So it’s my first American Idol tour concert and we’re late getting to the show. My two friends and I decided to travel by subway to avoid the craziness and expense of “event parking”. When we arrived at the Air Canada Centre, Chikezie had already started his set with “I Believe To My Soul”. I managed to see his last two songs “Caught Up” and “So High”) and I gotta say, wow, what a voice! If he had sung like this during the show, he would have finished higher, I’m sure. Chikezie may have the toughest role of the Idols on this tour. He has to open every show, trying to pump up a crowd that’s just settling in, and deal with the distractions of latecomers like me still straggling into the venue.
More Recap After the Jump…
I have to agree with other reviews that have described Ramiele Malubay as seeming a bit lost and overwhelmed on stage. Being sandwiched between Chikezie and Michael Johns surely doesn’t help her confidence any. On this night, things got worse as circumstances beyond her control conspired against her. After an energetic performance of “I Want You Back”, complete with choreographed dance moves with the backup singers, her microphone went on the fritz, totally killing whatever energy she had built up with the crowd. Once she got a new mike, she gamely continued on with “Love Will Lead You Back” and “If I Never See You Face”. Vocally, she was quite good and I applaud her composure in the face of adversity.
The show’s first rock star moment arrived with Michael Johns rising through the floor at the top of the stage staircase, to the beat of “We Will Rock You”. WWRY segued into a rousing version of “We Are The Champions”. MJ then launched into his signature “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” and brought the house down with “Dream On”.
Kristy Lee Cook didn’t get quite the response of MJ but I thought she was able to keep the crowd’s energy going with a confident set. Mindful of being in Canada, Kristy Lee sang “Anyway”, instead of “God Bless The USA”. Good call. The other songs were pure country, “Squeezin’ The Love Outta You” and “Cowgirls”.
Carly Smithson got the loudest audience reaction of all the ladies. She gave amazing renditions of “Bring Me To Life”, “Crazy On You” and “I Drove All Night”. She definitely should have lasted longer into the competition.
Brooke White showed none of the uncertainty and nerves that sometimes plagued her on the Idol stage. The loudest audience applause came when she informed the crowd that her husband was born in Toronto. Her voice was in fine form through “Let It Be”, “1-2-3-4” and “Yellow”.
The first half of the show concluded with an Idol Gives Back song, “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, sung by Chikezie, Ramiele, Michael, Kristy Lee, Carly and Brooke. Though it’s a group number, it’s interesting to note that Michael Johns was the only one to get singled out by name by the announcer during this song.
I don’t have too many complaints about my overall concert experience. The Air Canada Centre is your typical multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility. For concerts, unless you have floor seats within throwing distance of the stage, you won’t be able to see the performers very well. I understand that. Our seats were in the lower section of the stands, not right next to the stage but one large section further down. Fortunately, huge video screens were set up on either side of the stage so everyone in the arena could get close-up looks of the performers. For such a cavernous facility, they did a pretty good job with the sound setup.
No, my biggest gripe was with the food vendor, who thought he was working a basketball or hockey game. Unfortunately, I had an aisle seat, with the aisle running right in my line of sight, between me and the stage. The idiot food vendor chose the most inopportune times to run down the aisle, hawking cotton candy and bottles of water while performances were going on. Most folks tried to ignore the guy but a few made the problem worse by signalling the guy to buy from him. During one of Jason Castro’s songs, he stopped right in front of me. I was
sorely tempted to physically shove him out of the way. I mean, come on! Anyone who wants food and drink can go out to the concession stands, rather than disrupting the concert experience for fellow audience members.
My other complaint was that there was no warning when the second half of the show was starting. A lot of folks, including me, had gone to the washrooms or concessions during the intermission. It would have been nice to have gotten a 5 minute warning to allow folks to get back to their seats in time. Instead, I came out of the washroom and Jason was already singing his first song. I rushed back to my seat to see the remainder of the song but many people were still coming in (and crossing my view of the stage of course).
I didn’t hear the initial audience reaction to Jason Castro but judging by the ongoing response, it must have been super loud. I was very impressed with all three songs – “Over The Rainbow”, “Crazy” and “Daydream” – but his set seemed a lot shorter timewise than everyone else’s.
Coming after Jason and before Archie, it’s understandable that Syesha Mercado received a somewhat muted response from the crowd. I understand she asked fans via her blog to make signs for her. If she wanted more fan support, she really should have considered the AI fan demographic that comes to these concerts when deciding on her set list. While I saw every age group represented in the audience, from seniors to kids under 10, the single largest and loudest contingent there was of teenage girls. Aside from “Umbrella”, she chose decidedly adult contemporary type songs in “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Listen”. Mind you, Syesha has a beautiful voice and she performed those songs beautifully. Yet, she generated the most applause when she introduced Archie after her set. Syesha was also the only one (others can correct me if I’m wrong) who thanked the Toronto audience for their ‘votes’, perhaps forgetting she was in Canada and that we Canadians cannot cast votes for American Idol. The other Idols thanked us for our ‘support’.
If somehow one had forgotten just how many teen girls were in attendance, the piercing screams that accompanied David Archuleta‘s appearance on stage would serve as a quick reminder. This kid is a star. I think he’s coming to grips with that realization, though so far, the fame and adulation hasn’t changed his endearing ‘aw shucks’ personality. From the moment he rose up through the dry ice mists, playing the piano while singing “Angels”, he held the audience’s rapt attention with his silky smooth voice. My only suggestion to improve his set would be to end with “Apologize” or “Stand By Me” (the ‘beautiful girls” part raised the scream decibels even higher), rather than with “When You Say You Love Me”.
The audience intensity didn’t let up as Archie introduced David Cook. And Cookie didn’t disappoint. Sporting a Metal Maven t-shirt and rock star eyeliner, he started his set with “Hello”, followed by “Magic Rainbows” <g> and “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”. He prefaced “My Hero” with a dedication to both his brother Adam and a local girl with leukemia. Some have commented that DC had an angry look during this song. I simply recalled a very serious expression in keeping with the tone of the lyrics. This particular performance showcased his ability to get the audience really worked up and involved. Amazing.
Cookie left the stage for a couple of minutes as the arena went dark and some folks actually thought the show was over, so they got up and headed for the exits. Or perhaps they just wanted to beat the traffic. The majority knew better and stayed for the encores. First, Cookie reappeared for a powerful performance of “Billie Jean”. I read a review that criticized DC for not pointing to the band’s guitarist during the guitar solo. Personally, I didn’t feel that was necessary or practical since there was already a separate spotlight on the band guitarist during his solo and DC was busy playing guitar himself. Anyway, it was a great finish to a terrific set.
The concert concluded with all 10 reappearing on stage to sing “Please Don’t Stop The Music” before taking their final bows.
All in all, I had a great time and highly recommend this tour to all fans of AI7. The live atmosphere was electric – there must have been close to 15, 000 in attendance.
I was able to record videos of everyone except Chikezie’s solo performances. Also only got 2 of Ramiele’s and 1 of Jason’s songs. My little 3x zoom camera wasn’t great for getting close-ups of the stage so I frequently “cheated” by recording the enormous video screen on my side of the venue. The audio is pretty decent though.
My YouTube page URL: http://www.youtube.com/8Lupin8