impressions.
More of Kirsten’s recap after the jump…
Tour Format: I much prefer this general format over last year’s. They really manage to keep up the pace and if you don’t like the current singer, wait a few minutes and there will be an entirely new set of singers who you might like. I would have prefered to hear a bit more from Melinda and a bit less of the group numbers. I think that the duets work really well, but the group numbers tended to become a bit of a mess (without enough cheese to redeem them). I also think that if they were going to give Jordin umpteen solos, they should have sprinkled them throughout the concert. It was a bit jarring to suddenly switch from a review type concert to a solo concert and it made her section seem tedious in comparison. I imagine that this format is a bit harder on the Idols because they are off-and-on all night, but they seem to be holding up well (Lakisha had a bit of a rasp on her lower notes, but sounded great belting).
Crowd: The crowd in Tacoma was loud, enthusiastic and there to have fun. Every Idol seemed to have their ardent fans. Big signs for Gina. A stuffed frog handed up to Haley. And a full-on commitment to Sanjaya’s “Who is the Loudest section” game (I don’t mean to brag, but my section won). Even so, the night belonged to Blake. He clearly got the loudest crowd reaction and the most “I Love you”s from the audience. The home town were definitely there for their home town boy (not as much love for Sanjaya, but still a very good response). There was even a radio station handing out posters for Blake before the concert.
The crowd was not quite as big as last year. They trimmed the Dome down in size by placing a large curtain to bisect the Dome almost in half. It certainly gave the crowd a more cozier feel because the area was smaller. There was probably about 45 rows of floor space and then the back row of bleachers. The Dome has a tendency of being an echo-chamber, so I much preferred this arrangement.
Traffic: The traffic was terrible. TERRIBLE. It took me 1 hour and 40 minutes to travel the 30 mile distance from Seattle to Tacoma. As a result of the traffic, we were all late for dinner and I think a lot of people were late getting to the Dome. People were still trying to make their way across the bridges to the bleachers when the concert started. I didn’t get onto the bleachers until just as Blake was pulling off his Pop-tart costume, so I
cannot tell you if he made a convincing Pop-tart. He did look fetching in his pop-tart shoes and I think he should start wearing those in lieu of the Hat.
Dinner: Boomerang selected a great place for dinner. The ambience was fab, the food was delicious, and the conversation was sparkling. We found out about the inner workings of Team Plaid, got the scoop on the concert and even got some juicy Insider gossip from the label. Of course, we discussed lots of things other than AI as well. I had to bow out of going for drinks after the concert (long drive home), so I’m sure that the others have even
more to tell. I have to say that if you ever get a chance to go to a concert with Sarah, PJ, Erinn, Boomerang or Danjaya, you should. They are all a lot
The Performers (in order of elimination since they are jumbled about in the concert):
Chris Sligh: Chris has a great voice and looks very convincing playing the guitar (bass?). The problem with Chris, for me, is that he just doesn’t have much of a stage presence when he is singing. There is just something that fails to capture you. I thought on the show that he was doomed by his poor song choices, but after seeing the concert, I think that it is because he fails to connect to the audience. He’s just there. I do believe that he does better with this issue when he is playing the guitar, which is how he would normally perform, so there is hope. I think that Chris sounded best on his solo, “Typical”. Blake’s Mom danced in the aisle up to the stage during this performance and he gave her a nice shout-out.
Gina: Gina clearly loves being on this tour. She throws herself enthusiastically into every song. She enjoys acknowledging the crowd and the crowd responds well to her. She was in great voice and she showed a lot more range than she did on the show. I think that her best number was her duet with Phil, “It’s Your Love”. Their voices blended well and they had a lot of fun with it. At one point, Phil went down on one knee in order to crack her
up. There was just a lot of warmth in that number. Both Gina and Phil seem to enjoy performing and can embrace their inner cheese, so they are perfect for the AI tour.
Haley: Haley is the best dancer of the group. Sanjaya’s not bad and Chris R has a few moves to offer, but the rest are just not up to speed. They fall into two camps: those that aren’t even really trying anymore and those that try, but are just not coordinated. Some are actually kind of amusing in their badness. So, Haley shines in the dancing. Although there is technically nothing wrong with her singing (on key, on time, all the right words), there is just some kind of magnetism lacking. I don’t know if she’ll ever be a HUGE star, but I think she could make a living doing cruise ships or something. She certainly gives it all to her performances and she does have a pleasant voice. She also has GREAT legs. I think that her best performance was the “Life is a Highway” group number.
Sanjaya: Sanjaya is Love. I think that he has definitely improved since the start of the tour (based on the videos). His voice sounds fuller and he has a lot more confidence. This guy fully commits to every performance he gives. I think he was quite pleased with the crowd response (especially when we used the echo-properties of the Dome to great effect by stomping on the metal bleachers to create a great rumble during the “make a lot of noise” game). He was handed a rose by a fan and he seemed quite flattered. Sanjaya may not be a powerhouse singer, but he has great tone in his voice and he has a great sense of humour. That makes him entertaining. I’m glad that he is on the tour. I liked him best during his “Proud Mary” duet with Melinda, but he was also a lot of fun during the Michael Jackson number, “The Way You Make me Feel”
Phil: Phil was one of the best performers of the night. It’s tough to pick his best number, because he was so consistently good all night. Whether he was rocking the leather and guyliner in “Blaze of Glory”, cracking Gina up in “It’s Your Love” or glory noting his way through “America the Beautiful”, Phil’s voice was in perfect form and he really held focus. I found Phil a bit bland on AI, but his personality really shone through during the concert. I’m glad he overcame the nerves that seemed to plague him during the early AI shows that caused him to have trouble at the start of songs. No such problems exist anymore. Really enjoyable performances. If I had one complaint it’s that I didn’t get to fully enjoy “America the Beautiful” because people were still trying to get back to find their seats after the intermission. I have high hopes that Phil will do well post-AI.
Chris Richardson: Nasally is a form of singing. For some reason, the nasal singing was back in full force for most of his numbers, which was too bad. Chris is a very dynamic performer. I think that he is the best of them at working the stage and holding your attention. He is very charming and has a warmth about him. His best number was the Maroon 5 number “This Love”. I thought he was better than when Blake did it. Thankfully, for this number, the nasal was gone and he does have a great voice. I’m hoping that he was just a bit tired and fell back on old habits for his earlier songs. Chris
also did a mini-beat-boxing competition with Blake after their duet, and he’s pretty good at it. I find beat-boxing more interesting when performers are playing against each other; constantly challenging each other to up their game. IMO, Chris R is another person to watch for post-AI.
Lakisha: Lakisha certainly nails “I Will Always Love You”. The crowd loved it as did I. They were cheering her throughout the performance. If I had one comment, and this was a comment I made throughout her term on AI, it is that she should have more confidence to make songs her own. I’m sure that this is almost a note-for-note rendition of Whitney Houston’s version of the song. I still maintain that Lakisha’s best song on AI was “This Ain’t a Love Song” and I think it’s because she had no prior knowledge of the source material and she totally put her own stamp on the song. If I want to listen to
Whitney’s version of the song, I’ll listen to Whitney sing it. Lakisha needs to branch out more. I know she has the talent to do it. Still, it was a very impressive performance. Few could match Whitney note for note, but I want to see Lakisha step out from the shadows. With the right material, this girl could go far.
Melinda: I love Melinda. Melinda is awesomeness. What more is there to say? Early concert reviews said that she was a bit tentative during her performances, but she was out in full force in Tacoma. She knocked the crowd dead with “Natural Woman”. With the exception of “Ain’t No Other Man” (which was a mess for all of them), she was on fire all night. Great vocals. Exquisite phrasing. Amazing passion. Yay Melinda!!!
Blake: Blake’s best number was “You Give Love a Bad Name”. He started it out with an extensive beat-boxing routine which included some talking/singing which would sound right at home at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Then, the song started and he was suddenly all over the stage. The crowd exploded in excitement. They were clapping. They were squealing. They were thrilled. A great closing for the first half of the show. Sadly, one of my favourite numbers from the show, “Time of the Season”. was marred by a bad sound mix (you could barely hear Blake over the Band/back-up singers). Now, I’m going
to be very controversial and say that I do not really like “She Will Be Loved”. Certainly, it is impressive when he mixes all the sounds together, but the looping pedals are too technical for a live show like this. He keeps taking himself out of the performance to stare down at his feet and muck around with the device. To me, it stops things dead. I would rather have the performer concentrate on performing rather than trying to remember how to program the VCR. But, I will admit that I’m a bit of a grump because the rest of the crowd seemed to love it. There certainly were some great sound effects. Blake was hands down the crowd favourite.
Jordin: Jordin’s set is too long and concentrated. It would have been fine if the entire concert was set up like last year, but it just seems out of place this year. Many people started leaving during her set. There was nothing wrong where her voice and things went okay. From my vantage point, she was the only one to get everybody standing (the sub-section beside me seemed glued to their seats most of the night) during “Living on a Prayer” (granted, she did order us all to get up). I think her best number was her duet with Melinda, “This Will Be”. Those two were amazing together. The woman beside me commented that she was surprised that Jordin could be that good. I think that this was one of the performances of the night. Jordin was also really good on “I (Who Have Nothing)” which was her first solo. It just seemed to go down from there. I think that if they had sprinkled these solos throughout the concert, it would have more of an effect. They could also have cut a song or two to allow bit more time for some of the others, but
that is just me being picky. Jordin had a lot of fans in the crowd and seems like a really sweet girl. I think that “You Were Meant for Me” was a nice compromise between the ballads she does so well and a more modern sound. She might want to consider something like that for her album.