American Idol – LIVE Tour 2011

Last night the season 10 American Idol Summer Tour came to Sacramento.  As a huge fan of the show, I was thrilled to be there. Overall, it was an entertaining evening and I enjoyed watching these kids live out their dream.

The excitement was palpable inside the Power Balance Pavilion as the lights dimmed and the top 5 Girls from Season 10 took the stage. Immediately noticeable, however, was Lauren Alaina – hobbling around the stage amongst her dancing counterparts. What’s that on her leg? A cast? Wow. After a little digging I got the scoop from a twitter message Lauren posted on July 10: “Good news & Bad news. It’s not broken but I have a third degree sprain and I have a boot and crutches!” I must say I am impressed that she preformed the day after her accident. She used a fancy black sparkly cane as she performed her solo’s later in the show.

Now here’s some highlights and lowlights from the show…

During the first half-hour, Stefano Langone and Pia Toscano were definitely the highlights, in fact during that time-period they performed more solos that then their counterparts. It was as if the producers are trying to push these two into the spotlight, and showcase their talent since they had less time on the show.

As usual, Pia was amazing. Her tone and pitch was spot on; and she was graceful, poised and beautiful. I wish they would have made better song choices for her, because they were a bit forgettable after a few minutes. She did the best with what she had, and it was great to hear that voice again – she was unquestionably booted from the show too early.

Stefano really shined! Great song choices, his confidence is up and he truly looked like he belongs on the stage. With dance moves and a wide vocal range, he certainly showed everyone he deserved to be there.

Unfortunately, Thia Megia’s lower register was barely audible, and thankfully, she only had one solo (that I remember); her higher range is much stronger and thankfully half of the song was in the higher range. She’s this seasons’s weakest link.

Naima Adedapo’s voice and dance moves were quite strong; and she adapted a Beyoncé song to include an African Tribal Dance. WOW, that girl can move!

When Paul McDonald took the stage singing Maggie Mae (and the crowd erupted) I had a premonition that soon Rod Stewart will be writing his life story for a made for TV movie, and Paul would definitely get the lead role. It’s uncanny how much he looks, acts and sings just like the superstar of the 70’s and 80’s.

The biggest highlight of the 1st half of the show came when Casey Abrams took the stage with his standing Bass and started a slow and seductive version on Smooth (by Santana), the audience went crazy! The first verse was completely amazing, and then he transitioned into the radio version of the song. It was still fantastic, although I preferred the slowed down version – he’s just an incredible talent. Soon Haley Reinhart joined him on stage (again the crowd goes wild) and they start a scatting duo to rival any Jazz singer. Following the duet, Casey continued his magic with his own version of Maroon 5’s Harder to Breathe. Simply amazing.

The 1st half concluded with a forgettable group ensemble of Forget You. The performance seemed disconnected and they definitely had sound equipment issues.  Jacob Lusk started off at lead vocal, but his microphone was either turned down, or turned off, because you couldn’t hear him for the first line or two of the song. Then, as each of the other members of the top 11 (minus reigning Idol Scotty McCreery) joined him on stage, it was difficult to follow what was going on if you weren’t sitting in the first 10 rows. This was due in part because the video camera was continually pointed at a performer who was NOT singing. The sound issues continued and finally the song just ended; so unexpectedly, in fact, that the audience needed a few seconds to catch up and applaud.

Following intermission, the show continued with James Durban entering the building from the Pavilion’s side entrance and walking through the audience singing Sweet Child O’ Mine.  He was high-fiving fans as he walked through, until he finally made it to the stage. That stellar performance was followed by another, as he belted out Uprising, the Muse song he performed on one of the last Season 10 episodes. Both songs were incredible!  It was amazing to watch this sort of talent in person.  I always thought he was fantastic on the show – but hearing and watching him perform live was stunning.  His vocal range (in full voice) is truly remarkable. He moves constantly, running from one end of the stage to the other, and he doesn’t lose his breath or his place in the song.  That’s tremendous! Following his performance, the audience applauded and stomped their feet so much, it was like we were experiencing an earthquake in Sacramento.

Jacob Lusk followed James, and again, wrong song choice and unfortunately for Jacob, pretty much bad placement. I certainly would not want to follow James, but if I did, I’d want to sing a song that people knew, that they could sing along with. His performance made me feel like I was attending a Church service – when I’m an “unbeliever” – I felt out of place.  His second song was a much better, but I was actually relieved when the next act came to the stage. Don’t get me wrong, I think he has a really great voice, I just didn’t feel the songs that he performed highlighted his abilities in the best way or engaged the audience.

Thankfully, Haley returned to the stage immediately following Jacob, and she blew us away with her rendition of The House of the Rising Sun.  Her sultry and seductive vocal stylings truly captivated the audience. She followed up with Benny and the Jets, a fan favorite from season 10.  Haley, in my opinion, should have placed at least second, if Scotty was going to win. She’s polished, poised and knows how to work the stage; unlike Lauren Alaina who is young and sweet, but who at times appears immature and lacks confident.

That said, Lauren did a great job on her solo’s. The best being her new single, Like My Mother Does – a wonderful tribute to the relationship she has with her mother.

The climax of the evening followed a video presentation from the past 9 seasons as each Season’s Winner was announced;  then they showcased Scotty McCreery’s crowning moment. The crowd erupted in anticipation of Scotty finally taking the stage – hands clapped, feet stomped, girls screamed, tears rolled down young girls faces and then you heard it – “Well, lock those doors and turn the lights down low…” – Scotty’s unmistakably low and rich voice came across even sweeter in person. Following his first song, he spoke directly to the girls in the audience (he knows his fan base) and then thanked everyone for coming out.  He followed up with Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not, and then sang his new single This Big.

He continued his seduction with When You Say Nothing at All; and following the first verse, Lauren Alaina joined him on stage and they sang the number as a duet. I’d say this was one of the evening’s highlights. Lauren Alaina sounded amazing, Scotty sounded like Scotty, and they looked like they were actually in love.

Lauren Alaina left the stage and Scotty concluded his performance with Gone, with a few of the female contestants on backup vocals.

The finale was, of course, a group number that included a montage of the Journey songs. I had to check my ticket, because all of a sudden it felt like I was watching a Glee concert (which is a good thing). They sang perfect harmonies and their voices were completely synchronized. It was a brilliant way to close the show.