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.
Here’s Phillip singing “Home” last night:
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk