01 September 2008
A sort of review of the concerts and such
(All photos taken by me. Live. IN person. How cool is that?)
So I'm back in the land of fog and rain after leaving the land of sunlight and warm people. A stellar time was had by all, at least by the 9 or ten friends that shared the concert part of this trip. And by the 38,000 or so other people who took in the two concerts and made enough noise to register on the Richter scale, I'm sure.
It's not for me to say whether each of the ten performers in the American Idols Live! Tour 08 will have successful careers. I'd be willing to bet that 'The Davids' will have marvelously rewarding careers, and sincerely hope that the others find their creative way too. Obviously they all have great passion and most of them have serious serious talent (yeah, I'm not a fan of a couple of them.) And I love to see people successful at something they're passionate about.
So we'll go in order as they performed in the concert, which was in order of elimination. Each of them from 10-3 had 3 songs each; David A. had 4 and David C. had 5, and there were two group numbers. I should also note that because we met one of the musicians from the band, we had backstage passes to the meet and greet after Saturday's concert, so I met 7 of the Idols. Not David Cook, because he was with another group of friends and family, but that was to be expected, being in his hometown and all. Maybe one day he'll come perform here and I'll get to interview him. Stranger things have happened. Getting to see him in Blue Springs was an absolute delight, though, and I did take a few gazillion pictures, to prove that I was there.
10. Chikezie: I so, so, wish that Chikezie had stayed on the show longer than he did, because he's become one of my top three faves from the tour. His songs in the concert just thrilled me and my friends to bits, because he can seriously sing and move! He got the crowd kickstarted far, far better than Corey-the-host, with his velvety smooth voice, good crowd interaction and his enthusiasm. I actually met Chikezie twice; once in the hotel bar where one of my friends was staying, and once at the after-show meet and greet, where he gave me a serious hug because I told him how much we'd enjoyed him and hoped he'd get a recording contract that worked well for him. He's softspoken but very friendly and certainly his voice is powerful. Simon C. was mean to him during the show, but I believe he'll do very well for himself. I'd happily buy his record!
9. Ramiele Malubay. No disrespect meant, but this girl doesn't do a thing for me; I couldn't figure out how she made it as far as she did during the competition, and she seems out of place on the stage. Not because she's diminutive, but just because her voice is not very strong when she sings, and she doesn't work the stage like some of the others. After the crowd was gotten all revved up by Chikezie's phenomenal energy, Ramiele sort of was like cold water over the audience. Fortunately....
8. Michael Johns. Wow!!!...we were all brought back to mega-decibel pitch by Michael Johns doing Queen's We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions, and his subsequent numbers. MJ is funny, articulate and while his dancing is a bit odd, (he's got a goofy way of moving) his voice is wonderful. The only observation I'd make is that he needs to decide what sort of artist he is, whether blues, soul, rock, or something in between, and just be him, not bother channelling Freddie or JImi or Steve. He certainly does stir the ladies up, too. And of course his participation as half of the conspirators in the Mavid dance of Please Don't Stop the Music is totally priceless.
7. Kristy Lee Cook. Country is not my thing. This performer isn't my thing. However, I watched her interacting with fans in the afternoon out at the barricades, and she was great with kids especially, signing lots of autographs and posing for pictures. She'll probably do just fine in the country genre, and just like the ladies find MJ quite appealing, KLC has plenty of male admirers.
6. Carly Smithson. This young woman has a lot of guy fans too. Well, actually, Carly has plenty of fans of every genre, I think. Rightly so; the girl sure can belt songs, and now that she's out from under the gun of Simon's critical self, she's blooming. I love Evanescence so was a bit concerned that she'd be covering 'Bring me to life', but I loved what she did to it, and to her other songs.
5. Brooke White. Brooke's hubby Dave is from Cole Harbour, and she was so excited to find out I was from NS, she sent me right over to meet him and chat at the afterparty. Brooke is sunny and sweet and lovely, according to all who know her, and I'd have to agree. I didn't take photos of her on stage because she was playing the piano for Let it Be and Coldplay's Yellow, and then the guitar for Feist's 1234 and she just wasn't in the right spot for pictures. Afterwards, however, there was time to chat and again, she's a natural interacting with the fans who swarmed around her. I liked her a LOT on the show although the last couple of weeks before she was eliminated she was just so stressed that it was sad to watch. Many call her the modern-day Carol King, but I like her voice much better.
4. Jason Castro. Some critics have commented that Jason's acoustic set (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Gnarles Barkley's Crazy, and Daydream) doesn't fit well with the vibe of the rest of the performances. I wouldn't make a good critic, apparently, because I loved his mellow, easy-going set and his smooth voice. He's also really fun to watch with his fans, the Dreadheads, who showed him a lot of love at the barricades in the afternoon. At the afterparty, he was standing by himself for a while and we chatted about several different things including college ; he's an Aggie from TAMU, although his senior year is 'on hold' while this Idol craziness shakes out wherever it's going to lead.
3. Syesha Mercado. On the show, I was so NOT a fan of Syesha simply because I found her too derivative of the divas that I don't care for. However, she won me over with her set in the concert, because she truly brings it all and leaves it on the stage. The musician from the band who we met told me that she's very shy and has a tough time with conversations with people she doesn't know well, and that also softened my opinion of her.
2. David Archuleta. During the run of the show, I initially wasn't a fan of young Archie because he was promoted heavily as the favourite and while I liked his voice, it seemed the same week after week. At the finale where the champion was revealed, however, watching the two Davids interact in behind the scenes film clips as well as on stage, all that earlier dislike disappeared. Watching Archie over the course of the summer has meant watching him gain confidence in performing and interacting with others, and I absolutely LOVED his four-song set in the concert. Don't tell Robbie Williams, but I actually like Archie's version of Angels better; ditto his version of OneRepublic's 'Apologize.' Will I buy his album? Depends on whether they turn him into a bubble gum recording artist or let him spread his creative wings a little. Whatever the case, he's a sweetheart to talk to and he spent a huge long time outside with his fans, and never seemed tired or put out, even by the crazies.
1. David Cook. Yes, we KNOW I'm a fan. I admit freely to having had my attention caught by this guy in his audition, where the odd hair and the funky vest clashed with the softspoken polite guy who then opened his mouth and sang Bon Jovi, and left me going 'What? Who IS that!?" I'd never watched more than the auditions, but David Cook forced me to watch the whole season. By top 20, I was sure he'd win if there was any justice in the world. And what do you know, he did win. Happy story.
So in concert? It's like he's been doing this forever. In some ways he has, as he has performed in bands and solo since he was in his midteens. But there's more to it than that. Cook reminds me of a younger Bono, or Coldplay's Chris Martin, because he's compassionate, interested in the world around him, articulate and blazingly talented. (sure he's pretty fine looking too, but if he was a jerk I'd never pay any attention to him at all.) He works the stage and talks to the audience like there are ten people in the room, not nearly 20 thousand. He doesn't sound like your run of the mill pop or rock singer, and he's not derivative. It's not David Cook doing Lionel Richie doing Hello. It's David Cook doing Hello. Right now he's constrained to do other people's songs by the terms of the show, but he's got a lot of his own music out there--look for Analog Heart and have a listen, or some of the old Axium stuff--and soon we'll have a new album to enjoy (for whoever asked, the word is mid-autumn for the album to be released, but that's all I've heard.
Of the two group pieces, the finale, Please Don't Stop the Music, gets a lot of attention because of the little miniskits that MJ and DC do--go to Youtube and search 'Mavid dance' because I can't possibly explain. But the earlier group song, U2's Pride (In the Name of Love) which is done by idols 10-6, is actually one of the highlights of the show in my mind. Yes, it's to promote Idol Gives Back, but that's a worthwhile cause, and the voices of the six singers work together beautifully.
So there you have it. If you're still not sure about going, and you're somewhere within the circuit of the last 10 shows--I'd recommend going, especially if you are a fan of the Davids, but really, there IS something for everyone in this concert. I saw people of all ages, not just squealing teenboppers (obviously) and I think the reason so many people embrace this show is that we get to watch the progression of the young performers as they work through the weeks of competition, and rise to meet some pretty intersting challenges musically. Plus we get to participate in seeing them move up week by week (yes, I voted via Gizmo over the last few weeks of the competition. A LOT of times. For Cook.) So it's a democratic investment that we make, and that's what makes the experience different from watching a Garth or a Bono or a Feist; we have a say in helping them get started. Now it's up to them. And I do think they'll mostly all do brilliantly.
Okay, next time we'll finish up with Kansas City's other claims to fame (barbecue, great architecture, more music) and then maybe it'll have stopped raining here so I can go out to the garden! Thank you to the Idols for putting on an amazingly fun and entertaining time; we can probably all say we had the Time of My Life.