FIRST PERSON | Tuesday night I joined some 13,000 “American Idol” fans who converged at the Gwinnett Center Arena north of Atlanta to take in the Season 10 American Idol tour. Atlanta is the 15th city on the 47-city tour. If you’re holding tickets for a show yet to come, here’s what you can expect.
The top 11 wowed a sold-out crowd. The show began at 7 p.m. and wrapped about three hours later, delivering an amazing 29 songs to an audience that spent a good part of the evening dancing in the aisles.
The five women – Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart and Naima Adedapo – opened the show amidst a kaleidoscope of lights and spots roaming the crowd. Paul McDonald followed as he dusted off Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” showing the crowd his swag as he roamed across the stage.
The highlight of the first half-hour came when Stefano Langone took the stage with the rocking Bruno Mars hit “Grenade.” Stefano took just a few seconds to ramp up the energy level even higher when he launched into his rendition of Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again.” Four divas – Pia, Thia, Haley and Naima – dressed in sexy silver-sparkled black dresses swayed onto the stage and sang backup. Just into the second verse, Stefano pulled his shirt off and brought the mostly female crowd to its feet with a giant scream that pinned the sound level meter on my iPod Touch.
James Durbin, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk and Paul McDonald next joined Stefano for an awesome presentation of Neon Trees’ “Animal.” The band, which was never introduced, had two keyboard artists, a drummer, a bass guitarist and an electric guitarist – which was sometimes replaced with an acoustic guitar or a mandolin, depending on the song.
The evening cranked a notch higher when Naima took the stage. She dressed in a two-piece outfit with pants cut up to the hip on both sides and gathered in at the ankles. With smiles all the way and her hair flying in every direction, she did a cartwheel following into a full split as she sang and performed a high-energy African dance.
Throughout the evening, the Idols each took a turn in the spotlight. Thia in a royal blue dress and Pia in bright red accompanied Lauren on her first headliner. Casey followed with his bass fiddle, laying down a scat blues piece that made a nice complement to the rest of the evening’s music. The entire gang, absent season winner Scotty McCreery, took the show into intermission.
Fifteen minutes later James Durbin had his spotlight moment, dressed in a blue plaid shirt and decorated jeans that gave him just the right ratty look, complete with his trademark “tail” dangling from his waist and red knitted cap. Two black stripes below his left eye added to his man-up attitude as he took his time making his way to the stage from the rear of the arena, cordoned off by a platoon of security people. On stage he knocked out pure metal and tossed his neckerchief into the crowd as he wrapped up the second song. The crowd stood at attention, rocking, for his entire performance.
Jacob Lusk took his spotlight moment with a Cee Lo Green piece backed up by nine Idols – yet with Scotty still missing. Haley sang, strutted and swayed across the stage with two numbers in her spotlight moment. Finally, at around 9:20 p.m., a video of season finale shows recounted the winners, beginning with Kelly Clarkson and ending with Scotty, who took the stage amid a screaming, standing ovation with the song “I Love You This Big.” Scotty had been “reserved” for the last segment of the show, acknowledging the stardom he has already earned. The entire crew backed him up and gave him the stage for the balance of the evening.
A Randy Jackson video introduced the evening finale that promised the Idols would “rock your city.” And (spoiler-free ending) … it did. The Idols repeat the show Wednesday and Thursday in North Carolina. Check the “American Idol” site for the tour schedule.