Thanks for the detailed recap and videos, hoppy….
Let me preface this with the fact that the American Idol tour has only been to Las Vegas twice in 6 previous seasons. (I think that right, anyway.) Im pretty sure they came for Season 2 (which I missed) and I know for sure they came for Season 4 (because that is when Bo Bice ended up in the hospital here). So, I had never actually seen an Idol tour, but as I am a big fan of the show and Season 7 is perhaps my favorite season in a loooooong time so I was THRILLED when they announced that they were coming here.
I also want to say that I know my videos arent as great as some of the others, but well, that what you get when you are arent sitting in the floor seats and using an un-fancy camera. Also, I was too busy watching and enjoying the show to actually pay much attention to what I was taping. LOL.
On to the show!
Chikeze came out first with a LOT of energy. He really got the crowd into it with his first song, …I Believe to My Soul and then ramped it up with …Caught Up. But, for me anyway, his final song John Legend …So High was an absolute highlight. His voice sounded spectacular on all three songs, but on this last one, he hit some beautiful falsetto notes and made it just look easy. He was definitely one of the surprises of the night for me. His voice is just silky smooth and he seems like such a likable fun guy too. Im really glad he made top 10, because he was a great addition to the tour.
Video: …So High
All the energy that Chikeze brought to the crowd sort of got sucked out of the room for Ramiele set, Im sorry to say. She as adorable as she can be, but she just looked so far out of her league up there. She got a …pretty voice, but it just so ¦ karaoke. (And I should know, Ive been to plenty of karaoke bars.) Her first song was …I Want You Back, which was the best of the three for me, even though her insanely high heels made me scared that she was going to fall over doing the dance moves. The second song was Taylor Dayne …Love Will You Lead You Back. The first half was quiet and pretty, but she started to hit some flat notes near the end. (At this point, I told my mom that it was …a little bit pitchy, dawg.) Her final song was …If I Never See Your Face Again by Maroon 5 and Rihanna. I wish I could be a bit more positive here, because she seems like such a sweet girl, but wow ¦ she just struggled through this one big time. Her timing was a bit off and it just seemed like she had just learned the song yesterday. Unfortunately, Ramiele set was the ONLY set that I really didnt get much enjoyment out of at all. :(
First off, I could kick myself for being such a dumbass. Apparently I got a tad excited or completely dumb and failed at hitting record on my camera for his first and last songs. DOH! Youd think I know how to work a camera by now, but ¦ no. I basically just sat there with it in my hands thinking it was running but it actually wasnt. Smaaaaaaaart.
Back to Mr. Johns though. Entering the stage to the familiar sounds of …We Will Rock You, the crowd went completely NUTS for him. He sang just a snippet of that song before launching into a fantastic rendition of …We Are the Champions. He then said he was going to his bluesy arrangement of a song …for the ladies, and gave a drool-inducing performance of …It All Wrong. Finally, he introduced his next song as one that …Randy Jackson didnt like it, but I dont care ¦ and then he proceeded to blow the roof off the place with Aerosmith …Dream On. Michael was everything I expected him to be, sexy, fun and he sounded amazing. Totally a showstopper. I actually think Michael was born for this kind of crowd and this kind of music.
Video: …It All Wrong
Kristy Lee Cook
Kristy came out in about as much glitter and sparkle as youd expect from her, and good Lord, she is definitely as pretty as youd expect her to be. (We call her Idol Barbie, because seriously, she looks like a Barbie doll.) Her first song was a fun country song called …Squeezing the Love Outta You. She then talked about veterans and the troops still fighting overseas and launched into …God Bless the USA. I have to admit that it may sound un-patriotic but I just dont like that song and havent for many years. (I went to middle school during the first Gulf War and they played it at every assembly, every local sporting event, on the radio 384 times a day, etc. so I got sick of it.) That being said, Kristy does sing it very well and it brought the entire audience to their feet to sing with her while big neon American Flag was up on the screen behind her. She mentioned afterwards that her father is a veteran so the song means a lot to her. (It was also the day after the 4th of July so everyone was still feeling a little patriotic and she got a huge crowd reaction to that song.) Her final song was one Ive never heard called …Cowgirl. Very cute and Kristy worked the stage like a real pro. She got a lot of competition in the country world, but she definitely will do well when she performs live to promote her album.
Video: …Cowgirl (just a snippet)
Carly started out at the top of the stage rocking out the Evanescence song …Bring Me to Life. I adore Carly but Im not sure if this was the best song for her voice. However, she still did well and looked so much prettier live than she ever did on the show. (I think she lightened her hair just a tad and it looks great.) She came downstage next and said that she felt like Cher and had always wanted to …play Vegas. She asked us if she could sit down and then began singing …Crazy on You. She starts off very slow and pretty and then stands up and completely rocks it out. Her voice is just phenomenal and totally owned the whole arena. Her last song was …I Drove All Night and again, she just killed it. The girl has got power. She gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone for voting for all of the top 10 to get them there and said that …a year ago we were just a bunch of losers. She then went on to say that …The next loser and I sat in our hotel room the night before top 24 and cried together because we didnt think we would make it and then introduced her good friend Brooke White. Aside from her great singing, I also have to say that Carly is a great speaker. She could easily go into TV hosting or something if this whole singing thing doesnt work out for her. ;)
Brooke and her piano came out of a lift in the middle of the stage as she played the opening notes to …Let It Be. Brooke is literally a ray of freakin sunshine. She has that big sunny mass of curls (and bare feet!) and she just radiates. Her voice and style may be suited for smaller venues, but even from where I was sitting, you could tell how much she loves what she doing. Her next song involved her guitar, snapping fingers and audience participation. She did Feist hit …1, 2, 3, 4 and really got the crowd involved well. It was a perfect song choice for her too. The best part was at the end when people were shouting …I LOVE YOU BROOKE and she was like, …Youre cute. to the whole audience. She went back to her piano for the last song and said that when she heard it for the first time she thought …I wish I had written that. It was, of course, Coldplay …Yellow. They had her bathed in yellow light with these gold stars flying about on the screens behind her. It was a really lovely performance. Unfortunately, some crabby usher came down our aisle and told us to stop recording so I stopped ¦ for a minute. (But, as you will see, proceeded to continue recording after intermission! HA!)
Brooke finished her set and then thanked the audience for donating to Idol Gives Back. The first 6 singers (Chikeze, Ramiele, Michael, Kristy, Carly and Brooke) sang U2 …(Pride) In The Name of Love) while a video montage of those being helped by IGB played behind them, ending with the words …Thank You on screen.
Intermission consisted of a Guitar Hero battle between two crew members, with one guy even playing it behind his head. (That guy was the winner, obviously.) They also showed the Guitar Hero: World Tour commercial with the top 10 doing …An American Band. We laughed a LOT because the two Davids probably looked more ridiculous than anyone. Such bad cheesy 70s hair, clothes and dancing. (But seriously? Brooke just belongs in the 70s, I swear.)
Back to the show!
Jason was introduced to a huge round of applause! I feel that like Brooke, Jason is more of an intimate small venue performer, but his voice sounded beautiful this night and so pure. His first song was …Over the Rainbow complete with ukulele. He a little bit soft-spoken (or Im going deaf) when he speaks so I only heard about 2/3 of what he said. I think he said that …Crazy, his audition song, was one of the only songs he knew how to sing all the way through at the time. (I dont doubt it, since I know how inexperienced he was before this.) I was so glad to finally hear his take on the Gnarls Barkley song, and it was just lovely. His final song was …Daydream, and it just reminded me of how this kid literally went from being cannon fodder we had never heard of to a true contender by doing this song in the top 24. I remember being blown away that night and though even he knew he was in over his head near the end of the show, the kid is still a massive talent and I hope he gets signed somewhere!
Okay, let get this out of the way. Syesha Mercado is just flat out gorgeous. She is so pretty she glows. (And it wasnt just the sparkly dress she was wearing either.) Her first song was Rihanna …Umbrella and it made me wish that she had been able to do this on the show, because it showed that she is able to do more than just Broadway songs. She has a heck of a lot of on stage charisma too. Her second song was Alicia Keys …If I Aint Got You which sounded even better live than it did when she did it on Top 3 night. Before her last song, she talked about having dreams and not giving up on them and being on a journey and how the next song is one she listens to all the time and means a great deal to her. And boy, did it show! She sang the song …Listen from the movie version of Dreamgirls and just ¦ wow. She had more passion than we had ever seen her sing with on the show, and her voice sounded stupendous. I literally got goosebumps because it was so brilliant. And the audience agreed, because everyone was on their feet screaming their heads off. I dont know if she this brilliant ever night of the tour, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a definite …moment. I regret not recording it, but I just had no idea! She then thanked everyone and was introducing David Archuleta as her …little brother when the crowd began to go totally insane. She stopped and said, …This has happened every night so far! and finished her introduction.
Video: …If I Aint Got You
The crowd went wild as David Archuleta came up on the same lift as Brooke did playing the opening to …Angels, including the teenagers a couple rows ahead of me. They brought out the fog machine for Archie, and I think they need to tone down the fog a bit because at one point, he got a little lost. But, his voice sounded great even when you couldnt see him! His next song was OneRepublic …Apologize which I enjoyed so much more than I expected to. His third song was …Stand By Me which he dedicated to all the fans for their support through everything. He also included an even longer snippet of Sean Kingston …Beautiful Girls mixed in, and no surprise that the girls went wild when he sang the …all you beautiful girls line. His banter in between songs was a bit of his usual …aw, shucks demeanor, but I remember him asking the crowd if they were enjoying their 4th of July weekend and he even said …Viva Las Vegas at one point when the crowd was screaming for him. He still seems overwhelmed that all these people are screaming for him, but stage presence wise, he seems more comfortable performing than he did for most of the show run. He prefaced his last song by saying that he liked to sing songs with a message (No way! Youre kidding!) and his final song was about telling the people you love that you care about them all the time. He then sang a stellar version of Josh Groban …When You Say You Love Me. I have to say that even though I always thought he had a beautiful voice, I found him a bit boring during the show. But, in person? His voice is even better and I enjoyed his set a great deal more than I expected to.
At the end of his set, he introduced David Cook somewhat like this (totally paraphrasing): …This next guy ¦ (Crowd goes wild) …Are you excited? I am too. This next guy has become like a big brother to me and I admire him so much. Awwww. I cant even tell you how I adore the love and respect the Davids have each other. Adorable!
The moment weve all been waiting for ¦ especially me. The American Idol himself, David Cook, takes the stage in a dramatic fashion singing his gorgeous version of Lionel Richie …Hello. His voice is even better in person and the guy just oozes stage presence and charisma all over the place. His next song is Magic Rainbows ¦ er, I mean …Time of My Life. Before that he tells us that he not just singing for fun tonight, he singing for his supper because he lost money in the casino the night before. (…A casino that shall remain nameless ¦ he says.) After he sings about magic rainbows, he asks the crew to turn the house lights up and pulls out his own video camera saying he wants to record this to remember it later. He gets the crowd to stand up and everyone is screaming their heads off. When he done recording us, he says …Ill show all of this to Michael Johns at the end of the tour so hell get REALLY jealous. LOL. Oh Cookie, you kill me. His next song is …I Dont Want To Miss A Thing. Im a little surprised he doing this on tour, but I guess it ties in to Guitar Hero being a sponsor and they have a new Aerosmith game out. Regardless of why he doing it, he sounds fantastic singing it so Im not complaining. Before his next song, he says it time for him to sincerely thank us all for supporting him and putting him where he is. He says he started playing in bands 10 years ago and now it weird to be making money, spending money and losing money (referring back to the casino comment). He also talks about how everyone has struggles including him and before he starts the next song he dedicates it to his brother Adam. Cook and the band launch into a full out rockstar …My Hero. Cook is a freakin STAR, if you ask me. He was all over that stage, throwing out picks to the crowd, touching the hands of adoring fans on the side of the stage, and just generally kicking much ass. He seems more likely than anyone else on Idol this year to play to a crowd this size again someday, but you can tell that even if it all goes away tomorrow, he having a blast.
Cook leaves briefly but returns for an encore, bathed in red light at the front and center of the stage, the fog machine goes ¦ nuts. He does …Billie Jean with a lot of drama and emotion and just like with Archie, the fog eats him up at one point but then quickly subsides so we can actually see him again. His voice was in top form, and this performance totally gave me chills. Brilliant.
He thanks the crowd again and brings the rest of the top 10 out for their group finale, Rihanna …Dont Stop the Music. There is much dorky dancing and though I did not capture it on video (shucks), Michael and Cook do some hilarious robot dancing at the end of one of the walkways. Michael even continues his robot moves after they move down stage to different positions. The two Davids come down to the end of the walkway and while Cook is pointing at Archuleta, Archuleta is raising his arms to get the crowd to cheer more for Cook. (Seriously, these two are just wonderfully sweet.) We end with an Idol patented pointy pose and streamers falling from the ceilings, and thus concludes the American Idols Live 2008 concert in Las Vegas.
All in all ¦ it was worth EVERY penny we spent to see it. The people I knew I would love, I loved even more than I ever expected. The people I thought would just be okay, ended up being fantastic. I really cant complain. (Granted, I have no other Idol tour to hold it up to for comparison.) The show did not disappoint and it left me hoping that more than just Kristy and the Davids are going to get signed and have great careers because there was so much talent there.