May 25 Review | Season 4 Index
American Idol Season 4 (2005)
2005 Concert Review - July 27, MCI Center
So here we are at Stalag MCI...er...the MCI Center, where the guards keep an eye on their prisoners by shining "Pop-Tarts" spotlights on them before the show begins. Argh! I am not a Pop Tart, I am a free woman! Okay, enough Hogan's Heroes and Prisoner references. On to the show...which was fifteen minutes late getting started. Of course. To compensate, Bo and Scott meander out in front of the stage for a few minutes and whip the audience into a frenzy just by standing there and waving. [If all you're interested in is Bo's performance, skip down to near the bottom of the review. :o)]
The arena is about four-fifths full, which isn't bad at all, but isn't quite the "sell-out" show that they kept hinting about during A.I.. Here's the format: Each performer comes out on a huge white stage and sings anywhere from two to four songs. The backing band is behind them, up a short flight of steps to keep them out of the way of the singers, because heaven forbid the singers interact with them. The backing vocals are all canned - why they couldn't bother to hire backup singers is beyond me. Behind the band is a huge screen that shows shots of the performers from the show, similar to the "funeral video" they'd get when they were voted off, and then the name of the singer in huge letters in case you 're so clueless as to not know who you're listening to. On either side of the stage are two smaller screens that show close-ups of the performers as they sing, which is helpful for the majority of the audience that's too far away to see these people clearly.
The singers are sort of, but not quite, brought out in the order in which they were eliminated. Every one feels the need to yell, "Washington, D.C., how ya doin' tonight?" and gush about how glad they are to be in the nation's capital. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get on with it.
The band comes on stage first and plays the obligatory A.I. theme. They're followed by:
Jessica Sierra (sings "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Shop Around"): Eh. She's neither as growly nor as exciting as she was during the show, and she has no idea how to work this huge stage. I think she's tired and/or sick, and I'm wondering if that's the reason why the show was late getting started. Ho-hum. Next.
Anwar Robinson (sings "A House Is Not a Home" and "What a Wonderful World"): Zzzzzzzzz...huh? Oh. The first song is fine, the second song Mr. Melisma ruins by wailing all over the place for the second half of the piece. Just like he did on the show. Think I'll go back to sleep now.
Constantine Maroulis (sings "Hard To Handle," "My Funny Valentine," and "Bohemian Rhapsody"): I am now knocked out of my slumber by thousands of screaming fans. Hee. He comes out in a black shirt and pants with a red jacket that makes him look like a Vegas act, but hey, it's Constantine. Squeeeeeeee!!! Here's a man who knows how to work the stage. He also gives one trademark kick, four or five mugs to the camera, and one stuck-out tongue. His set was probably the most challenging of anyone's, because he goes from rock to smoky jazz to theater glam, and that ain't easy. Even though "Bo Rhap" is truncated (as it was on the show), he totally makes me forget J.D.'s performance of "We Are the Champions" on Rock Star, for which I thank him profusely. This is how you perform Queen, folks. 'Nough said.
Now that my ears are ringing, I remember that we brought special ear plugs with us that reduce the sound levels while still allowing you to hear everything clearly. I fish them out of my purse and put them in. Ahhhh. That's better.
Nikko Smith (sings "Incomplete," "Part-Time Lover," and some boring Justin Timberlake song): The most exciting thing about his set is watching the 8- to 10-year old girls in front of us dancing around to "Part-Time Lover." Um, have your parents told you what that song is about? Eeuw. Vocally, he's fine - and he even shows he can dance better than any other person on stage tonight - but after a while he loses my attention span entirely, even when he tosses his hat into the front row of the audience. If he does that every night, then I guess the space for the backup singers was taken up by his hat collection.
Scott Savol (sings "Against All Odds," a duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with Jessica, and "She's Gone"): He comes out wearing a Washington Wizards jersey, bless his serial killer heart. He gets the award for most improved sense of humor: "Do you want to see me dance? Well, it's not gonna happen. This stage could not withstand that activity." Bwah! Anyway, the performances? Very good on the first and third songs, creepy on the duet. I mean, it's scary watching him and Jessica alternate the line, "I need you now tonight." Just...no. I don't want to think about it. Just as I did for the show, though, I close my eyes and it's fine. Whew!
Nadia Turner (sings some obscure Christian rock song, "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me," and "Try a Little Tenderness"): She comes out in a short denim dress, playing an electric guitar. Her hair takes up half the stage, her legs take up the other half, so she can just stand there and she has all the stage presence she needs. I don't know the first song, but she rawks, even if she only plays the guitar when she's not singing. Then she takes off the denim dress to reveal an even shorter black dress - oh, my! - and she proceeds to give her scary Nadia faces for the last two songs and skip around the stage in high heels. How do people do that? She gives the only "oops" moment of the show when she kicks the fallen-over microphone stand to try to catch it with her hand, and instead kicks it toward the cameraman in the pit. She doesn't miss a beat, though, and neither does the cameraman. Mike and I want her on Rock Star, but she's probably too Tina Turner-esque for INXS. Too bad. She's what that show needs - a female rocker with attitude and no tattoos.
We now have an intermission, and every woman in the audience heads for the toilets.
The band comes back and plays the A.I. theme again, only this time we're treated to a montage of scenes from the show, including Constantine's ouster and most of the bad auditionees. Snore. The perfect introduction for:
Anwar Robinson (first half of "Superstition"): He plays keyboard for this. He's fine, but he of course ruins it by starting to wail. Someone put him out of my misery, please. Thankfully, he only sings about half the song before he's joined by:
Vonzell Solomon (sings last half of "Superstition," "I Have Nothing," "Best of My Love," and "I'm Every Woman"): She's wearing this sickly greenish-yellow dress, short in front and long in back, and when the purple spotlights hit her its all sorts of ugly. I think she's as tired as Jessica, because she has none of the pep she had on the show, and that only emphasizes the fact that she's not that exciting of a singer after all. Sorry, Vonzell. I wanted to love you here, but all I could think was, "Whitney Houston songs should be banned from A.I. forever."
Anthony Fedorov (sings "Every Time You Go Away," some unrecognizable Peabo Bryson song, and the Latin-pop song he did in semi-finals, which I'm too tired to look up now): I wanted to love Anthony, too. His voice is the most improved of any of the singers, and he seemed genuinely awed by the enthusiasm of the audience. But all he did was walk back and forth on stage, shaking his hips and throwing out kisses and little hand waves to the audience. This just doesn't work in an arena. He and Anwar should be in a little club together, where people drink and smoke cigarettes and say, "Wow, that boy is good. Why doesn't he have a recording contract?" Which I think is (partly) what they were doing, anyway, before A.I.. Sigh.
Bo Bice (sings "I Don't Want To Be," "Vehicle," some indecipherable but totally rockin' song, and "Sweet Home Alabama"): Now we have the weirdest moment of the evening. Everyone in the audience is screaming their heads off. The sound levels are boosted to compensate. And Bo's voice loses its depth. This is not to say he was bad. Not at all. But his voice sounded thinner than it did on the show. A gravelly second tenor sounds different from a gravelly baritone. I tried taking out the ear plugs for a few moments, and it wasn't any different. So I don't know what was up with that, except the sound crew should be smacked. Anyway...the set. He comes out sporting a nearly full beard and mustache to go along with his long hippy hair, looking every bit the Southern rocker that he is. He does a decent job with the first two songs, running back and forth and twirling both himself and the microphone stand around on stage. Then he's given a psychedelic electric guitar (presumably from his own extensive collection) and he absolutely tears the house down. This is what he needed on A.I.. I can't understand the words at all because the sound levels are insane - I think it was called "Voodoo" something - but this man should never be without a guitar in his hands. Ever. He gets the award for most exciting performance of the night. "Sweet Home Alabama" was almost sedate in comparison, but was ten times better than Brandon's version on Rock Star because instead of attacking the song, Bo looks like he's enjoying himself. Come to think of it, that's what's missing in most of the Rock Star performances. Bo isn't suited to INXS music, but I sure would like to see him, Nadia, and Constantine on that show just once. Bravo.
Carrie Underwood: High-pitched screams erupt from every pre-teen girl in the audience, which shows me who her fans were. Ugh. We manage to sit through "Sin Wagon" and discover that a) her stage presence hasn't improved at all, and b) she still can't dance. Then she begins to sing "Independence Day" and I think my head will implode, so we clamber over the empty chairs in front of us to get out. Unfortunately, we both have to use the rest rooms, so we're subjected to the rest of that song plus her butchery of Heart's "Alone," where not only is she behind the tempo for the entire song, but she's also uncharacteristically flat. ARGH! I understand from reviews of other concerts that Bo then joined her for "God Bless the Broken Road," and then she sang "Inside Your Hoohaw" (ummm..."Inside Your Heaven") and was joined by the rest of the performers during the final chorus. Then everyone sang two group songs. But really, I would have had a seizure by the time they got to that point, and we wanted to hit the Metro before 40,000 other people did. What's shocking is that more people didn't join us. Either Washington is brain dead, or everyone was so numbed by Carrie that they couldn't move. Or both.
So there you have it. Was it fun? Yeah, I guess so, for about half the show, anyway. Would I do it again next year? Not a chance. I love me some Bo, Constantine, and Nadia, but not enough to pay those prices again.
Review © 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn. For comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 25 Review | Season 4 Index