Before this season of American Idol, I’d seen a TOTAL of about 30 minutes – all prior seasons combined. But this season began as I was recovering from 2 total knee replacements, so I had a lot of time on my hands and was able to watch it from the beginning.
I want to start out this recap to let you know that, although I really liked Adam Lambert at the beginning, I didn’t think he was something extremely special until Ring of Fire. I am too young to have seen the uproar Elvis caused, but remember watching the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964, when the Beatles first appeared on American television. By mid-season, I was believing that Adam Lambert belonged in the same category as Elvis and the Beatles as a cultural phenomenon. I became a HUGE fan (for the very first time) of a performer. So, of course, I HAD to purchase tickets to the concert.
I’m a 55-year-old woman, singer, songwriter, musician and performer, living in the Atlanta area. I went to the American Idol concert with a dear friend of mine from Germany (both of us avid Adam fans). I’d never been to the Gwinnett Center before and had tickets in section 104, Row A. I had expected my seats to be close, but high enough above the floor section to see over their heads if they were standing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Atlanta can be extremely hot in muggy in late July and tonight was no exception. However, the heat couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. This crowd was AWESOME. The best crowd I’ve ever seen at a concert.
The concert started about 12 minutes late – but the crowd was on its feet throughout Michael Sarver’s first song. His voice sounded good, but it was really difficult to understand his words over the band. The crowd sat for his second song, which was also good, but in my opinion, not as strong as his first one.
Megan Joy then came out with short blond curly hair reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe and a tight pink mini-dress that showed a bulge in her stomach. Some have suggested that it MAY be a baby bump – possibly, or just tour food! Her first song was very very well done. She sounded quite good. The crowd was on its feet for her first song. Her second song, an Amy Winehouse song was, in my opinion, the weakest song of the entire night. It was very difficult to understand her words, and she was off and on pitch throughout it. I think if she had chosen “Walkin’ Afer Midnight” or “Rockin’ Robin” it would have been much better received. During her second song, the crowd sat and you could feel an ebb in the energy. She didn’t do her “caws” at the end, either.
Scott McIntyre then rose up behind the piano. His voice sounded very good and mellow in the low register. He didn’t sing much falsetto, but when he did, it was harsh and screechy. However, his piano playing was VERY good. Strong, clear and concise. The crowd was on its feet throughout Scott’s first song, which struck me as funny because he couldn’t see them! :-) I could have done without his jokes about the “high five heard around the world” and his dig on Simon. Of all the Idols, he was the only one who tried to clown around and criticize Idol and I think it was a mistake. The audience sat through his second song. But all in all, his voice sounded very good (except the falsetto which was VERY bad) and his piano playing was very good, as well.
Now it’s time for Lil Rounds. I have to admit, I was not a fan of hers at all on the show. However, she did a GREAT job of getting the audience back involved. The audience was on its feet for all three of her songs. She danced great, sang well (although, at times, the band overpowered her), and did an absolutely FANTASTIC job on her third song – Beyonce’s Single Ladies. Great performance overall – really worked the crowd well.
Anoop comes on stage to sounds of “Anoooooooooop” and began with a quiet song – “You Were Always on My Mind”. His voice is smooth and mellow. However, after the high, high energy of Lil Rounds’ set, I don’t know if it was the best idea to start with a quiet song. The crowd sat down halfway through his first song and stayed seated for his second song, another quiet one. On his third song, “My Prerogative” – the crowd was up and rocking – and Anoop was fantastic. Really did a great job of moving on stage, complete with some very, very nice hip swivels and thrusts that had the audience squealing.
Matt begins by walking out and singing and the crowd goes nuts. Near the end of his first song, he played KILLER piano ala Jerry Lee Lewis style – standing up, bent over the piano – and man, is he a FANTASTIC piano player! I’d go to hear him in concert in a heartbeat. Then he starts “Georgia”, which, of course, gets a rousing ovation here in Atlanta. The crowd did sit down during Georgia – but it felt more like people showing respect and honoring the song and his performance. His performance of “Georgia” was grand, although I was distracted by this stupid girl who came down the aisle and stood in front of me and took photos for about a third of the song. I was very upset with her and the security staff, which kept many of us OUT of the aisle but allowed her to stay there for over a minute – completely blocking my view. Matt’s last song was not nearly as good as his first two. It was a shame, too, because he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and then kind of lost them in his third song.
Then it was time for the end of the first part of the show. Lil Rounds and Megan Joy had a duet that was okay – not fantastic, but not bad, either. Matt and Scott played a duet and sang and were very good. And then Michael Sarver sang Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” – did an okay job. I like his performance of this song best of his three. Then Anoop came out and sang – Lil rapped (good job there) and all of the Idols did this choreographed dance, including Scott. I was quite impressed with Scott’s moves – he was totally in sync with all of the arm, hip and feet movements – and applaud the choreographer who worked with them. Nice ending to a good beginning.
Intermission time. Now you can start to feel the energy building up higher and higher. So far, this crowd has been VERY good and appreciative of all of the singers. Every singer has had the crowd on its feet for at LEAST one song (only Lil Rounds in the first part of the show had the crowd on its feet for all three of her songs).
Allison comes out – with hair blowing, guitar playing, and mind-blowing vocals and moves on stage. This girl was BORN to perform. She looks totally in her element. Beautiful – like a wild horse running. My friend commented that she had NO idea Allison would be so beautiful – she was absolutely stunning. Her first song – Pink’s “So What?” was good and she had a great rock “attitude” throughout. The crowd was roaring and on its feet throughout. Next comes “Cry Baby”. Absolutely KILLER performance. As good, if not better, as her performance on the Results show when she was eliminated. She rocks the house. No one is sitting down. Everyone’s going nuts. She finishes with “Barracuda”. The crowd is still on its feet, but of the three, I thought this song has the least amount of energy. Also, she didn’t actually sing the word “Barracuda” nearly as much as she did earlier this month when she appeared on the Conan show. I preferred her performance on Conan to her performance here in Atlanta. But Allison had a very strong set and worked the audience and stage like a pro. Best of the night so far.
Danny’s turn. Now, I have to start this section by stating that the only song of Danny’s I really liked all season was his “Come Rain or Come Shine”. But this crowd clearly has a LOT of Danny fans. He was VERY well received here in Atlanta. He begins with PYT and does a decent job. He still moves a little awkwardly on stage – and I didn’t particularly care for his outfit – the red shirt untucked, pants (complete with chain ala Adam) and boots (ala Adam), and dressier jacket – didn’t go well together and, of all the performers, seemed to me to be the least polished and professionally-put together look. However, Danny DID move better than he did on Idol. It seemed that many of his choices were copies of Adam’s – taking his jacket off and throwing it into the crowd, dancing with the microphone stand – but Danny’s vocal tone was really nice. It was difficult for me to understand his words at times and the band seemed to drown him out several times. After his third song he did a little talk – something I was dreading – but it actually wasn’t bad. He only said two or three sentences about not letting tragedy or past mistakes or failures define you and never giving up on your dreams. Then he introduced his last song “My Wish” by APOLOGIZING – telling people that he often got very passionate and emotional on that song and he hoped it was okay, which I thought was kind of odd. At the end of his fourth song, it looked like he was wiping tears away. All in all – okay performance. He’s not someone I would pay to hear again, though.
Now, the room is becoming electrified and the noise is deafening. It’s my guy’s turn – Adam. The entire arena is on its feet. He comes out and I gasp – I cannot actually believe how BEAUTIFUL he is. I have never seen anyone in concert this beautiful. He took my breath away. He’s feeding off the energy of the crowd and is killing the vocals on “Whole Lotta Love”. I’d seen all of the YouTube videos of his performances throughout the tour – and sometimes thought he got very sexual in this song. Tonight, though, felt fun, playful, and campy – like we were all in a big joke together. Before the ending of this song – I’ve seen in other cities where he pulled for more audience noise – but NOT tonight. He didn’t need to. The noise was deafening and he just grinned and launched into the ending. He sang “Baby” at the end – I was hoping for “Woman”. His vocals were amazing. I can’t really adequately describe his stage presence, though. I understand now what Paula was saying about her eyes being fixed on him – I couldn’t look at the blown up screens, couldn’t look at anything but Adam. Frankly, there are parts of his performance that I don’t clearly remember – it was like I was in a hypnotic trance that I never wanted to end – and all I’d had to drink was diet Coke! The first undergarment of the night – a dark pink bra – was thrown on stage during “Whole Lotta Love”. He grinned but left it there FOR THE MOMENT. His “Starlight” was okay – but, in my opinion, it was the weakest of his set. However, the audience stayed on its feet. They cheered the loudest at the beginning of “Mad World” but then sat and really listened to the song. There were a lot of applause after he sang “Mad World” the first time and at the end – but you could really HEAR him sing the song. There was a feeling of reverential respect in the arena.
Now, time for Allison to join him. Boy, these guys are so incredibly good together. They have perfected their duet and KILLED IT. Everyone’s going nuts – on their feet, screaming. They played the crowd, played each other, strutted around in all their splendor – and were absolutely fantastic. Allison kicked the bra over to Adam and he twirled it over his head and used it as a prop for a minute or two before flinging it into the crowd. A purple boa was thrown onto the stage which he wraps around Allison’s neck and she tosses to the crowd – but without the campiness or fun of Adam’s previous move. I think Allison could take some lessons from Adam about how to use audience “props” to enhance her performance. Now for Adam’s Bowie set. He began with “Life on Mars” which had a huge photo of Mars behind him – great visuals. Then off comes the jacket – which Adam plays to the hilt. His “Fame” was great – incredible dance moves reminiscent of his “Crazy” video on YouTube. Someone had thrown a purple cat of nine tails onto the stage which he uses very theatrically to whip himself in the butt several times before tossing into the audience. On “Let’s Dance” – he noted that there were a FEW people to his right that were not on their feet and dancing – but didn’t need to ask the rest of us – we were all dancing everywhere. Amazing, amazing, amazing set. I could have easily listened to him for hours. It went by WAY too fast and is like a blur. Adam is like this glorious male peacock with the sun hitting his feathers – absolutely the most beautiful person I have ever seen. He was clearly created to do what he is doing now. He is SO in his element.
Kris comes out and this audience LOVES this guy. Loud cheering. He began “Heartless” with just his vocals accompanied by slow strums on his guitar. Great beginning. Then the band joins in and I was disappointed with the way they drowned out his guitar playing and, sometimes, his voice. I would have preferred if Kris had done “Heartless” the way he did on the Idol show – with just his guitar. I think it would have been better. Throughout his set, at times the band was just TOO loud and overpowered his vocals. A shame, too, because he sounded GREAT vocally. Strong, deep, masculine – much richer voice than he’d had on TV. I wasn’t a fan of his second song. I was thrilled when I heard that he was replacing “No Boundaries” with another song – but so hoped he’d insert “Man in the Mirror” as a tribute to Michael Jackson. I had thought that he killed that in his Idol performance and would have loved to have heard the full version of the song. That said – he played electric guitar on the second song and played quite well. He began the third song “Ain’t no Sunshine” on the piano and everyone sat down. This time, ANOTHER stupid girl comes down the aisle and squats with her butt in MY FACE to take photos and I have to physically shift her so my face isn’t inches from her butt! Talk about inconsiderate! She stays for more than half the song. Kris does a great job on this song – sounds very much like he did in the show. Next comes “Bright Lights” which he began on the piano. People are still sitting – and the crowd seems to be getting more and more subdued. Near the end, though, he gets up and plays a ROCKING solo on the electric guitar. He is a FANTASTIC lead guitar player and the crowd is up on its feet, cheering, and fully back into it. He ends with “Hey Jude” on the acoustic guitar – and the crowd is on its feet singing and swaying. During the “na na na” part he stops singing several times and holds the mic out to the audience and the audience is LOUD – I mean we’re louder than the backup singers were! Quite a feeling of camaraderie and joy in the room.
The other Idols come out at the end of “Hey Jude” and they’re singing, we’re singing – everyone’s together. Then Matt and Scott play pianos on “Don’t Stop Believing”. Scott begins singing the verse and Matt finishes it. Of the two, I think they both sound good, but I prefer Matt’s singing over Scott’s. To me, it just sounded richer and fuller and more interesting. I also preferred Matt’s piano playing to Scott’s – more creative and energetic. Most of the other Idols join in and then Adam and Kris are raised up and everyone cheers and goes nuts.
Time to scurry over to the “Meet and Greet” outside. Now, Atlanta in late July is HOT, HUMID, and MUGGY. No breeze whatsoever. I get to the meet and greet around 10:10 pm and wait, and sweat, and wait, and sweat. I had SO hoped I could win a time for the meet and greet in the air conditioning with the Idols but no such luck. The Idols start coming out around 11:30 pm. Michael Sarver comes out first and I get a few good photos of him signing autographs. He is clearly enjoying the crowd and the attention. Megan Joy trots by – very quickly – almost at a jog. I don’t know if she signed autographs for anyone. But her hair’s up in a clip and she has TONS of eye makeup on – she looks better to me now than she did on the stage. Danny Gokey comes out and signs a FEW autographs – but scoots by very, very quickly. Scott McIntyre is out and signing autographs, walking with his brother. Kris came out but moved by really quickly and didn’t sign anything in my section. Then Matt Giraud comes out and is VERY gracious. I told him how much I enjoyed his performance of “Georgia” and that I thought he killed it and he made eye contact with me throughout and thanked me. Very, very nice guy. I hope he goes far. It’s getting late – 11:50 pm. Now, I hear screams and realize my guy, Adam, is out. Oh, my – he’s close and is so incredibly beautiful I can’t believe it. I forget to take a photo at first – because I’m just captivated by him. I have my Rolling Stone out and open it to the page where he’s putting makeup on – one of my favorite photos. He’s signing autographs – mostly programs and the photos they sold at the show of him. I reach out with my Rolling Stone and a pen – he already has a pen. He nods and smiles a smile of recognition and appreciation at the Rolling Stone photo, looks at me, and then signs it. Oh, my. I have to remind myself to quick – take a picture. I forgot to until then. He just has that affect on me!
Lil Rounds, Allison and Anoop didn’t come out at the end of the show. But Adam is signing autographs for people for a good 15 – 20 minutes or so. I love that guy.
OK. Now I wish I’d bought tickets for every possible show I could get to. I wish I’d entered every single radio show’s contests to win a meet and greet. I will start saving now to get the best possible seats at his next concert. Adam is going to be HUGE – as big, if not bigger, than Madonna, in my estimation.
Summary: All of the Idols did better tonight than they did on the show. All of them. The people who I thought were the “most improved” were Lil Rounds – on all three of her songs – and Matt – on his first two songs – and Scott – on his first song. Allison is so much more confidant now – a truly professional performer. With Adam – I don’t know HOW you can improve upon perfection – but to be able to watch him strut around that stage and move – he is just so comfortable there. Kris killed it on lead guitar, and his voice was rich and good – but sometimes the band drowned him out, which was a shame. The band was okay – but had a booming quality to it at times that wasn’t pleasant – and the backup singers were okay, but not as good as the ones on the Idol show. The visuals, overall, were great – but sometimes the lights just blinded me.
The most pleasant surprises of the night: (1) How incredibly great the Atlanta crowd was (except for those two extremely inconsiderate girls who blocked my view on two of my most favorite songs – if you read this, you know exactly who you are and SHAME ON YOU); (2) How stunningly beautiful Adam is in person; (3) How great Matt is on the piano; and (4) what a truly great guitarist Kris is.
IF you can get tickets to an Idol concert and IF you liked ANY of them during the season, I suggest you go. It’s a wonderful experience. I just wish I had bought close floor seats. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stand and dance throughout the show, but found (1) I couldn’t see if I didn’t stand up when the floor seat people were; and (2) I did just fine dancing throughout – the concert was full of energy and it fed me.