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‘Idol Live’ tour: scaled back but still pumping

Phillip Phillips did a five-song set, including "Supersition," "Nice & Slow," "Someone That I Used to Know," "Volcano" and "Home." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Phillip Phillips did a five-song set, including "Supersition," "Nice & Slow," "Someone That I Used to Know," "Volcano" and "Home." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

The “Idol” tour organizers, who saw the ratings of the show decline more than 25%, appeared to scale back their ambitions this summer.

At Gwinnett Arena last night, they used a slightly smaller arena configuration than in past years, reducing capacity by several hundred seats. The stage set up was one of the smallest I’ve ever seen for the show. The tour organizers seemed to skimp on lighting, keeping the stage very very dark, often placing the singers in shifty shadows. The show itself seemed a bit shorter than in the past: about two hours total, not counting  intermission. And there were reports the contestants took a pay cut from season’s 10’s crew.

Yet the show sold out easily, which makes me think they left some money on the table.  And clearly, this is a pretty talented crew that kept the pace brisk and the crowd on its feet for much of the time.  Not surprisingly, Colton Dixon received a very loud response every time he popped up while DeAndre Brackensack wins hardest working, showing up 12 times on stage. (I laughed when Colton said, “It’s great to be in Phillips’ home town!” Distance between Duluth and Phillips’ hometown of Leesburg? 155 miles.)

Personally, I sat there feeling old because I’ve now attended the “Idol” tour every single year since 2002. That’s more than 24 hours of my life taken up watching this concert.

But I still enjoyed it. The set list was decidedly focused on more recent songs, at least more than I can ever recall before. Of the 31 tunes sung, 24 were released the past 10 years. The few older songs were mostly featured on “Idol” before, including a re-energized “Proud Mary” by Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Pink, Bruno Mars and Adele were all represented twice. Last year, of the 34 songs sung, 21 were from the past decade.

Two artists from Georgia were featured: James Brown and Usher. And one former “Idol” got love from Hollie Cavanagh and Skylar Laine, who did a virtual note-for-note copy of Carrie Underwood’s “Undo It.”  Colton received teacher’s pet award this year: he was the only non-winner to get a shot at singing his own song “Never Gone.” (Pia Toscano got that same shot last year. How did that turn out for her?)

Winner Phillip Phillips showed up just 20 minutes before the end of the program to sing five songs and the final group sing, The Wanted’s “Glad You Came.” What little time he had to vamp, he simply said he rode a horse for the first time yesterday and didn’t fall off. I’m glad to see his kidney surgery has recovered enough for him to do that.

Here are some more photos I took from last night. And if you want more, there’s a photo gallery from Robb Cohen here.

Colton Dixon was a fan favorite last night.

Colton Dixon was a fan favorite last night.

Colton Dixon reprised "Piano Man" from his "Idol" performance.

Colton Dixon reprised "Piano Man" from his "Idol" performance.

Deandre Brackensack kind of looks like he's looking at me here.

Deandre Brackensack kind of looks like he's looking at me here.

Deandra shot

Watching Elise Testone last night reminded me how much she loved to do hand gestures illustrating whatever she was singing.

Watching Elise Testone last night reminded me how much she loved to do hand gestures illustrating whatever she was singing.

Erika Van Pelt: 1983 wants its hair and clothing back! When I saw her doing Pink's 'Glitter in the Air," I swore she had stepped out of a Bonnie Tyler video.

Erika Van Pelt: 1983 wants its hair and clothing back! When I saw her doing Pink's 'Glitter in the Air," I swore she had stepped out of a Bonnie Tyler video.

Another questionable outfit choice by Erika Van Pelt during the group sing of One Direction's big hit.

Another questionable outfit choice by Erika Van Pelt during the group sing of One Direction's big hit.

Heejun Han went classy during John Legend's 'Green Light."

Heejun Han went classy during John Legend's 'Green Light."

Hollie Cavanagh made me realize that yes, I'm really tired of that Adele song "Rolling in the Deep," no matter how good it is.

Hollie Cavanagh made me realize that yes, I'm really tired of that Adele song "Rolling in the Deep," no matter how good it is.

Jessica Sanchez looks lovely as she sings some Beyonce.

Jessica Sanchez looks lovely as she sings some Beyonce.

Joshua Ledet's vibrant "Runaway Baby" was one of the highlights of the night.

Joshua Ledet's vibrant "Runaway Baby" was one of the highlights of the night.

Skylar Laine hits a high note during "Stay With Me."

Skylar Laine hits a high note during "Stay With Me."

Phillip works Gotye with Elise.

Phillip works Gotye with Elise.

I was near the side of the stage so I couldn't get a good shot of Phillip facing me while singing. And he didn't move around the stage much at all. No surprise there.

I was near the side of the stage so I couldn't get a good shot of Phillip facing me while singing. And he didn't move around the stage much at all. No surprise there.

Here’s Phillip singing “Home” last night:

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

74 comments Add your comment

Deirdre

August 6th, 2012
10:02 am

Thanks for the review, Rodney. I think Erika looks like she lost some weight.

They were a talented group so I’m sure that the evening was more enjoyable than the last two season tours.

Liked the pictures, too!

Glen

August 6th, 2012
10:02 am

Great photos. What a great homecoming for Phil. Home was played at the Olympics again (twice) on Sunday. Next: Platinum watch for the song:)

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
10:04 am

Thanks Rodney.

Woodpappy

August 6th, 2012
10:12 am

I didn’t get to go this year, so thanks for the scoop and pictures Rodney. Sorry that things seem to be scaling back on the tour. All the pictures seem dark and sinister. You’d think they could spend a little more on lighting, don’t ya?

DanJ

August 6th, 2012
10:20 am

I agree about the lighting, it appears dark. Idol had some great contestants this year maybe the best top 10 ever and you would think they’d do more to make the tour more attractive.

Lar

August 6th, 2012
10:24 am

It is funny how orginally Phillip did not want to sing Home as his first single but everywhere you hear him he is singing Home. I takes some people awhile realize they need to sing what people want to hear more than what they want to sing.

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
10:44 am

I was confused by the dim, shadowy lighting. How much money could they save on that?

Jo

August 6th, 2012
10:58 am

None of the idols got to choose what they’re wearing for the tour–the questionable taste of the show’s stylist is to blame for all of the looks, good, bad, or otherwise. And you slammed Erika’s appearance but didn’t say one thing about her performance. It’s a wonder she even finished 10th, when no one talks about her talent but everyone comments on her hair. I think they’re lucky to have her voice, experience and enthusiasm on the tour.

G

August 6th, 2012
11:20 am

Let me get this straight. The show scaled back on the tour and runner up winnings. However, they found a way to find money for these multi-million dollar salaries for the judges and host. But Idol is about the contestants? Really?!

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
11:21 am

Phillip Phillips is example #1 of how the Idols do get to choose what they wear. That same tired look was not picked for him by a stylist.

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
11:21 am

G still doesn’t get it.

Deirdre

August 6th, 2012
11:27 am

The show is about making money. The tour is just one more way for the show to make money.

Doesn’t matter what the judges or the Idols are PAID. What matters is the attention given during the show and during promos for the show. Idol promos and the show itself focuses on the contestants. Have you seen the promos for The Voice? Have you seen any contestants? Have you seen that the promos are ALL about the judges?

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
11:29 am

@Jo I’m actually a fan of Erika. I liked her on the show and she sounded great last night, showed tons of enthusiasm to boot. Just thought whoever dressed her for the tour was stuck in the wrong decade.

Pitchy

August 6th, 2012
11:30 am

Excellent recap, RHo…thanks. Nice pics too.

DanJ

August 6th, 2012
12:11 pm

I have no problem with the show making money. However if you rely on the fans of the show for: Ratings, CD Sales and Concert tickets you would think the concert itself would be a quality production. After all the concert is to reward the fans and to hopefully generate interest in music sales. A dark dreary venue is not what I would want.

Sam-A

August 6th, 2012
12:45 pm

Deirdre: did you watch “Falling Skies” yet? Re previews, all I can say is “UH OH!”.

Mercedes: Saw “Beasts…..” yesterday. The little girl was teriffic, but it was way too depressing for me with nary an uplifting moment to break the heavy atmosphere. I can’t really recommend it to any of my friends, because I was so restless thru most of it, and couldn’t wait to get out into the light! Felt burdened all thru it. But I can appreciate that you and a number of critics would like the film.

Paula

August 6th, 2012
12:47 pm

I was there and thought it was a great show. I didn’t care for the bright search lights shining in my eyes throughout the show, though. Phillip was awesome, and the crowd just loved him.

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
12:48 pm

@Paula. That’s light they should have placed on the stage!

MyPatootie

August 6th, 2012
1:18 pm

How did the photos turn out so well without good lighting? Looks fine to me. Maybe they were going for a soft, romantic mood anyway. Lighting is something I never would have even noticed at a concert.

Breezy

August 6th, 2012
1:37 pm

Nice pictures, but I agree, the stage does appear dark. Glad Phillip and the rest are doing what they like best, performing.

Deirdre

August 6th, 2012
2:39 pm

Sam…haven’t seen Falling Skies yet. We watched Downton Abbey last night.

Sam-A

August 6th, 2012
2:44 pm

“Downton” just gets better and better, eh! Can’t wait for season 3 -hope it’s got more episodes!

Anyone have any idea how to get a set of the UK version of Harry Potter books. I want to read with the British lingo, hear there are some differences. I don’t trust online – I google UK version, and get venders with the “Scholastic” ones.

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
3:09 pm

Fly to the UK?

G

August 6th, 2012
3:26 pm

There’s nothing wrong with the show making money. The fact of the matter is that Idol HAS THE MONEY to do more for the contestants [turned tour performers]. They simply choose not to.

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
3:38 pm

Yep.

“Jeopardy” could do more for the contestants, they choose not to. “Survivor” could do more for the survivors, they choose not to. “America’s got So you think you can Dancing Stars” could do more for the whatever they got, but choose not to.

I could also talk about X-Factor and The Voice, both could do more but choose not to. Those two also focus MORE on the judges than Idol typically does. Note the key word is MORE, at no time have I seen anyone ever say that Idol focuses exclusively on the contestants. All three dump a ton of money on the judges, but they each have a tad different focus.

Mercedes S.

August 6th, 2012
3:57 pm

Only one pic of Hollie, but at least it’s a good one. Could have done without snide comment, tho.
Thanks for going, Rodney, and reporting. Ar you sure it’s only 24 hrs? What about driving to and from venue?

A shame about the poor presentation when the Idols are first rate this year.
D. at 10:02 – “Erika looks like she lost some weight.”
Indeed – and Elise found it.

Seth T

August 6th, 2012
4:13 pm

@ Dan J – from previous thread – I was going from a video, link attached, that implied Janet Devlin was the winner – so perhaps it was posted wrong. I also enjoyed what I have seen of Little Mix.

The link on Janet Devlin 2011:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiZgwm5gIXc&feature=related

Also hear that Jermaine Jones has a single out now, with rapper Fre-Stal.

Last week album sales:The Top Idol Album Sales

The music sales numbers from the past week were released today. Here is a list of the five Idols on the Billboard 200 chart, courtesy of USA Today:

Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away at #25, Selling 13,000 units (Total Sales: 657,000)

Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger at #50, Selling 7,000 units (Total: 877,000)

Phillip Phillips’ American Idol Season 11 Highlights at #56, Selling 6,000 units (Total: 48,000)

Joshua Ledet’s American Idol Season 11 Highlights at #132, Selling 3,000 units (Total: 22,000)

Skylar Laine’s American Idol Season 11 Highlights at #163, Selling 3,000 units (Total: 20,000)

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
4:17 pm

@Mercedes. Sorry about the snide comment but it was nothing against Hollie. I like Hollie. But I’m just really really tired of “Rolling in the Deep.” It was one of those songs played on the radio TO DEATH.

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
4:25 pm

Which song should not be done by X-Factor, The Voice, or Idol (I know all of them, but pick the top dog for banishment even though some may not have been done yet)

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”
Bruno’s “Grenade”
Cohen’s “Hallelujah”
Carly Ray’s “Call me Maybe”
Or Gotye’s “Somebody that I used to know”

G

August 6th, 2012
4:26 pm

If Marcus Canty’s album sounds anything like his single, it should be a solid project. I downloaded his single “In & Out” (feat. Wale) over the weekend. Recording with Wale should be a good look for him.

Mercedes S.

August 6th, 2012
5:16 pm

That’s okay, RoHo.
JT, I can still listen to Adele and Gotye, but I agree about “Hallelujah”. Song needs to be banned.
This am I saw a movie so bad it rivals last week’s “Total Recall” (the remake) as worst movie of the year.

JTesla

August 6th, 2012
5:49 pm

Mercedes, I’m not tired of the originals, but the covers by reality show hopefulls of “Grenade” has pushed me over the edge.

Oh and thanks for the review of “Total Recall”, I loved the original but will wait to see this one on video.

bknsty14

August 6th, 2012
6:06 pm

Mercedes – You took the “Only one picture of Hollie” comment right out of my mouth. You are right, though, it was a good one. Anyone have any news of her being offered a record deal, or anything yet?

scootdog

August 6th, 2012
6:36 pm

I am happy to see the decline. Idol is ruining real music.

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
6:40 pm

Sorry about only one picture of Hollie. The other shots I took of her were not very good cos she looked peeved in all of them.

Jason

August 6th, 2012
7:01 pm

I went last night and the only issue I had, like others on here, was the lighting. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they kept using those deep dark blue lights that way when you try to take a pic or something you cant see their face. But other than that, I thought it was a VERY solid show! All of them did absolutely amazing!

Deirdre

August 6th, 2012
7:12 pm

cos she looked peeved in all of them. LOL!!!! Poor Hollie. I thought you were dissing the song not the singer but Hollie fans are extra-special sensitive. Who can blame them, the judges were brutal even if she occasionally deserved it.

I’d pick Call Me Maybe because, at this point, EVERYONE has done it!

DanJ

August 6th, 2012
7:33 pm

@Seth, I really like Little Mix. A girl grouped that worked vocally!
@G, I will buy the full CD when Marcus releases it. I also like the song and think he may well be a sleeper in terms of sales from this past years X-Factor. Josh is the one I’m most interested in.

I would love to see a night when the song selection is: Songs never sung in a singing competition. Also an acappella night would be nice! Different anyway!

Mercedes S.

August 6th, 2012
8:16 pm

An a capella night – great idea! Good challenge for rappers.

Deb

August 6th, 2012
9:42 pm

I have been to many, many concerts at many different venues and I have never seen one with such dark lighting. You could not see the perfomers at the beginning and who ever was controlling the sport light must have fallen asleep. I also don’t understand the need to turn the volume up to it’s highest point on both the music as well as the vocals.. The performers were great, no need to use volume to mask any weakness.

Rodney Ho

August 6th, 2012
10:33 pm

@Deb I’m glad I’m not the only one flummoxed by the crappy lighting!

bknsty14

August 6th, 2012
11:03 pm

Oh, Gabby!!! Damn.

[...] more thing…I was lucky enough to sit beside the AJC’s Rodney Ho at the show. Here’s his review of the [...]

Seth T

August 7th, 2012
2:45 am

They fooled me once, then fooled me twice ———-
So now I take a fool’s advice —-
“The Voice” is just for Celebrity —-
The rest a music comedy.

I no longer expext to see a rising star come-out of The Voice. Blake and Adam have both sometimes brought their upper level contestants along on some of their tour dates – giving them a paycheck and a chance to perform in front of bigger crowds.

But none of them are a major big draw on their own, and that’s unlikely to change with the low pay-outs, dredging for off-beat 3rd chance talent with a back-story and lack of significant recording and promotion contracts offered.

They brought in an amazing young voice in Xenia, 16 years old and wasn’t ready for anything like this – and was like a deer caught in the headlights. Some 15 -16 year olds have a moxie and background/support system that makes them ready, but she was not. Dia Frampton has improved her career since the show and maybe we’ll see some more new releases from her this time. Rae Lynn has got some work, as a tag-on with some other artists.

If you were an advisor to a truly distinctve, special, talented 17 year-old boy or girl, – would you want them to try-out for 1. The Voice 2. X-Factor 3. AGT 4. American Idol??

Deirdre

August 7th, 2012
8:44 am

Morning!

Seth asks a good question. Amend it to “if it is your kid auditioning” which show would you pick.

Y’all know what my choice would be. I like that Idol gives the first televised audition in front of just the judges. It gives the judges a chance to hear the voices without audience influence and interference. It gives the contestant a chance to try his/her best without an audience screaming, applauding or, heaven forbid, booing.

I really like the idea of a blind audition, as in The Voice. I think that particular idea sets The Voice apart from the other shows. It’s too bad that what follows the blind auditions doesn’t work. I have heard that the producers are reworking the rest of The Voice to make it more palatable to the viewing(and voting) audience.

To me, AGT and X-Factor both do a huge disservice to the auditioners with the live audience stamping their feet, booing, cheering and otherwise doing everything possible to create a circus-like atmosphere. It isn’t my cup of tea and I would never subject my kid to it.

Harriett

August 7th, 2012
9:16 am

Good morning.

Trying to catch up on the posts from yesterday. I was in meetings all day so did not even get to peek in.

Thanks for the update and photos, Rodney. I agree with everyone else about the lighting. Well, except for the patootie person. I really liked Erika and am glad she got to be on tour.

And, D, I have said all along that I love the blind auditions on The Voice. It is the best part of the show. It would be interesting if they could find a way to carry on blind for a bit, then do a big reveal down the road. And, yes, Idol is the only place I would want my kid auditioning.

DanJ

August 7th, 2012
9:22 am

Seth, just based on FULL recording deals I would have my child try out for X-Factor. However I agree with Deirdre that the best audition and critique is how The Voice does it with blind auditions. Idol of course with it’s tour is the best show to get a springboard effect. It’s a shame you can’t combine the best elements of the 3 shows! X-Factor does guarantee more than the other shows for the winner and even those with talent who don’t win stand to get signed to a full deal.

It really depends on what type of singer the child is. Jessica would have done well on all 3 shows but would have won The Voice. I think Joshua would have done better on X-Factor especially if LA Reid was his mentor. Philip would not have been chosen for the final four by LA Reid on X-Factor and probably would not have made it as far as Tony Lucca on The Voice so he chose the right show.

I guess my point is IF your child is an R&B artist you need to go to X-Factor. If they sing country or play an instrument then Idol is a better choice. The Voice is better for those who sing Rock. If they’re a Pop singer then any of the 3 show would be okay. Of course these are just my opinions.

G

August 7th, 2012
9:50 am

Sometimes I hate to post after DanJ………..there’s usually nothing else left to say.

G

August 7th, 2012
9:56 am

Just my .01cent on the topic, DanJ’s last couple of paragraphs sum it up for me. It REALLY depends on the type of singer my child is. I wouldn’t want to steer my kid to a show that I KNOW will not benefit him/her in the end.

Mercedes S.

August 7th, 2012
9:57 am

That last American goal in ladies’ soccer was something else…Now go for gold, please!