Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Idol Tour Reviews - Washington D.C.

The American Idols played in Washington D.C. Tuesday night. Although President Barack Obama was not there, Kris Allen wished him a Happy Birthday on stage. This was his second birthday greeting to Obama - earlier in the day Kris tweeted "Happy bday prez! And no I don't mean perez".

The Washington Post's Express Night Out noted that both Kris and Adam Lamberts were fan favorites at the concert and that they "seemed to excite fans in equal measure." Kris "kept ... the audience rapt", and Adam "seemed most skilled at holding the audience in the palm of his hand." (And big LOL at the comment at the top of the review about Adam's, um, passionate fans: "And if you think many of Lambert's fans don't still insist their guy got shafted, just do a Google search or two. Or read the comments that poured in after Express' interview with Allen was published earlier this week. There's passion there. And maybe just a hint of crazy for flavor.")

Also earning good reviews were Matt Giraud and Scott MacIntyre, who turned around the reviewer's opinion of them from the show, with their sets being termed "phenomenal".

Michael Sarver "had more verve live on stage than he did on TV", and Megan Joy gave "a reasonable attempt" at her Amy Whinehouse song but "came off more icily than she had on 'Idol.'" Lil Rounds "loosened up" and "brought poise". The review, however, thought Allison Iraheta had "the most disappointing turn" with a "lackluster" "So What", but she "recovered nicely, though, with scorching slices" on "Cry Baby" and "Barracuda". Anoop Desai and Danny Gokey "represented the status quo", which didn't seem to be a good thing because Anoop got the "insincerity" tag, and Danny was called "uninteresting".

The Washington Post had another review in its paper, and this reviewer was not as enthusiastic about the show, talking more about how the whole Idol thing - the show and concert - is bland and corporate (i.e. "nonconfrontational persons sing nonconfrontational songs that were written and made famous by other people. They wear clothes other people chose, and (it seems) repeat pre-approved choreography and patter. Plus there are lots of corporate spots (the massive screens surrounding the stage broadcast an extended car commercial pre-performance, featuring footage of all 10 finalists). Ugh."). There are also a bunch of paragraphs devoted to the Adam fans like one 20 year-old who said "He said in an interview that he likes men but I could be that 'lucky girl'! I am married, though."

A week later, the Culpeper Star Exponent published its review of the show. The reviewer said that Kris "proved he was worthy of the Idol title" and that his voice was "full and strong." I thought this comment was pretty astute: "Kris delivered 'Ain’t No Sunshine' with equal intensity and abandon, getting lost in the lyrics. It was obvious he was in his comfort zone behind either guitar or piano. It was as if we were guests in his studio watching as he immersed himself into the music. If only he would look up and acknowledge our presence — but then it just might break the spell." Adam ("The songs 'Starlight' (Muse) and 'Mad World' (Tears for Fears) allowed him to show off his impressive vocal range and ability") and Danny (sang "with conviction and emotion. I enjoyed his full, throaty voice and sincere delivery") also got good reviews. The reviewer, however, worried for Allison's voice. While acknowledging that she did well and took ownership of the stage, the reviewer noted that "not one of her songs varied in intensity. They were all fierce and it sometimes sounded like she was yelling. I hope she still has a voice by the end of the tour."

Also posted late was a review by MSNBC, saying that Kradison shined. Here's a great excerpt about Kris Allen:

Coming after a presentation as spectacular (in "spectacle" sense) as Lambert's, it would be easy for the actual winner to fall pancake-flat, but he doesn't. Instead, the grandiosity of the Lambert set makes the relative intimacy of the Allen set work better. They're so different that they don't suffer from comparisons. No, Kris Allen can't sing "Fashion" while stroking his own face with polished nails, but Adam Lambert couldn't sit at a piano and pull off Allen's affecting "Ain't No Sunshine."

Kris Allen, for all that he seems like a safe, slow-pitch alternative to the Adam Lambert knuckleball, is a solid musician and an amiable, charismatic performer. He moves easily on stage, with a sort of coffeehouse friendliness that doesn't shake rafters, but has its own appealing warmth. Guys like this may not get on the cover of Rolling Stone as easily as Adam Lambert, but guys like this sell records.

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