“I’m home! Nothing beats the Georgia sky!”
That was Lauren Alaina’s joyous greeting to the sold-out Georgia crowd at the Gwinnett Arena Tuesday night. And it was hard to beat the depth and breadth of season 10’s talent. This year’s victory lap of a concert tour proved that across the board, from R&B (a not-too-screechy Jacob Lusk doing a fine Luther Vandross) to hard rock (a captivating James Durbin) to jazz (Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart sparking with “Moanin’ “) to dance pop (Naima Adedapo pulled off a far better “On the Floor” than J. Lo, though that’s not saying too much from a vocal standpoint.)
While I shot photos from my seat as you can see below, Robb Cohen took some amazing professional shots from the pit here. The best one is James Durbin flying through the air.
The audience included plenty of girls, ages 5 to 15; parents; and grandparents – the core audience nowadays for “American Idol.” There was a paucity of people who normally attend concerts in the age range of 15 to 35. Yet it’s always amusing to watch 70 year olds boogeying to a Guns ‘n Roses or Muse cover by Durbin. Durbin’s only misstep for me was uttering the word “Hotlanta” but he was the only person who did it tonight.
The crowd reacted strongly to the guys more so than the ladies, save for Lauren. Even Paul McDonald’s single solo cover of “Maggie May” got more audience noise than anything Pia Toscano did, though she was on stage significantly more and even threw us her so-so single “This Time.”
I enjoyed how they mixed the orders up and throwing in more group sings. It was less predictable than usual though just as scripted. It didn’t feel as dragged out as last year, though that has more to do with the talent. The show was about the same length: two hours, 20 minutes, with an intermission. The tri-level stage was simple, the back-up band proficient (and acknowledged only by Paul and Casey), the sound loud (and sometimes blaring) and the LED screens entertaining enough. Those screens even featured lyrics, matched up in sync with the music, as in Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone,” sung by Scotty (improvisation certainly not allowed in that case.)
Near the end, Scotty appeared and noted that he had seen his favorite baseball team the Atlanta Braves last night. And because there was a lengthy rain delay, he got to go into the back and meet the guys. He even got a picture, he said, with Chipper Jones!
Interestingly, outside, in past years, Q100 and Star 94 had tents promoting “Idol.” This year? The only radio station that bothered was country station Kicks 101.5.
And here’s the finale medley of “Here I Go Again,” “Faithfully,” “Walk This Way” and a mashup of “Any Way You Want It” and “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ ” You can hear the lady who I just pictured above yelling “I love you Paul!” and such. And watch Scotty join James and Casey in some goofy dance moves: