Well, it was a very long couple of days, BUT WORTH IT!!!!! Late Friday morning, my husband and I first stopped by the Garden City hotel, because the Idol Forums said that the Idols sometimes stay there. We saw one large bus and one long dark limo in the parking lot. We went inside, but it was empty and the people there looked like they were about to shoo us out if we lingered, so we left. We heard that the Idol crew stays at the Marriott next to the venue but decided not to try there because it was getting late. We still dont know where they actually stayed this weekend.
We arrived at the venue around 12:30 PM. I spent about 4 hours in the hot sun patiently waiting with about 50 other fans (a lot of young females in Plaid shorts). Now I have a very bad sunburn on my face and arms. About 1:00 PM three buses arrived. We could see Jordin, Melinda and Haley waving from the front of one of the buses. My husband got a video of that. The buses went down the ramp and under the building. At about 2:00 PM, security told us that the Idols were in hair and make-up. They said that if they didnt come out by 4:00 PM, they wouldnt be coming out because they had a meet & greet at 4:00 PM. Around 4 PM we went inside the venue to see if we could get meet & greets. We were told no ‘ it was all prearranged for relatives and corporate families (I guess sponsors of American Idol). None of the Idols ever came outside so, we went home and returned a couple of hours later for the show.
The show itself was very fast paced and LOUD. The sound system was awful. The set was very simple. There were a lot of empty seats in this 18, 000 seat arena. I was surprised that the audience was more of a sitting audience. This may be because of an interlude of a few seconds of darkness after each act (which induces the audience to sit back down). I expected to have to stand all night. The performances from all of the Idols was actually better than I expected, considering the reviews from across the country that I had already read. Yes, there were some …moments with the guys colliding into each other on stage during one number and Sanjaya almost slipping in another, but in general the choreography was pretty coordinated. There were many costume changes, which helped keep it lively. I liked the fact that they mixed it up between solos, duets and group numbers. However, I wasnt crazy about the song selection in general and wonder who was in charge of THAT.
The Idols appeared to be having a lot of fun on stage when they opened with …Let Get It Started. It seemed like there were some inside jokes going on. Individually, Phil was great on …Blaze of Glory, as Lakisha was on …I Will Always Love You and Melinda on …Natural Woman. All had impressive performances, delivering strong vocals. I felt that Sanjaya was the weakest singer, although a personable performer. Blake and Jordin seemed to have the most …tired voices of the group. I guess that after all of this …non-stop touring, your voice can give out. Blake had trouble hitting some of the high notes and was off key at times. His live looping segment reminded me of something similar I had seen Paul McCartney do not long ago in concert in an intimate setting. Blake is a good performer though, knowing how to move around the stage and work the audience.
Jordin was also straining, but she always had a tendency to shriek. She delivered some decent performances, and Im sure she will mature in time. Chris Richardson is coming into his own as a performer, although Im still not crazy about his average voice. Gina gave strong vocal performances on her solo …Who Knew and in her duets with Phil and Chris Sligh. She should do well in future endeavors. Haley is also turning into a …performer, but her voice is still just average.
I have saved the best for last, and I will make no bones about being partial to Chris Sligh. I feel that he was the best male vocalist on American Idol this season and he did NOT disappoint at the shows. His voice was strong and rich and his guitar playing superb! He is passionate about what he does and puts everything he has into it. He even broke a guitar string on the second night during …Life is a Highway. He took part in the opening number, …Let Get It Started, rapping and singing. His solo with guitar, …Typical, was energetic, but not well known to the audience. He also sang and played bass in the Boy Band numbers (…Crazy (Gnarls Barkley), …Hey Jude) and had a duet with Gina (…Thanks for the Memories (Fall Out Boy)). He also played a mean guitar on …Life is a Highway, and joined in with the others at the end of Blake …You Give Love a Bad Name and Jordin …Living on a Prayer. There was also a segment containing some humorous patter with Phil and Sanjaya. We heard several comments from people in the audience who seemed to be pleasantly surprised about Chris. At intermission, in the men room, my husband overheard a father telling his son, …I like the fat guy with the curly hair. Im sure that Chris will have a great career ahead of him in the music industry.
The show ended after 10:00 PM. We waited by the ramp behind barricades with over 100 other people for the Idols to come out. We saw three dark limos and one bus leave. Then around 11:00 PM, Phil came out and I got his autograph. Ten minutes later, Chris Sligh left in a jeep. At this point, we decide to leave. I understand that some of the other Idols did come out after that.
The second show was, of course, very similar to the first. I saw a lot of familiar faces in the audience (fans from the first show). More seats were filled than the previous night and more people stood during the performances. I must also give credit to the backup singers. They were often better than Idol performances. The backup band was also very good, except at the very end. When they played the American Idol theme over and over again, the bended notes were off-key, ending a half tone higher than they should have.
We managed to get passes for a meet & greet after the show. We waited patiently in a section of seats until we were ushered into a large room with several round tables and chairs. Haley, Phil, and Chris Sligh were either sitting or standing there. Melinda, Jordin, Chris R. and Blake came in a bit later. We immediately went over to where Chris Sligh was sitting. I only got to talk to him for a few minutes (the line of people was growing behind us), but it did confirm that he reads what we write on his blog. I gave him a copy of that Risen Magazine that I commented on on his blog. Chris said that when he was in Nashville someone brought up that magazine and he mentioned that someone on his blog had just brought it up, too. His wife Sarah was there, so I got to talk to her also. My husband took some video of me and Chris S. as well as photos of me with Chris S., Phil, Melinda, Jordin, and Blake. I normally do not attend American Idol concerts (because of the CHEESE factor), but Im very glad that I went this year!