July 12, 2009

American Idols Live! Tour 2009

Buckle your seat belts because this is going to be one long post -- and one long ride. The whole night-of-a-lifetime starts Tuesday afternoon, around 3:45, 4ish. We're finally on our way to Tacoma Dome (where the event was held) and I'm probably the most excited I've ever been in my life. The show starts at 7, but we're pretty misled by the fact that the directions we printed out say forty-five minutes and it takes us an hour and a half to get there.

Anyway...we're driving along, and after a hugely boring ride we finally maneuver our way into the parking lot. Halleluiah. We also figure out that there might not be hordes of cars out there but there are hordes of people there. And so we join the really really long snaking line outside. (FYI, there were about four lines like this, for different entrances into the Dome.)

We skip the merchandise booth and find the entrance to our section of the stadium.

There's a huge screen behind the stage, and two TV screens high up above the performers on either side. Before the show, they're broadcasting the music videos of past Idol contestants (meaning Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, David Cook), and so we entertain ourselves by watching. Soon enough, we figure out they're playing them on repeat. The screen breaks every now and then to promote the Idols tour book ($25??? WHY?) and the Season 8 CD ("available exclusively at Walmart").

Finally, after my excitement has reached levels that have to be considered potentially dangerous, the whole place goes black and this fabulous screen lights up with pictures from the show, an opportunity to win backstage passes (with our luck, I can say that we were unsuccessful), and finally, the screen projects the tour logo and goes black.

A short intro plays on the screen ("10. Michael Sarver." That kind of thing.)

Cue entrance music. The Idols performed in order of their elimination from the show, so Michael Sarver got to go first. He kicked things off well with "I Just Want a Girl" by Gavin DeGraw and "Closer," by Ne-Yo.

He nailed both. The TVs zoomed in on him and the screen (see picture below) displayed graphics and shapes that fit with the music.

Cue Megan Joy's intro. The crowd wasn't all that excited for her, but she was better than she ever was on the show, in my opinion. Maybe it was her song choices: Corrine Bailey Rae's classic "Put Your Records On" and "Tears Dry On Their Own" by Amy Winehouse.
I really liked her set. It was kind of alternative/folk...and though the crowd didn't respond as well to her numbers as well as they did to Michael's, it was still very enjoyable.

She did a whole lot of justice to both songs. I wouldn't be doing any justice to her set if I didn't mention the amazing graphics on the screen behind her -- for her second number, they were so sweet: kind of like a mix of cartoon and anime and adorable-ness.

Scott MacIntyre came in next with Keane's "Bend and Break" and Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" (which, by the way, was a David Archuleta favorite last season). I wasn't a fan of Scott on the show, but I have to say this -- Scott and the piano nailed both. He has some astounding piano-playing skills for not being able to see the keys.

You have to love the special effects and the graphics on the screen. I tell you, the highway/street/traffic background for "A Thousand Miles" was brilliant.

Lil Rounds got the crowd going more than anyone before her. What say you to a Mary J. Blige medley ("Be Without You," "Just Fine"), a bit of Alicia Keys ("No One"), and a stunning Beyonce cover ("Single Ladies")? I say YES.
She's such a talented performer, I still remember her audition. She's a brilliant singer as well. It doesn't hurt that she worked with the choreographer who did Beyonce's "Single Ladies" music video.

She dished out "Single Ladies" karaoke-style, with the words on the screen behind her -- providing for a ton more energy and enthusiasm in the crowd. You have to love her set.

Number six, Anoop Desai. He chimed in with the legendary Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind," which was a hit for him during country week. He added more Ne-Yo with "Mad" (amazing graphics for this one -- raindrops falling on a puddle of water) and closed with "My Prerogative" (Bobby Brown), which was one of the highlights of his time on Idol.

(Can someone explain the reasoning behind the glasses...?)

Matt Giraud -- number five. It's astonishing to see the talent in each and every contestant; he performed Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," "Georgia on My Mind," which was a big hit for him during Hollywood Week, and "You Found Me" by The Fray (which is one of their more recent singles). He brought out the piano for the last two numbers and definitely satisfied all the Matt fans out there.

Somehow I have a lack of Matt pictures. Hmm.

Next, Megan Joy and Lil Rounds dueted with "Can't Take My Eyes off You"...

Michael Sarver had another number to himself ("Tell Her About It")...

Michael, Scott, Anoop, and Matt had a group number ("Suspicious Minds")...

and then the six who had already performed did a group song again ("Beggin'").

There was a twenty-minute intermission after these group numbers, during which time we tried to snag backstage passes and failed. We also had a breadstick and a half apiece (which wasn't a very good dinner, but none of us were really hungry anyway in that excitement).

Enough about breadsticks. Back to the show. How about some Allison Iraheta? This little red-haired rocker got every single person's attention with her covers of P!nk's "So What," Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby" (which she performed the week she was eliminated), and "Barracuda" by Heart. If this ain't rock, I don't know what is. This girl can SING.

Danny Gokey performed Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T.," "Maria Maria" (Santana), and two Rascal Flatts songs ("What Hurts the Most" and "My Wish").

Before his last number, which was "My Wish," he gave a short speech calling all dreamers and telling them to chase their dreams and never let them slip away.

As soon as the screen started playing Adam Lambert's intro, it was like someone had turned up the volume. Talk about dramatic. The screaming alone must have been audible from outside. It was crazy. The whole place was foggy and black and red strobe lights were everywhere. Every single person was up on their feet.

He started off with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," which was huge for him on rock week.

He also performed Muse's "Starlight."

And then his cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World."

His "little sister," Miss Allison, came out again to perform Foghat's "Slow Ride" with him -- which blew everyone away and had the crowd going even crazier (if that's possible).

And then --  medley of "Life on Mars," "Fame," and Let's Dance."

Next, we were treated to the softer side of rock by season 8 winner Kris Allen in his plaid shirt and jeans. He performed Kanye West's "Heartless," with a silvery curtain silhouetting the band behind him.

He also performed "No Boundaries," the coronation song, because he had to, (which has been scrapped from the song list and replaced since the Sacramento show two days ago due to unfavorable response), during which everyone sat down, disappointed. Poor guy.

He added in Matchbox Twenty's "Bright Lights" and Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," which was really popular for him on the show. His closing song? The Beatles' "Hey Jude." (Near the end, the rest of the top 10 joined in and then, once the song had ended and the stage had gone black, dispersed to get ready for the final number.)

The entire audience was up on its feet for the finale, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." The disco balls were slowly lowered and bubbles streamed onstage.

It's astounding to look back and see how much better each contestant has gotten and how much more confident they are away from the judges -- it produces a marvelous show.

I've never had a more amazing experience and I have to say, I'm never going to forget this. It was absolutely spectacular and mind-blowing and every astounding adjective you can think of to describe a night so magical -- a night filled with music, a night held to celebrate each of these phenomenal singers who have ridden the train for so long, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel that they've finally reached.


Priya said...

Great post! :P

Melissa said...

Great post, Maya! I'm as far removed from an AI fan as you can possibly get (I may have watched a total of two episodes, like in my life), but this was really well-written and made me feel like I was right there screaming along with you. Glad you had a great night!

Erin said...

thank you for the recap! wowww sounds sooo amazing........wowww.

Beth Kephart said...

You are not only a poet.

You are a journalist, too. Make that a photo-journalist!

Sarah Anne said...

Sounds like you had a good time. :)

Alex said...

Great recap! I loved the photos, and you were so detailed when you described everything that happened.

It sounds so cool; I wish I could go!!

Odessa said...

wow maya, that's quiet a post! it sounds like a great night. i don't watch tv, hence know very little about AI but i'm so happy that you were able to experience something like this. thanks for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

I WANTED TO GO! *sobbing* that looked amazing.
Poor Kris. But I don't feel THAT bad for him... he won the title, Adam didn't, Adam can put up with more praise.

January said...

Wow! Glad you had a great time. Love the photos.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

THANK YOU FOR THE HEADS UP, MAYA!!! Squeeeeee! I loved the recap and videos. Woohoo!

Back to watch Let's Dance again. :~)

Sherry said...

Wow, this was the next best thing to being there. Thanks for all the work you did to post all of this. Still a Kris fan!