Monday, September 6

Review: Des Moines American Idol Live Tour 2010

The American Idol Live Tour 2010 Des Moines, Iowa version proved I am smarter than the average bear. I said it before the finals; I said it after the crowning of the new idol and I’ll say it again after witnessing the top ten performers live on stage at Wells Fargo Arena August 26.

Lee Dewyze didn’t deserve the title. If I ever doubted it, he proved it in his brutal act of slaughter committed on a perfectly nice Kings of Leon song. Dewyze obviously gained some stage presence during the tour, actually working the crowd. His passion for music and gratitude to fans is loud and clear—unlike a few sour vocal notes. Many sounded loud and off key—or “pitchy” as the infamous judges so labeled. His Halleluiah rendition flickered with some potential but the energy eventually waned along with the right pitch.

Kara Dio-freaking-Guardi and the American Idol machine owe Casey James an apology. As soon as she drooled over the tall lean Southerner he was cast as a sex symbol. Judges reinforced that role week after week. Maybe that sexy image carried him to third place but OMG, this guy is talented. Vocally, James was more than solid showing a bluesy twang sound for his solos and a deep sweet harmony in a duet with Michael Lynche. As a guitarist, he is way up in the ranks. After shedding the TV show stereotype, it’s clear he is the real deal. Instead of creeping into the top three as a wanna-be Idol, if voters got a glimpse of his captivating style outside the patronizing judge’s box, the phones might still be ringing. To avoid hypocrite status, I’ll offer up my own apology. I liked him on the show. After seeing his live performance, thoughts of a new groupie group kept tugging for my attention.

The master songstress wowed fans with the raw emotion of Up to the Mountain. That one Crystal Bowersox song made the night for me. Ticket price, driving, parking and any pre-concert drama easily dissolved and melded into tribute to the conviction and truth oozing from her one-of-a-kind sound. Her flawless voice and comfortable style filled the stage and drew the audience into her zone.

Highlights of the concert

Up to the Mountain
• Inspiring flawless vocal quality with a bluesy tone     

• Video graphics added to the spiritual elements

• Mentioning her son in the lyrics made her
  connection believable

• Contemporary cover

• Original interpretation close to a gospel rendition

The whole Casey James set

• Better vocals than the TV show ever produced

• Natural unassuming style allowed the music to be the focus

• Proved he could be a star in more than one genre

• Master guitarist on electric and acoustic

The James-Lynche duet

• Contrasting styles made a perfect blend for romantic ballad

(It felt like they were making love to the words they sang)
• Both totally committed to emotion in lyrics, raw emotion and credibility

• Fused harmony caused chills; sounded like they’ve worked together for years

• Made the duet their own with unique style, each individually strong w/o taking away impact of duo

• Great audience connection with intimate tone

Siobahn Magnus &  Paint it Black

• Close to the stunning TV performance with contrast of solid vocals

• Eerie personal emotion attached to the lyrics

• Magnus' moniker fashion w tu-tu type fluffed short skirt and the infamous combat boot ensemble

• Sensual yet almost hostile at times in the Stones’ song

• Performance underscored status as a one-of-a-kind creative artist. More of a celebration of the arts display-not just a song.

• Unbelievable emotional, vocal and physical energy

• Graphics painting different colors on the background screen of set enhanced strength of lyrics rather than distracted (the case for most of the performances)

Nice surprises for the night

Tim Urban somewhat decent. Lacked vocal energy but not annoying. Full deep tones on his Coldplay cover

Aaron Kelly has matured. Sounded good coming close to hitting most of the notes from his Rascal Flats’ hallmark covers. Much more comfortable and confident on stage

Katie Stevens transformed from school girl dressed for prom into naughty teen vixen with a sassy attitude. Impressive vocals.

Michael Lynche in his element with bluesy ballads. Much more believable when he sticks with the strength of storytelling through music.

Worst moments for the night - besides the measley 5000-6000 people in attendance

Didi Benami most obvious that she didn’t belong with this group of talented singers. Rather than creating her own style by becoming absorbed in a song, she tried to play different characters revealing she is still mostly absorbed in herself.

Andrew Garcia just tries too hard to be something he isn’t. Unique creative stylistic twists got him on the big stage but the depth isn’t there.

Lee’s voice went from the television verson of graveling and smokey to a more strained warbly and burnt out quality. Still has the urge to hitch up his pants a few times.

All of Siobahn’s other songs in her set. Seems like a hard rocker wanna-be then the next minute she’s impersonating a Sara McClaclan-type singer. Seems disjointed and confusing rather than diverse and refreshing.

Numbers 4-10 group trying to do The Climb with Miley Cyrus. They didn’t totally crash and burn but didn’t reach the summit either. Meh. Yawn. Time for a potty break. Possibly could sell as elevator music tune.

FAQ (flashing thoughts during boring performances)

• Is Michael Lynche really that muscular or is he a fatty?

• Who is the real Siobahn? A creative artist interpreting lyrics or a raging headbanger screaming the words?

• Is Katie gonna be called out by righteous self serving religious types for her way beyond teeny booper sexy moves and wardrobe? Does Katie’s mom know she dresses like that?

• Why were Didi and Anthony in the Top 10 ahead of talented singers like Lily and Katelyn?

What’s with all the covers? When can Idol get real and expect original music and musicians rather than just singers?

• Did Crystal act on her Casey crush?

• Do Aaron and Katie have a sibling-type relationship or a kissy-face teen relationship?

• Why does Tim Urban have a great voice with no energy?

• Are Idol singers really a big happy family like they suggest or is there an outsider (Didi) in the group?

Trivial Idol trivia

• Casey makes three. Along with Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox, Casey James recently landed a contract with Sony.

• With judges Simon and Ellen going bye bye, will Bret Michaels become a new/old school judge? Is it true about Mariah Carey? Have they thought about approaching the omniscient Betty White?

Crystal got her teeth fixed now she just needs a few more fashion tips. C’mon now girl, you don’t have to strut out in Katie spikes or Siobahn boots but give us a little sense of style.

My brilliant predictions for the top three from 2010? Repeat results from last season. Hmmmm. Who won last time out? No, it was not Adam Lambert. It was some guy named . . . Kris or Chris . . . right?
Just like last season, a year from now we’ll be congratulating Bowersox for her album sales and buying tickets to see her in concert. Music fans will be like . . . Lee who? No 2 will once again be number 1 while Casey will easily outshine the voter’s choice of Lee Dewyze.

By the way people, Adam Lambert rolled into town over Labor Day weekend taking over Simon Estes Amphitheater and rocked out to a delirious crowd filled with its share of Glamberts.

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