While I have covered the “American Idol Live!” tour every year since it began, the 2013 edition that touched down in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Tuesday was certainly unlike any of the other concerts that have preceded it.
The primary difference was the fact that there was a profoundly different set list. Instead of just retreading the covers that were performed during their Idol performances, the Idol contestants performed current medleys, intended to encourage the audience to singalong and make the show appealing to music fans who didn’t tune into the show as well.
These included the girls singing “Wings” by Little Mix, the boys covering Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” and the entire cast belting out fun.’s “We Are Young.”
The group’s version of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was particularly amusing given the fallout from the VMA’s and I certainly can’t even hear the song again without picturing Miley Cyrus’ awkward gyrations.
With that being said, the pace of the concert was certainly significantly slower than in previous seasons. With this being one of the most of the talented Idol casts around, it almost seemed like the pacing of the show wasn’t a consideration when it was choreographed and (just like the show itself in Season 12), there were more ballads included than ever before. This was the likely result of the Idols having much more say in what they performed on the tour this year.
Here’s my list of each Idol’s best performance of the night.
Aubrey Cleland – “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce
While Aubrey performed a slower version of this song on Idol‘s sudden-death round, her uptempo tour version was a much needed break from the mundane. Easily one of the most marketable Idols on the show (seriously, her versus Charlie Askew?), the tour offered a nice platform for Aubrey to prove that she certainly didn’t need a sing-off to justify her presence in the line-up. Check out my interview with Aubrey from the finale.
Curtis Finch Jr. – “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
Curtis’ elimination was always the most shocking for me and the fact that he was the first finalist to exit the competition made no sense as he was the best male singer in the competition. While I believe that his tendency to concentrate on his gospel music background led to his alienation from Idol‘s younger demographic, his voice certainly spoke for itself on Tuesday. I also thought that the Bruno Mars selection was the right one.
Paul Jolley – “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood
While I am still deciding how I feel about current Idols singing hits by previous Idols, there is no question that Jolley’s number was a crowd-pleaser. Any fast-paced song came as a welcome relief to a show that was more about slowly waving hands and cell phones than it was about dancing in the aisles. Similar to Sanjaya Malakar inexplicably owning the night on the 2007 edition of the tour, Jolley was also one of the big surprises on this one. Check out my interview with Paul Jolley from the finale.
Devin Velez – “Somos Novios” by Andrea Bocelli
I didn’t really care for this choice when Velez performed it on the show and I was positive it would result in his dismissal, but as we all know, I was wrong and the song actually catapulted the Spanish singer into the finals. With time to work on his stage presence, Velez has now perfected his signature chanson and the way he holds onto the last note is one of the best moments of the live performance.
Burnell Taylor – “Everybody Knows” by John Legend
I am not a big fan of John Legend and as a result, this one didn’t really do it for me. While Taylor poured his heart and soul into it (making it his best performance of the night), I still feel like he didn’t really connect with the audience.
Lazaro Arbos – “Feeling Good” by Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse
Apparently not his first choice for the tour as he would have preferred to belt out Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” I actually think this choice worked out for Lazaro as the Anthony Newley – Leslie Bricusse song popularized by Michael Buble is a great fit for his voice. While I didn’t care for Lazaro’s performance of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” I definitely thought that he sounded good on Feeling Good.
Janelle Arthur – “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry
A natural performer, who can forget Janelle Arthur’s hair-shaking rendition of “Done” alongside The Band Perry on the Idol finale? Janelle once again steals the show with her version of the band’s “Better Dig Two.” I always felt like the country starlet got a bad deal on the show as she almost certainly would have been a finalist on any other season, but found herself stuck in a class with some of the best female singers ever this year. She was a standout on the tour and the only one who could even come close to challenging Angie Miller as the night’s best performer.
Amber Holcomb – “We Found Love” by Rihanna
In terms of pure singing voice, Amber was the class of the 2013 Idols and I always thought that she had the best shot to win the competition. What stood out the most about Holcomb was her confidence on stage as she consistently seemed like she had been performing for years. On the tour, she did a duet of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” with Burnell Taylor, but it was her solo rendition of Rihanna’s other classic, “We Found Love” that was her best performance of the night. Hitting high notes with ease while also adding her own unique tone to the song contributed to it being a highlight of the show.
Angie Miller – “You Set Me Free” by Angie Miller
Just like you knew she would be, Angie Miller was not only the most anticipated performer of the evening but also the night’s best. Each song was performed brilliantly, starting with her sexy version of Jessie J’s “Mama Knows Best” and followed by her performance of two original songs. Clearly, the fans in attendance couldn’t wait for Miller to perform “You Set Me Free,” the song that proved she was the valedictorian of the 2013 class, but her follow-up, “Put It On Me” was also quite stellar. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing Miller follow the incredible commercial success of both Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Check out my interview with Angie Miller from the finale.
Kree Harrison – “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes
While I loved Kree on the show, I definitely wish her song selection had been slightly more “tour-friendly,” as I would have preferred to get up and dance instead of just soaking in her selection of ballads (which we all already did on the show). With that being said, her voice was both smooth and comforting. Kree’s solo set started with her original single “All Cried Out” which was good, but she really took over when she grabbed a tambourine to cover “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes. It was somewhat amusing to see the kids in the audience confused when Kree asked them to singalong if they knew the words, but for the older members of the audience who were aware of Alabama Shakes’ amazingness, Kree was spot-on. It was a great song choice. Check out my interview with Kree Harrison from the finale.
Candice Glover – “In The Middle” by Candice Glover
Candice is one of the most deserving Idol winners in recent memory and topping Kree Harrison, Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb and Janelle Arthur, is worthy of an award in and of itself. I couldn’t wait to see if Candice’s stage presence would match her spectacular singing voice and it certainly did. Her uptempo “In The Middle” single specifically showed a new side of her voice and she certainly lived up to her hype as the winner. Check out my interview with Candice Glover from the finale
The show itself was approximately two hours with a 15-minute intermission. It ended with a finale medley of “Gone” themed songs by all the contestants which included “Gone Gone Gone” by Phillip Phillips, “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson and “You’re Going To Miss Me When I’m Gone” (The Cup Song) by Anna Kendrick (which featured Aubrey and Angie doing the cup routine).
The show is definitely worth checking out, but this year’s version definitely skews to more of an older crowd which I think is a good thing.
The tour ran its last show yesterday. More information about is still available at AmericanIdol.com
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