Photos after the recap… Check out Kristen’s photobucket: HERE.
Disclaimer: Yes, I’m biased. No, I’m not a reporter. No, I know almost nothing about music. Yes, I’m long-winded.
It’s the first time that American Idol Tour has decided to visit Vancouver (AFAIK), and Vancouver decided to rain on their parade. Oh well, at least they got the taste of the real Vancouver. Some people come here when we have lovely weather and then move here thinking it will be nice like that all the time. No, it rains and rains and rains and rains and then rains some more. Buy Gortex. Although, it has been gorgeous for the last 2 months, before the Idols came to town. I blame 19E for the rain.
I have seen the AI tour twice before, both times in Tacoma. I must say that it’s a relief that they came here. Boarder line-ups are a pain, it’s a long drive, it can be hard to find an American gas station that doesn’t require that you to give them your zip code (we have postal codes and entering 90210 doesn’t work. I tried it) and the Tacoma Dome is a little dumpy. Whiny, aren’t I? This time they came to GM Place, nicknamed, The Garage. It’s your typical sports arena that was designed to host the Vancouver NHL and NBA teams, but there was some consideration given to acoustics. The venue will also be used during the Winter Olympics next February for the Men’s Hockey events. I think AI is going to get creamed in the Canadian ratings when Olympic hockey is on. AI should continue to be fine in the States (woman’s ice skating finals are on the weekend).
The first thing that I noticed entering the venue was that there were a lot more men than I remember seeing at AI concerts in the past. I reason that it’s because this is the first AI concert in Vancouver and the men have yet to learn. LOL. That said, the men seemed to have a great time, so perhaps they will come back. Still, the VAST majority of the audience was female.
I took a peek to see what kind of swag they were selling and it seemed like mostly the normal stuff. You could get everything from key chains to fridge magnets to mugs to programs to posters to Teddy-Bears to a variety of T-shirts. As usual, the only Idol picture centric t-shirts were a group one, one featuring the winner (white with green lettering) and one featuring the runner-up (black with white neon eyes that seem to follow you as you walk by). The weirdest t-shirt was a black t-shirt with the words “I [Skull-and-Cross-Bones] American Idol”. I must admit to being puzzled with this one. Has American Idol finally decided to tap into a new market? The market of all those people who are forced to come to the concert by their friends, spouses and children? The people who dislike AI with the heat of of a thousand suns? Does it mean “I Hate AI”? Or “I Poison American Idols”? Or “I Wish I was Dead When I Watch American Idol”? Or is it code-word for “I Know 19E Are Pirates”? Now I’m starting to wish I had purchased one.
The only thing I bought was some Dibbs because by this time, the rain had stopped and it was muggy. Plus, Richard Rushfield made me crave them by tweeting about them last night. Then, I went down and found my seat. Row 5, sandwiched in between a slightly stern Adam loving couple on my right and a hilarious Kris/Matt loving couple on my left. Thank goodness for the hilarious couple because cracking jokes about how the crew members perched in the light rigging 4 stories above the stage survived without a pee break for 3.5 hours and how the show was being delayed because Kris was pitching a fit about green M&Ms backstage were the only thing that kept me sane through the barrage of repeat music videos. People gripe about Pop radio playing the same ten songs all day. At least it’s ten songs. We were subjected to the same 4 videos over and over and over again. It was like being trapped on a plane on the tarmac and having to listen to the safety lecture on repeat for 12 hours. I know that 19M wants to pimp their clients, but Daughtry, Cook and Carrie all have other videos. Couldn’t they at least show some of the other ones? When they finally showed some cheesy informercial about the Disney AI experience, the entire crowd almost started cheering. Honestly, if I have to listen to the same video played three times in a row, I will start to hate it, so mix it up 19M!!!!!! Where is that damn skull-and-cross-bone t-shirt?
Finally, the concert started and the stadium erupted. People jumped to their feet and started applauding wildly just for some kind of red lines on the screen. Michael appeared on the stage and we didn’t care, we treated him like Adam. Lots of cheering. Lots of noise. And Michael was off singing his first song. On the show, I thought that Michael was kind of ham-fisted. He clumped around the stage and there wasn’t much colour to his singing. But I was really impressed with his cover of ‘I’m in Love with a Girl’ . It had a lot of energy, it sounded good and he seemed to move around a lot better. Perhaps I was just high on Dibbs. But the rest of the crowd must have been too, because he maintained his intro excitement. “Closer” was pretty well done, but the crowd calmed down a bit. In any event, a great set from somebody I had my doubts about. He gets to keep his tour spot.
Then Megan came out. Man, is that one hot looking woman. Her legs are simply stunning. They go on for miles. And the dress was very flattering on her. Okay, enough of me being Paula, now I must be Kara/Simon. “The Thing Is” the girl cannot sing. I’m sorry, but it was like somebody let the air out of balloon. The crowd collapsed into their seats. Even some people in my section which was a hopping section where people were standing and dancing and waving glow sticks for the entire concert (I love being at the front. The enthusiastic fans always manage to get some tickets up there and they infect the entire area with their excitement and it makes the concert so much more fun. And that’s what this cheese fest should be. Fun. Sure, you get sore feet and you need to eat Dibbs to keep up your energy level, but it’s still fun). Megan sang two songs I love. “Put Your Records On’ and ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ , but the problem is that she doesn’t have enough soul to sing those songs. Mr. Rogers has more soul than Megan. I still maintain that she should have selected “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. The song is popular and simple and Megan sounds like Fergie to me. I think she could have handled that. These two songs in her set just don’t work for her. She has become better about moving around the stage (and doesn’t do the Toddler-Pee-Dance as much anymore) so she is improving. Her vocals just suck. Sorry, Megan. But you are smokin’ hot, so you could still have a career as a recording artist.
Now that the crowd was deflated, it was Scott’s job to pump us up again. Seemed like a tall task for him. During the show, he turned everything into an 80s AC Ballad and made me think of the “Great American Hero”. Here, he was still singing AC tunes, but they sounded current and had some zip. Scott rose up from the center of the stage, the audience was ready to hear something good, and Scott delivered. People in my section were back up on their feet and dancing to “Bend and Break”. Then, Scott told some jokes before returning to the piano for “A Thousand Miles”. I wasn’t totally blown away by this song, but it was certainly a much improved Scott.
Scott sank back into the floor, and Lil’ Took the stage. Lil’ started out strong on the television show, but seemed to lose her way. I think she got confused by the judges and headed off onto the wrong path. The more they tried to guide her back to the path, the more she veered further off the path (granted, the judges’ version of guiding is like trying to find an address while having a wonky GPS system, your mother-in-law in the back-seat shouting instructions at you and your 3 year old trying to read a paper map and they’re all providing conflicting information while a monkey jumps on your head and the car is on fire). Lil’ just became too karaoke on the show. But, again, she’s better in concert than she was the show. I thought ‘Be Without You’ was a little muddled, but “No One” worked quite well. “Single Ladies” was by far, her stand-out performance. She was all over the stage and very energetic. The crowd was having a lot of fun with it. I think the biggest improvement, though, was that it looked like she was having fun too. By the end of her Idol run, she looked miserable which makes it hard for the audience to enjoy it. She’s back to loving being on stage. Maybe it’s the lack of those whacky judges.
Another contestant doing better without the judges is Anoop. He looked practically tortured by the end of his AI run and with good reason. In some ways, he may have even been relieved to get the boot. But, now he’s back and that works out well for all of us. Anoop changed the entire tone of the concert. Before, everybody was having fun, but I think that Anoop is the first person who knocked people’s socks off and who was bit of a pre-existing crowd favourite. I’ll admit it that I didn’t really “get” Anoop on the show. I did not see his audition (I skip the auditions), so my first real introduction was that dirge he sang during Final 1 Group night. Then, his “My Perogative” during the wildcard seemed a little frantic to me and “Beat It” was a disaster. I missed country week, so I didn’t see his recovery and by the time we hit Motown, he was looking beat-down by all the Ryan/judge antics. But, now that I’ve seen him in concert, I’ve seen the light. Anoop came floating up from the stage singing “Always On My Mind” and the crowd reached a new level of frenzy. He was fantastic. Smooth vocals. Honest emoting. Excellent phrasing. “Mad” didn’t do much for me, but “My Perogative” blew me away. Now we had a concert!
So, how do we follow up Anoop’s great set? they bring out Matt to tear up the stage. Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Well, I think I saw a kernel of this guy when he was on the show. The guy who was gutted by his disastrous “Viva La Vida” and never regained his confidence. The guy who turned every song into singing-trick-goulash. The guy who was a ball of nerves. That guy was gone, replaced with the guy I think AI wanted Matt to be. Matt was here. Matt was there. Matt was everywhere. He was singing. He was dancing. He was playing the crap out of the piano. People around me spent a lot of the intermission talking about his performance of ‘Hard to Handle’ . Heck, people were still talking about it after the concert. That was an amazing performance. “Georgia” was heartfelt and wonderful. “You Found Me” seemed a letdown from the other two. It was still good, but it just did not have the power of the other two performances. Perhaps it is the hats. They contain Matt Kryptonite. Or Perhaps Kara is right and “The Fray” is not for him. In any event, the first song of the set was enough to wipe out the last song from the audience’s collective memory.
And then, there was a truly bizarre medley of varying quality. It started with Megan and the audience once again, collapsed into their seats. You could almost hear them say “Wait, I thought we’d already survived her set. How can you inflict her on us again?” It’s like when you bike up a hill and you get to the top and you think you are done, but you see that the top of the hill was just hiding an even bigger, steeper hill. The crowd was ready to bolt. Then, poor Lil’ had to duet with Megan and it was horrid. Poor Lil’. Makes the “Renegade” duet seem like a prize. I don’t know what they sang and I don’t think the poor song needs to be outed with its name either. Poor song was helpless. It deserves its anonymity. Once again, Scott popped his head up from his rabbit hole to save the day after Megan ruined it. This time, he brought Matt with him to do a rockin’ piano duel with ‘Tell Her About It’ . The audience was up on it’s feet having fun in no time. The horrible Lil/Megan duet quickly faded from our memory. Or brain protects us that way from trauma. Thanks, brain! Sarver came out to sing some Elvis (hey, I thought Adam was Elvis) by himself. Why did nobody duet with him? There were six people. I don’t get it. Anyway, Anoop came out like James Bond to set up the final song in the group number and we were soon back on our way to watch 19M’s latest videos on repeat.
Allison suddenly took the stage without much fanfare. First, we were watching some plant win the Disney American Idol contest (if he makes it to the Final 36/24/32/37/Whatever next season, I’m throwing something at the TV) and the next minute Allison was on stage. How come Michael got a crowd rev-ing intro? No problem, Allison doesn’t need an audience warm up. She can warm up the crowd all on her own. She was out there with guitar singing “So What” and crowd was rev’ed in no time. During her set, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of Idols this year that could play instruments. Sure, there was the piano playing trio and Allison can kind of play the guitar, but I remember finding out during previous tours that there were lots of Idols that played instruments. Kind of odd in a year when instrument playing is allowed, if you ask me. There won’t be an Idol band this year. Anyway, back to Allison. The wind machine was all kinds of nuts during this section. Made it hard to take pictures because her hair was everywhere. She did a good job of “So What” and I bet that Jive is thinking of molding her in line with her labelmate P!nk. I love P!nk so I think that’s a good idea. Then, Allison tackled “Cry Baby”. I don’t mean to criticize her, but I think she was a bit too much all over the stage on that one. I still think her singout on the show was her best version. That’s a song that doesn’t require a lot of bounding about. Just stand basically in one spot and pour your sole into it. “Barracuda” was a lot of fun and her interactions with the guitar player was very authentic. I’d also like to note that it’s great to see the same tour band back year after year. Unless I’m mistaken, Dave is still at the keyboards and leading the band. I remember the guitar player, other keyboardist and drummer (Aaron?) from S5/S6 as well. I think it’s the same bass player too. I like that continuity. I’m sure they help out the Idols a lot too with their AI tour experience.
Then, Danny came out. There has been a lot of talk about people planning to take bathroom breaks during his set. And people hating him. And him being the villain and all. But I saw none of that in Vancouver. The crowd seemed to be thrilled he was there. The little kids in front of me even did his heart thing with their fingers. Danny started out with “PYT” and the crowd was singing along and dancing and having fun. Then, he did “Maria, Maria” which wasn’t quite as successful, but still kept the energy level fairly high. He got it back to previous levels when he sang a very convincing version of Rascall Flatts’ ‘What Hurts the Most’ . In fact, I think he sings it better than them. He did a very short speech (and got a group “Awe”) and then was into his last number. The audience seemed inspired. It was a very successful set. And I didn’t know that Gokey had guns. The lighting was very harsh on him, though, It was like an alien spaceship was about to land on top of him or kidnap him or something.
And what do you know, an alien did land. His name was Adam and I knew it would be loud (every time his photo had appeared on the screen in between repeats of the “All-American Girl” video, a loud cheer would go up. I’m pretty sure that the cheering was not just because we weren’t having to watch “No Surprise” again). Anyway, an ear-splitting roar occurred and everybody seemed to be on their feet. And a cow three rows up started waving around her cheap-@ss sign so I didn’t see much of Adam unless he was on the other side of the stage. Look lady, if he doesn’t acknowledge your ugly sign the first 15 times you waved it as high as you could, perhaps he is ignoring you. I wish I would have saved some Dibbs so I could have lobbed them at the back of her head. I don’t even like Adam so I can imagine how livid his actual fans were. So, I hate “Whole Lotta Love”. I hated it when Zepplin originally sang it. I hated it when Daughtry sang it on tour. I hated when Adam sang it on the show. So, odds were slim I was going to like it this time either. And, “No Surprise” (no 19M, that is not your cue to play that video AGAIN), I didn’t. Yes, he did the thing with the mic stand and I almost burst out laughing. It looked so rehearsed. I remember laughing during Ace’s heartbeat thing during the S5 concert and if fan looks could kill (I’d be dead), so I made sure I did not this time. Then he sang “Mad World” and won me over. I love that. The ethereal quality of his voice during this song is captivating. Plus, when he isn’t concentrating on “The Adam Show” I find that he comes across as much more genuine. He followed it up with “Starlight” and was on a roll. I really enjoyed that as well. Now it was time for Allison to come out and sing “Slow Ride” (the only song I really enjoyed from stupid Hard Rock week) and they did a fantastic job. It was slightly marred by an underwear incident. I say marred, because Allison and Adam had a great vibe going on there and the audience attention was ripped away by the distraction of a rude concert goer. So, the audience ended up being amused rather than focusing on the performers. Way to go rude concert goer. Finally, Adam ended his set with the Bowie Medley. Somebody let Mayor McCheese out of his cell and he programmed some truly cheestastic imagery for the screen during the first song of the medley. Then, they wrestled McCheese away from the backscreen program and I could focus on the rest of Adam’s performance. It was fine. I don’t really like the rock wail (I know others do and the concert isn’t all about me), but I much preferred “Mad World” and “Starlight”. I think he should bump the Medley to the middle and move “Starlight” to the end.
Then, my favourite, Kris, came out and the audience exploded again. Yes, the clap-o-meter would indicate that Adam got more applause, but the crowd loved Kris too. When the opening of “Heartless” started, there was a collective “All-right!” from the audience. I love his rendition of that song. I always liked Kris, but that song made me want him to win. Before, I just thought it would be nice if he did. That said, I was a tad disappointed. Kris still conveyed the complicated emotions in this song, but he sounded a little hoarse tonight. Kris’s vocals during this song are usually so pure. Perhaps he had been cheering all night for the other contestants because that’s why I was hoarse by that point in the concert. Or maybe all the rain gave him a cold. He had a big drink of water before he started “Ain’t No Sunshine” and that helped a lot. “NoBo” is NoBo. My section mostly remained standing, but “NoBo” deflated the crowd a little. “Ain’t No Sunshine” was gorgeous (he really knows how to milk that song for crowd response) and “Bright Lights” was brilliant. He was all over the place. Strong voice. Mad piano skills. Rippin’ guitar. The kid can rock. Everybody around who’d sat down surged back to their feet for the guitar portion. Kris had revived the crowd from their recent bout of “NoBo” poisoning (perhaps that is what the skull-and-cross-bones shirt is warning us about. It’s the “NoBo Shirt”). Finally, with everybody on their feet, Kris closed with “Hey, Jude” which had people waving their cellphones and doing the “Na-na-na-na-nas”. I really enjoyed it. Great way to finish off a set.
Finally, after all that, “Don’t Stop Believing”, cheers for the band and “Seacrest Out”.
Summary: Best AI concert that I’ve been to.