Another Washington DC recap, from TomK, below
I attended the Washington, D.C., concert at the Verizon Center on August 14 and would like to share my impressions. My blog won’t be one of those crazy-fan rave recaps where everything was in glorious living color. I will give good and bad commentary as I experienced it that night. Overall, the Idols concert was entertaining and moved by quickly. The three hours did not feel like such, though I did reach my limit with David Cook’s head-pounding (in a bad way) set, more on that later. I thought each Idol gave what they could for that night, though for a few, the road tour is probably starting to wear.
From the outset, I’d like to say I’m a Brooke White fan and believe that she should have gone further in the competition, around Syesha’s position, but spilt milk. I did consider this year’s Idols to be quite good from top to bottom relative to other seasons so I felt the concert was worth watching (I saw season 2’s concert as well). I arrived late due to D.C. rush hour traffic and missed Chikezie’s set and sat down in the middle of Ramiele’s. Let me say that my friend and I had the best seats in the house, front row just off to the left side of the part of the stage that juts out in the middle. We were no more than 3-4 ft from the stage with only the metal railing in front separating us. Needless to say, where we sat really increased my enjoyment of the show as you could discern eye contact, facial expressions, and quirky stuff like Brooke shedding strands of her luscious hair (from being overteased). Anyway, awesome perspective, but I didn’t have a camera! How frustrating (shouldn’t have listened to my friend who advised not to bring one). Though not sold out, the house was packed, only a few of the highest rows were empty. I was a bit surprised to see the arena so full, didn’t realize the area was an American Idol hotbed.
More Recap after the JUMP…
Back to Ramiele, nothing memorable of note except she was working hard and trying her best. She’s cute and small but not as small as I had expected. That’s about it.
Next came Michael, and he worked the crowd well. His songs were fine, “Dream On” got the audience pumped at the end of his set. He made the same Randy joke about the song but did mention going to the White House when he was here last for the sportswriters correspondence dinner (he was the guest of Tony Kornheiser of Monday Night Football). My impression of Michael overall was the same as on the show, definitely a good singer, puts on a workmanlike performance, but nothing spectacular.
KLC’s turn (why am I feeling an inner tug for some original-recipe chicken?). The honest truth, when I wrote this, I totally missed writing about KLC’s set, that’s how little it stuck in my mind. Two very country toons and “God Bless the USA”. For me, not the best choice of songs and unimpressive vocals. The near release of her album must be a case of striking while the iron is hot, as her staying power in music is definitely not assured. As for looks, she’s a knockout, super pretty and nice figure. From her expressions and body language, she came across as a bit snooty and above it all. Oh well, I enjoyed looking at her. I did start to notice that one of the smaller speakers in front of us was having a problem, and it got worse as the show went along.
When KLC was done, Carly rose out of the stage, without hardly a moment’s break between singers (producers really want to keep the show humming) but with a keen sense of anticipation from the crowd. Carly can sing but she’s still too shouty for my tastes. I liked her last two songs “Crazy On You” and “I Drove All NIght”. I noticed the band was way loud, many times drowning out the vocals, even Carly’s. I wished they’d dial down the band, but washed out vocals aren’t atypical in live concerts, and this does allow the singer to not be perfect on the vocals. Though Carly gave a good effort, she seemed rather removed, too, but did try to connect with the crowd and work all sides of the stage. She sported nice cleavage, though, something I really noticed from the first row. People have said she looked a lot prettier in person, but on stage, she looked to me like she did on the show, ok but not as attractive as the other ladies. She also mentioned about going to the White House as well.
Carly then introduced Brooke as a really talented person (I don’t disagree), and after a few seconds delay, Brooke started rising out of the floor with a grand piano and started into “Let It Be”, a good rendition but could have been better. She then transitioned from piano to guitar and stood at the front of the stage for “1-2-3-4”. She made a joke that D.C. stood for David Cook and gave plugs to the Redskins and Wizards, two local sports teams. The song was fun and suited her voice, but she would be better served doing an edgier, more mature song. “Love is a Battlefield” would have been a good choice. On her way back to the piano for her last song. “Yellow” was her best piece, and she seemed to really enjoy singing it. The yellow starfield effect was the best of the show. I enjoyed her music but expected her to be better both voice and performance-wise. From my close-in view, she appeared nervous and not particularly relaxed. The stress of the tour must be putting a strain on her voice, mind, and body. All of the Idols actually, but we know Brooke is particularly delicate.
After her set, Brooke made the short speech about Idol Gives Back and Malaria No More. Her delivery left a lot to be desired as she came across as very rehearsed and robotic instead of talking from the heart. But I forgave her as we made eye contact (I’m still in the front row) and I gave her a friendly wave, and Brooke smiled her big smile and waved back. I guess she was looking for some emotional support. So I had my fan moment with Brooke in front of 15000+ people.
Right after that, the bottom 5 launched into U2’s “Pride”. Another Brooke note: she had left the stage momentarily as the others came out one by one. When it was her turn, Brooke started singing with the wrong end of the mic. She quickly flipped the mic over, and the Idols and the audience had a good chuckle. From what we’ve seen on tv, typical Brooke. I finally see Chikezie to prove that he was actually in the show. A good group performance.
Intermission. And I’m bragging to my friend and calling others about my Brooke moment. Then a restroom break. The high ratio of females to males in attendance was punctuated by no lines in the men’s room, nice. I grabbed drinks and headed back to the floor and missed the whole intermission show, thank goodness.
The show began again, and Jason strolled out and positioned himself at centerstage with ukelele in hand. The two older ladies next to me were getting excited (or as excited as post-menstrual women get) about Jason. He did his 3 songs, switching to a guitar after “Over the Rainbow”. Nothing memorable; in fact, he didn’t even seem like he wanted to be there. He didn’t do much to try and connect with the fans. I think the two ladies were disappointed as they didn’t bring up Jason again after his performance.
Up next was Syesha with the crazy hair and bountiful cleavage and toned legs (again, first row). The lady’s in good shape. I didn’t care much for her first two songs, but she absolutely killed her last one, “Listen”. Single best performance of the show, and I don’t even like Syesha. I still don’t because she still came across as a diva-wannabe with a plastic personality, but for this one song, she was great. Cleavage and legs helped.
So finally, the two main folks that most of the crowd came to see. Archie came up out of the floor with piano ala Brooke but with smoke effects and gave a stirring rendition of “Angels”, probably my second favorite performance of the night because it’s a great song and Archie has the purest voice of them all. He really should work on his piano skills, though, as you could tell he’s not comfortable with his playing and kept looking at the keys, or at least stop faking it. Brooke is the superior piano player by far. His middle songs were good, but he was all over the place with his Josh Groban song, not a good closer. Aside from his fine singing, Archie was quite the dork, with his floppy feet and hunched over posture and persistent chuckling. He’s likable, though. During his performance, I noted to my companion of this creepy, fat, older guy in the stands who stood up for all of Archie’s songs and was clutching his hands and clapping with teeny-girl glee. Weird, hope Archie manages to stay away from him.
And now, the 2008 American Idol, David Cook. And he was all I expected, and less. Don’t get me wrong, he was good, strong voice, good stage presence, played the electric guitar but not exceptionally. I’m just not crazy about his musical stylings, and his songs sound similar. Of course, 10000 women and girls would disagree. He absolutely strained the faulty speaker and my ears during his set, way, way loud. My brain was grateful when he finally concluded. He was very comfortable on stage but had this strange, long stare into the upper stands on more than one occasion. He was wearing a black suit and tie, apparently a change from his usual garb. He threw 3 picks into the crowd.
So the last group number, and everyone is back. I try to reconnect with Brooke, but she will have none of it, just another face in the crowd now. KLC stood right in front of me, looked at us in the front row, but still had that condescending look on her face, no smiles for us. Michael and David do their stunts, and then the two Davids, but I miss all that because I’m getting one last look at the women.
And then it’s over. Lights up. No encore. All other concerts have encores, so wonder why the producers did not permit the Idols to have one? That’s when performers really let loose one last time. I would have liked to see one more group performance to cap the evening off. Too bad. Into the night, and I see staff holding up signs saying there would be no autograph session due to the limited space around the arena for a standing crowd (arena is located in the middle of Chinatown, a well developed district), but that did not deter about 70 people from loitering around the entrance to the underground loading dock, hoping against all odds.
I drove home, satisfied with having an entertaining evening that flew by quickly for being 3 hours long. Were all the performances top notch? No, but the Idols gave the best effort they could. I do feel that some of them are probably hitting the wall, especially since it’s the first time any of them have toured nation-wide. It didn’t matter, though, it was a good show, and I was really happy to have had my Brooke moment.