July 2, 2008

I [Heart] David Cook

I went to the opening night of the American Idols 2008 summer tour last night in Glendale. With few exceptions, the performances were either as good or better than they were on the show which made for a very enjoyable concert.

The performers were presented in ascending order starting with 10th place finisher Chikezie. His vocals were strong and he really put some personality and performance into it which started the evening out well.

Chikezie finished up his three songs and out came Ramiele who as every bit as lack-lustre as she'd been on TV and wearing pants that gave the illusion she had thighs bigger than mine, which she obviously does not. She mumbled her way through her three songs and she looked pretty awkward trying to work the stage.
Next up was Michael Johns. He couldn't resist the siren song of Freddy Mercury so he started off with a Queen medley, then tried his hand once more at Aerosmith's "Dream On" (which, incidentally, I recently heard Brooke White do a version of when I downloaded her pre-Idol CD and I have to say, hers is superior to his, but that's neither here nor there I suppose). He was better at it in full length form, I'll give him that, but still I wished he'd spent more time being bluesy and less time trying to imitate other artists. Speaking of bluesy, he wrapped it up with a touch of "It's All Wrong, But It's Alright." That was my favorite number of his from the show and he worked it pretty damn strong in concert.

Kristy Lee Cook was probably quite enjoyable for the country fans in the audience though I myself recognized only one of her songs ("Proud To Be An American" - natch!). I thought it was weird that she wore a top she'd worn on the show, I think if I were going on tour I'd wear something a billion people, including every single person in attendance at the concert, hadn't already seen me in - at least for opening night. Maybe that's just me.

Carly was awesome and in person looked about half the size she appeared to be on TV. I don't think anyone will be speculating about whether or not she's pregnant now. They may be speculating about whether she's had a head injury though since she chose to wear black leather fingers-only gloves. In every other way she looked fierce as hell but those gloves are ridiculous and since Paris Hilton has worn them on numerous occasions, she really should have known better.

She was in very strong voice and worked the stage beautifully. She also gave Brooke White a sweet and funny introduction. Brooke was raised up through the front part of the stage sitting at a baby grand piano and nailing "Let It Be." Then she slipped her shoes back on and awkwardly toddled out to the front of the catwalk (even making an "I'm Too Sexy" joke poking adorable fun of herself) where she donned her acoustic guitar and sang "1, 2, 3, 4" during which she commented that snapping is the new clapping which I thought was kind of funny. She followed that up with another sit-down at the piano for "Yellow" which she covered on her CD as well. I love her version of it (I've never been much of a fan of Cold Play's original) and was thrilled with the performance and the beautiful twinkling stars on the big screen behind her.

When she finished "Yellow" she gave a(nother) shout out to Idol Gives Back and then the previous 5 performers joined her on stage for a group number before intermission.

Intermission was painful with the obnoxious Pop Tarts/Guitar Hero guy screaming into the microphone for about 30 minutes and then two guys from the stage crew came out to have a Guitar Hero battle that was as boring as it sounds. But one of the guys, Neil, was kind of cute. Then they showed a commercial that the Idols did for the newest Guitar Hero (which appears to include drums and possibly singing? I don't know, it was hard to tell from the commercial) where they dressed up in '70s costumes and played/sang "American Band." David Cook was in the commercial for a quick second but was clearly added after the rest of the folks taped their portion together. That was so obvious it seemed a little sad - like he's really busy having an awesome career so he only had 15 minutes to plop on a bad wig and play one riff while everyone else has nothing going on right now so they had all the time in the world to hang out in hair and make-up all day and shoot a very intricate music video.

Anyway, once the Pop Tart dude finished giving a copy of Guitar Hero away to a kid who already had front row seats and therefore had enough going for him and didn't need to win shit too, the intermission was over and the show started up again with Jason Castro sitting on a stool with his ukulele plucking away at "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." There was a bit of business with a stage hand in the middle of the song that Jason tried to explain after the fact but the crowd was loud and Jason is not so the only word I understood was "ukulele." He then mentioned that he was going to sing a song that helped all his dreams come true, a song he'd song many, many times during the audition process but that never made it on the air - "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. He did a great job with that and then wrapped up with "Daydream" which he prefaced by saying something cute and typically Castroesque.

Syesha was a bit of a let-down for me. Her voice wasn't all that clear (a bit of the mumbling problem Ramiele always suffers from) and she didn't seem quite comfortable on the stage. She appeared to be wearing a cheap wig for reasons I cannot fathom and either she's pregnant or the dress she was wearing did her no favors at all when the billowing black panels in the front blew apart to reveal the silver satin under-dress laying in an unflattering fashion on her stomach. She sang "Umbrella" and...two other songs. I don't have any idea what those were. I think she was the biggest disappointment of the evening for me because I thought she was so much stronger on the show than she was in concert.

Archuleta emerged from the stage just as Brooke had, only he was accompanied by the smoke machine from hell which obscured him for the first half of his song. The one about angels. He also sang "Apologize" and a couple of other songs (heck if I can remember what they were though...jeez, my memory is really shot when I can't remember something a mere 12 hours later!) then gave a genuinely sweet intro for David Cook.

David Cook was awesome in every possible way and I seriously would like to marry him. He opened it up with a full length version of "Hello," then moved into "The Time of My Life." He took a moment to tell the crowd that the first thing he bought himself after he won was a video camera which he brought with him and intends to use to document the tour so he had them turn the house lights up so he could get a good shot of the entire audience. Just before he put the camera away he caught a sign in the crowd (right in the front no less) that said "I Demand a Recount." He read the sign aloud and very kindly said "for what it's worth, so do I actually."

Once he put the camera away, he told the crowd that he'd gotten good news today from his family - his brother's tumor has stopped growing. That got one of the biggest cheers of the night from the crowd, which I thought was nice because if anything deserves a cheer it's the fight against cancer for sure. Anyway, he dedicated the Foo Fighters "Hero" to his brother and then played that Aerosmith song from Armageddon that I have a total mental block on. He left the stage then and waited the requisite 90 seconds while we all dutifully screamed and clapped for an encore. His one-song encore was "Billie Jean" which he sang perfectly.

David Cook plays to the audience like a pro; like he's been playing stadium concerts his entire life. He is charismatic and fun and in perfect voice every inch of the way. It is absolutely the right thing that he's a star, it seems like it is what he was born to do.

Anyway, as he left the stage everyone else came back out for a group number and after a quick change of shirt he joined them. The song was something about not wanting the music to stop. Halfway through the song Cookie noticed a woman in the front row waving a souvenir shirt so he motioned to her and she threw it up to him. He tossed it over his shoulder then went on with the song. The song wrapped and the house lights came back up and everyone started heading for the exits and about 2 minutes later David came back out onto the stage, borrowed a Sharpie from a stagehand, signed the shirt then handed it back down to the owner. He did that quietly, slyly, not making a big deal, just being a nice guy. Then he gave a wave to a couple of people who noticed him and shouted or woo'd and went backstage again.

I love him.

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