Make sure to check out Meredith’s amazing photos HERE and at the end of the recap….
Hi, all ‘ my review is a little long, but hopefully worth your time. So, this is the second show I’ve seen for Season 8 (I was at the Washington, DC show, and wrote a recap for that as well). I was also in attendance at the GMA concert in NYC where Adam, Kris, and David Cook performed (obsessive much?) and each concert was AMAZING (which is probably why I keep coming back for more!)
After having such a great time at the DC show, I decided I wanted to see another one. Pittsburgh is a little further from where I live, but it’s the home of my alma mater (Carnegie Mellon ‘ tartan pride!) so I liked the idea of going back to the old campus, oh, and seeing a little show called American Idol on Saturday night (never mind visiting the friend from school who proceeded to laugh at me when I told him about the show ‘ he just doesn’t know what he’s missing).
Concert day – Saturday, August 22, 2009 – turned out to be one of the most absolutely amazing and memorable days of my life! It started around 12pm, when I arrived at Mellon Arena on a surprisingly sunny and pleasant day in Pittsburgh. I really had to use the bathroom before lining up to meet the guys before the show, so I found an open door in the arena. The place was empty, and as I was preparing to leave, I noticed they were setting up the stage, which was cool to watch. Then I tried to leave the building ‘ only to discover that ALL of the doors were padlocked shut! I’ll admit I started panicking ‘ I was literally trapped in the arena, no one was around, and, as I made a few desperate circles around the arena, I got more and more worried that I would completely miss out on the whole thing I’d come early for: meeting the idols before the show at the barricades. Finally, I found someone and asked how I could get out. She wondered why security hadn’t already kicked me out (I assured her I was just there to use the restroom ‘ I suddenly felt so guilty!) She sent me backstage to find another exit ‘ it is literally right around where the dressing rooms are. For a moment, I thought to myself, hmm, I could just happen to stay around and meet them all backstage when they arrive. But since I’m quite sane most of the time, and didn’t want to risk imprisonment and miss the concert, I opted to just head on out.
I finally made my way to the barricades, and eventually met four of the guys before the show. Michael and Matt were their awesome talkative, fun selves. I complemented Matt on his very cool large red wristwatch, and Michael proceeded to sign ‘I heart Adam’ on the back of someone’s RS issue. Scott and Danny came out as well, and Danny was a sweetheart ‘ very funny and goofy. I gave him a shout out that I had seen him perform before and thought he was great, and he reached out to me, patted my arm, and said ‘Thank you so much!’ (ahh, I was in heaven, and I’m not even a huge Gokey fan!)
Oh, and then there was a show to go to! And what a show it was! Full disclaimer: I had AMAZING seats (but I paid quite a bit for them as well ‘ way over face value). I was seated on the right side of the stage (which, btw, is the Adam side of the stage ‘ if you are a fan of his, you MUST sit on the right ‘ you won’t regret it!) in the box floor seats, front row. When the guys were performing on the right side of the stage (from the audience perspective) I was literally 5 feet from them (including Adam, thrusting his hips and slithering like a snake right next to me ‘ my, oh, my!)
As a result of being that close, everyone was so much more engaging and fun to watch live. Well, almost everyone. But, in general, I preferred many of the performances even more the second time around. It also helps to be surrounded by the audience energy in the front row ‘ we all stood for the entire show, and there were a few kids and teens who were all very vocal and excited for all the performers ‘ it was very infectious.
Now for a rundown of everyone:
Michael = seriously, this dude is really starting to impress me more and more! He had a lot of great energy and charisma. If he could get onto a country label, he might actually do well for himself. He really got me going, had a lot of excitement, and sounded good. I was very impressed. And he’s a great way to start the show ‘ and I mean that in the best possible way.
Megan = she is the weakest link, I’m sorry. Girl is BEAUITFUL (and I was so obsessed with her pink strappy shoes ‘ I wanted to take tons of photos just of the shoes) but she was not as good as Sarver, and couldn’t get the audience as engaged. She sounds a’ight on the songs (second song is going MUCH better now that she’s settled into her groove) but she just doesn’t have the ‘it’ factor that even folks like Sarver have a bit of ‘ no connection to the audience, no way to grab them. Though she does move around much better than she did on the show ‘ she’s definitely got a little slinky hip action going in her favor.
Scott = sounded great again (I was impressed with his voice in DC as well), though there were one or two bum passages when he strained for the higher notes ‘ which immediately reminded me of some of his slip-ups on the show). Otherwise, though, I love his sense of humor and jokes with the audience, and ‘1, 000 Miles’ , especially, is very entertaining.
Lil = impressed me more than she did in DC. Again, she had some KILLER shoes (diamond-y heels ‘ almost as hot as Matt’s red wristwatch). Her Beyonce butt wiggle was cute and had us amused in the floor seats (even if that butt was kinda wiggling right in our faces ‘ awkward!) ‘No One’ sounded much stronger than before, and I thought it was her best number. She seemed to rely more on the backup singers for ‘Single Ladies’ , which I don’t recall happening as much in either DC or the earlier youtube videos, and it definitely gave the impression that she was having to pull back to save her voice. I could be wrong though.
Anoop = He also impressed me more this time around. The dude can MOVE ‘ he’s got some very sexy dance moves going on. And when he falls down on his knees and leans back all the way for ‘My Prerogative’ ‘ whoa, mamma! Very fun and sexy set from Mr. Desai (and we met his parents before the show ‘ whee! They are super cute.)
Matt = Unfortunately, his back was to us on the right side of the stage when he was seated at the piano ‘ but he still managed to give us some loving (and more than just his backside at the piano bench) during ‘Hard to Handle’ and the end of ‘You Found Me.’ And, on the plus side, we had prime seats to watch him actually play the piano ‘ and the dude is SERIOUSLY killing it on the ivories ‘ very talented pianist and performer. #SIGN MATT GIRAUD indeed (and I’m sure someone will).
Medley = Entertaining as before. The best parts remained the dueling pianos on ‘Tell Her About It’ and the ‘Beggin” rap.
Then ‘ BEE-LINE to the bathroom (seriously, my feat during intermission deserves a special shout out: I was seated as far as possible from the closest restroom, and there is but one restroom for the entire floor section, which includes roughly 10, 000 people, 9, 990 of whom are women. I figured I’d be lucky to actually make it, but, apparently, everyone is generally slow and more interested in getting nachos, booze, or Adam shirts before hitting the restroom, because just by doing a quick walk to the Women’s Room I was in and out in 5 minutes ‘ brilliant! (The line as I left was suddenly ridiculously long, however).
Back in my seat in time to scream at Adam’s ‘American Idol Experience’ vid (‘Not bad, Kyle’ (or whatever the guy’s name is) ‘ I’ll never tire of hearing him say that line like that!)
Allison = ‘So What’ is so not really impressing me at this point. I’m also not a fan of the raspberry at the end (think it might come from the original song, but to me it seems out of place, and too childish to fit her more adult presence and voice). She looks lovely (all pile of windswept hair and all ‘ she’s like the female, redhead sister of Cousin It), but vocally and stylistically it was just a’ight for me. ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Barracuda’ were much stronger (as they had been in DC as well). In general, though, I think Allison’s set is just too much of the same ‘ it really needs a ballad to show her versatility ‘ otherwise, she comes across as a one-trick pony, which she’s most definitely not.
Danny = Very strong and very natural. I swear the guy has suddenly gained a 1000 times more confidence (and coordination) than he ever possessed on the show. Up close, it really showed. He was working that mic stand like nobody’s business, with some suave, smooth-operator dance moves, and a great soaring voice (which showed just the slightest hint of strain in some of the bigger passages). I’m naturally bouncing along to PYT (hard not to with that hot beat), and also enjoyed the silky smoothness of ‘Maria Maria’ and the ‘soar like an eagle’ vocal lines of ‘What Hurts the Most’ . That said, ‘My Wish’ kinda kills it for me. For one, it’s hard to concentrate much on what he’s doing at this point, when all your brain is saying is ‘ADAMMMMMM! HE’S ALMOST HERRRE!’ And secondly, the song is just too preachy for its own good ‘ then again, this comes from someone who often found Danny too preacherific, and, well, naturally preferred the ‘wild idol’ antics of Adam. Which brings me too’ ¦
ADAM = Wow. What to say. I suddenly realized how awesomely hilarious and ‘so wrong it’s right’ that Danny’s most preachified, ‘take it to church’ , ‘white doves and butterflies’ song is followed by Adam’s ode to sex, drugs, and everything devilishly delicious and decadent. First, I LOVE the buildup leading to Mr. Lambert’s arrival on stage. The energy is at a feverish pitch ‘ and the crowd just builds more and more before the screen slowly explodes with light, fire, and flash. Then, as that smoke starts drifting on the stage, oh, lordy, you almost have to remind yourself to breath! It’s like Armageddon and we’ve never been happier to see the world end. Then he emerges, like the devil casting aside all that is good and holy in the world (and I mean that in the BEST possible way ‘ and I also think some review said a similar thing, but I don’t care, cause it’s true). The guy was on FIRE in Pittsburgh. All over that mic stand throughout WLL, straddling it, loving it ‘ it was a beautiful thing. His voice sounded magnificent and commanding ‘ no strain at all, and with Adam feeling extra feisty, he pulled out a ‘Woman’ and ‘Back Door Man’ for the ecstatic crowd. ‘Starlight’ was exquisite and lyrical, though from so close to the stage, the helium effect was present (as I knew it would be), but not really distracting ‘ it kinda sounds like Adam’s regular singing voice, but slightly modified, to the point where you realize it is actually the sound system causing that effect (side note, I only really noticed it on ‘Starlight’ , and I never noticed it for any other performer, Kris included). ‘Mad World’ will never get old ‘ and Adam’s interpretation of it is so perfect, so hauntingly sad and alone. I’ve always loved that song, and Gary Jules’s version, but Adam takes it to a new level ‘ with those soaring notes toward the end that seem to scream out in anguish, only to be dragged back down to earth in despair. ‘Slow Ride’ was all sorts of fun – a HUGE scarf was thrown on stage, which Adam proceeded to pick up, twirl around his head, and hurl back to the audience. And the ‘Bowie Medley’ highlight may have been the moment when Adam, perched above me on the side of the stage, maybe 5 feet away, proceeded to slink and slither through ‘Fame’ in that inhumanly sexy way only he can do. Again, I had to remind myself to breath again. And then’ ¦it was over, and all I could think was wanting more, as he sunk back into the stage.
Kris = Ok, I’m not going to be as kind as I want to be to Kris. I gave him glowing reviews in DC, and I wish I could do the same here, but, from where I was seated, his lack of audience interaction, and his use of the piano and guitar as an almost crutch throughout his set really had a negative impact on me. He stays glued to the center of the stage for the majority of his set, and that lack of connection to the audience, of engaging them or getting close to them left me much colder than before. It was also noteworthy that, even performers like Matt, who played piano, were able to engage the audience more by working in more moments away from center stage, away from the piano, to interact a bit more. That was perhaps the most jarring disconnect between Adam and Kris. In general, their styles are complete opposites, in terms of Adam sending the energy out and Kris keeping the energy more insular and introverted, but at moments like this it was even more apparent, and more affecting from an audience standpoint. But he did sound very good, and he always puts a lot of heart and emotion into his performances..
Group number = so during the entire show, I was having a debate with myself about whether I should leave at the beginning of ‘Hey Jude’ (my least favorite Kris song) and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ to get a good spot on the barricades. I didn’t do this for three reasons: 1. I was as far from the exit as possible, and would have to walk through a sea of glaring eyes if I dared walk out early. 2. I knew Adam wouldn’t come out (WRONG!), and so thought it wasn’t worth it. 3. I really really really wanted to see Adam again, if only briefly during those final two songs.
After the show, I made my way to the barricades, and, despite not leaving early, I was able to implement my previous bathroom beeline strategy to excellent effect, and actually got a good spot on the barricades (I was originally about 4 rows back, but got up to 2nd row back when a few young kids had to leave early). I will say the meet and greets before the show are 100 times better ‘ less stress, less insanity, more private time with the idols to just chat and joke one on one. The after-show M&G’s are INSANE. I knew it would be bad when people were pushing for Megan Joy! Then, Adam came out, and a part of me died (in a good way) inside ‘ I couldn’t believe the luck! I was on cloud 9. Turns out he went to the other section of the barricades, and I was so scared he wouldn’t make it to us (he took a lot of time signing at that section). Allison and Lil wound up skipping our section entirely (sad face), and Kris went through really quickly, and in fact skipped my piece of paper to sign (double sad face). But all was made right with the world when Adam came by to sign. He had earplugs in (purple), and looked beautiful in a gray shirt and black baseball cap, with makeup still on, of course! He did have to tell us to backup a little (you try to be good in these situations, and we were pretty well behaved and quiet, but it is still really chaotic with so many people trying to get his signature and picture). I only got one good picture of him (too much movement, chaos, and flapping paper to get a good shot unless you’re lucky), and after the fact I wish I’d video-taped it, but it probably wouldn’t have been THAT riveting ‘ just lots of screaming and Adam trying his best to calm us down J But what an amazing way to cap off the night!
Afterward, all I could think about was, I need a drink. So I had two ‘ a pair of margaritas and some mozzarella sticks at a bar across the street. It seemed the only appropriate way to properly end an amazing night with Adam.