Guilty pleasure is the only way to describe the American Idols Live! tour, which rolled into Long Island on July 16. While many people claim not to be fans of the manufactured pop stars, the audience consisted of a variety of enthusiastic fans with a wide age range.
There were tons of signs proclaiming devotion to a favorite “Idol,” and the evening’s individual performances probably did little to change anyone’s mind about who they came to see.
The men definitely outshined the women, and Taylor Hicks showed why he ended up on top. With no introduction, he made his way through the crowd singing “Jailhouse Rock.” He proceeded to sing “Hollywood Nights,” “Living for the City” and of course, “Do I Make You Proud.” He played the guitar, the harmonica, banged a tambourine and didn’t disappoint as he offered his infamous uncoordinated, but charming dancing. Of all the Idols, he seemed most comfortable in his skin and with the band.
While Taylor definitely conjured up his share of screams, Chris Daughtry certainly rivaled him there. Looking very much the rock star, Chris opened the second act of the show with his version of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” While Robert Plant need not worry about the competition yet, Chris’ version was more than respectable, and the crowd went wild. A cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” had the added flavor of his guitar playing. However, it was “Renegade” that really showed what this guy can really offer. Chris has some stage presence, but not enough; probably the reason he came in fourth.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Ace Young. Ace, who always looked nervous on TV, showed confidence and energy, particularly when he rocked out to “Harder To Breathe.” While showing off his trademark falsetto, he was able to exhibit a side of himself that probably would have given him a higher place finish than seventh had it been more apparent on the show.
The biggest disappointment of the night came when it was announced, finally, that Katharine McPhee had laryngitis and wouldn’t be performing. The timing of the announcement was tacky, since she was first runner up and had a lot of fans anticipating her performance. In place of Kat, the guys sang Guns N’ Roses’ “Patience” as her video played behind them. It seemed a bit like a memorial.
As for the rest of the performers, Elliot Yamin offered a mellow set highlighted by “Moody’s Mood for Love” but overall, while not unpleasant, it was pretty forgettable. His duet with Daughtry, however, on Nickelback’s “Savin’ Me” was one of the more enjoyable moments of the show. The vocals were barely audible over the cheering.
Bucky Covington evinced a lot of showmanship with an audience sing-a-long of “Drift Away.” He even managed to pull off the somewhat corny duet of “You’re the One That I Want” with Kellie Pickler. Pickler, Mandisa and Lisa Tucker, while all good singers, didn’t overwhelm. Paris Bennett seemed to be the female crowd favorite, but her Beyonce/”Flashdance” moves were more than a little contrived.
To close the two-hour-plus show, Hicks came back to the stage for an encore and then was joined by the rest of the crew for “We Are the Champions” and “Living in America.”
While last year’s tour was a bit more inspiring since it was the first year with both a strong country singer (Carrie Underwood) credible rock artists (Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis), these Idols still managed to make their show a fun night out on the town.