TORONTO – Anyone who watched the last season of American Idol will tell you that it definitely featured a different vibe than the year before. The contestants were older and there was a lot less schtick than the Sanjaya-year as the focus was definitely on artistry.
That being said, I was excited to see how the American Idol Live Tour would be this year since the contestants were so different. I got a chance to see the 18th stop of the tour at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
The show started off with one of those annoying warm-up guys that tried to get the crowd motivated. I don’t think his involvement was necessary though because I can say with all certainty, that this was one of the most excited audiences that I have ever seen. The majority of the people at the Air Canada Centre were parents who had brought their kids. I am not kidding when I say this, but there is no doubt in my mind that the parents were even more diehard than their children as almost every mom that I saw was wearing a David Cook t-shirt of some sort while their kid was decked out in Archuleta-gear. It definitely would have made an interesting psychology thesis.
The format of the show was pretty simple. The Top 10 contestants were paraded down in the order that they finished on the show and each performed a selection of songs. Chikezie was up first.
Chikeze sang four songs:
“I Believe To My Soul” (Ray Charles/Donny Hathaway)
“Hey Mama” (Kanye West)
“Caught Up” (Usher)
“So High” (John Legend)
I have to say that I was very disappointed that he did not sing “She’s A Woman” which was my favorite single performance on American Idol last season. When I interviewed him before the concert (look out for that later), he said that he really wanted to but that he was limited by the fact that the song involved so many instruments (like banjo’s) that they couldn’t take on the tour. A nice set by Chikezie.
Ramiele sang three songs:
“I Want You Back” (Jackson 5)
“Love Will Lead You Back” (Taylor Dane)
“If I Never See Your Face Again” (Maroon 5)
Ramiele was plagued with mic problems after she finished her first song and attempted to talk to the crowd. After being handed a second mic, she actually had to go back to get her mic pack replaced, briefly halting the show.
Michael sang four songs:
“We Will Rock You” (Queen)
“We Are The Champions” (Queen)
“It’s All Wrong, But It’s Alright” (Dolly Parton)
“Dream On” (Aerosmith)
I was a big Michael Johns fan during the show and he rocked out his set. I think his “Dream On” performance was definitely the best, and I also liked that he admitted it was the song that got him eliminated but that he didn’t care because he liked performing it so much.
KRISTY LEE COOK
Kristy sang three songs:
“Tryin’ To Squeeze The Love Out Of You” (Carolyn Dawn Johnson)
Original Song (Instead of God Bless The USA which she usually sings)
I thought that Kristy delivered one of the most complete performances on the tour. Her set had ballads, original material and she ended on a high-note with the upbeat “Cowgirls” to finish it off. She also worked the crowd into the performance quite well.
Carly sang three songs:
“Bring Me To Life” (Evanescence)
“Crazy On You” (Heart)
“I Drove All Night” (Cyndi Lauper/Celine Dion)
Carly’s voice sounded the best on the stage, which didn’t really surprise me as she was one of the heavy favorites to win the entire competition. I just wish she had walked closer to the crowd during the “Bring Me To Life” performance as I think it would have really made a difference. She sang it at the top of the stairs which kind of limited the crowd involvement. That being said, it’s definitely a minor nitpick.
Brooke sang three songs:
“Let It Be” (Beatles)
“1, 2, 3, 4″ (Feist)
I knew that Brooke’s set would definitely set her apart from everyone else and I wasn’t wrong. I knew that I was right as soon as she entered the stage. She was raised from the bottom of the stage on a platform that elevated her and her trademark piano. The best part about Brooke’s song choices was the fact that they were all relatively well-known. As a result, the crowd was able to sing along and this really helped bring the crowd up.
After Brooke was finished, it was time for one of the only two group performances in the show. The six sings who had just finished their individual numbers came back out to sing U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” in support of Idol Gives Back.
After an intermission, it was time for the heavy crowd favorites.
Jason sang three songs:
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (Iz version)
“Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley)
“Daydream” (Lovin’ Spoonful)
While I thought that Jason’s opening song was good… I think he should have opened with “Daydream” and ended with “Crazy.” From a pacing standpoint, I think it would have gotten the crowd more into it.
Syesha sang three songs:
“If I Ain’t Got You” (Alicia Keys)
Syesha stole the show. Her powerful voice, contemporary song choices and barely-there outfit definitely got the attention of the crowd. What also made her performance stand out was when she talked to the Canadian crowd and thanked them for voting (Canadian’s can’t vote for American Idol). It was very amusing to most in the crowd and a clear indication that the tour has become a routine to most of the competitors. The faux-pas definitely didn’t affect Mercado’s singing though as she effortlessly belted out the tough ballads. She was the perfect act to lead to the most anticipated singers of the night.
David Archuleta sang four songs:
Angels (Robbie Williams)
Apologize (One Republic F/ Timbaland)
Stand By Me/Beautiful Girls (Ben E. King/Sean Kingston)
When You Say You Love Me (Josh Groban)
The atmosphere and anticipation for Archuleta taking the stage was unlike anything that I have ever seen or experienced before. I have been to many concerts in my life, but I have never seen a crowd so revved up. To think that “Archie” is only 16 and has achieved such an undying devotion from his fans makes me believe that he will have a lasting presence in the music industry for years. He stole the show, although to be fair, it was very difficult for me to hear his singing over the crowd noise that simply didn’t stop. I do know that some fans were disappointed that he didn’t sing “Imagine” but that was really the only complaint I heard.
David Cook sang five songs:
“Hello” (Lionel Ritchie)
“Time Of My Life” (David Cook)
“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith)
“My Hero” (Foo Fighters)
“Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson)
The wait for Cook was definitely worth it and just as I noticed at the beginning of the show, while the kids screamed for David A, their mom’s were all about David C. Cook rocked the house with his guitar and it was his amazing cover of “Billie Jean” that really electrified the arena. I thought there was going to be an incident of epic proportions when Cook threw his guitar pick into the crowd and there were literally heaps of people piled around me trying to find it.
The show ended with a group performance of “Please Don’t Stop The Music” by Rihanna.
The concert (with intermission) lasted about three hours which was well worth it to the fans who shelled out big bucks to attend. One of the things that I forgot to mention was the fact that sitting beside me were Fefe Dobson and The Philosopher Kings which was pretty interesting.
What’s the bottom line on the tour? Well, if you are an Idol fan and are expecting to see a show similar to the one last year, you are in for a shock. There are no similarities. There aren’t as many group performances and in a year where the judges said that they picked the best singers… the focus of the tour was definitely on vocal ability rather than showmanship.
It’s definitely geared toward an older crowd this year. That being said, if you want to scream for David Archuleta, there is no better place to be.
Stay tuned for my exclusive interviews with David Archuleta, Brooke White, Kristy Lee Cook, Carly Smithson and Chikezie Eze.
Tags: American Idol