'American Idol Live!' 2012 Concert Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

phillip phillips jessica sancez volcano idol‘American Idol Live!’ 2012 touched down in Newark, N.J. on Tuesday night, and while the pacing of the show suffered more stops and starts than an octogenarian trying out a stick-shift for the first time, the Season 11 Top 10 nevertheless proved they have plenty of gas in their tanks as the tour enters its final two weeks.

Paired with the right material, a number of the finalists confirmed they can indeed command a stadium-sized crowd: Country gal Skylar Laine dropped charisma-bombs all the way to the cheap seats. Erika Van Pelt put on a display of vocal firepower that left me a little bitter that she only got one solo number. And freed from the prisons of theme weeks, Swaybots, and Randy Jackson-isms, the Season 11 champ and runner-up, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, got a chance to showcase where exactly they could (and, frankly, should) fit into the modern musical landscape. (I also had a revelation about the reason for Phillip’s inevitable victory that has nothing to do with that wretched WGWG acronym that clings to him like a leech to an open wound — but more on that at the end of this review.)

Most importantly, there were two particular performances– Elise Testone’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Joshua Ledet’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” — that were so spectacular, I had no choice but to roll my notes up into a tube and repeatedly hit myself in the leg as testimony to their righteousness.

But let’s go back to the very beginning….

The show kicked off with a peculiar video of 10 meteorites crashing to the surface of the Earth — surrender, Auto-Tune! surrender, J.Lo! — that, on impact, morphed into the Season 11 finalists. After that, 9 of the top 10 (Phillip was the no-show) ganged up for an unremarkable cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Sing,” and all I could think was that it had to be the brainstorm of a couple 19 Entertainment execs who’d watched one too many Glee reruns at the start of their summer vacation. (Leave such new directions to New Directions!)

For me, the real opening number was Deandre Brackensick’s “Master Blaster,” which allowed the lanky teenager to flex the growly, gutteral aspect of his vocal range and whip his hair back and forth to punctuate his jaunty spins. I doubt anyone left the Prudential Center feeling like the kid should’ve gone farther than his eighth-place finish, but he effectively set the tone for a first-half that favored upbeat party tunes over big, bombastic ballads. (I wouldn’t have objected if they’d let Deandre sneak in “I Like It” or maybe a Maxwell groove as a bookend, though.)

Skylar and Hollie Cavanagh kept folks on their feet with a duet of Carrie Underwood’s “Undo It,” the former diva adding a little twist of bitterness that saved it from pure karaoke-ism. (Carrie-Okie-ism? Sorry.) Nevertheless, you know these gals have serious pipes when they can color inside the lines drawn by Idol‘s Season 4 champ and barely break a sweat.

Speaking of pipes, Erika flexed hers with a stripped-down rendition of Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” that was far more riveting than anything she did during her Season 11 tenure. Denying Erika a second song — Idol Live! vets will recall that in Season 8, even Michael Sarver and Megan Joy weren’t limited to just one solo — seemed all the more egregious when it was followed up by a four-person rendition on “Moves Like Jagger.” It’s hard to imagine the Maroon 5 ditty would crack Joshua, Hollie, Erica, or Colton Dixon’s lists of “Top 500 Songs I Really Want to Cover,” so what, really, was the point of it? Maybe to prepare us for the nadir that was Heejun Han’s version of John Legend’s “Green Light.” Despite his goofy “I’m in on the joke — really!” expressions, Heejun comes off like the annoying reality-show contestant who puts on urban affectations, not realizing his shtick is several months (years?) past its expiration date. There was a certain irony in Heejun repeating the chorus “I’m ready to go right now”; heckling him with a well-timed “then go already!”, however, seemed too cruel by half.

The ninth-place finisher then fully embraced the joke of his Idol successes by donning a pink-and-zebra shirt for a version of LMFAO’s “Party Rock” alongside Deandre and Jessica. What came as a total shock, however, was the way the Lady Sanchez used her monster-truck voice to elevate the goofy club hit into something more rousing than it had any right to be.  As Jessica belted the refrain, “Put your hands up to the sound,” I was all, “Okay, girl! I will most indubitably put my hands up to the sound!”

Again, where an added solo (or a juicy duet) could’ve gone to Elise or Hollie or Skylar or Deandre, we got Colton, Joshua, DeAndre, and Heejun teaming up for Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks.” It wasn’t bad, but it’ll soon be forgotten like whatever you had for breakfast on July 10, 2012.

What won’t soon evaporate from the memory banks, though, is Elise’s raucous, rock-star cover of “Whole Lotta Love,” which oozed with confidence and sex appeal, and led to an extended Middle-Eastern-esque breakdown that had the crowd screaming wild approval — until she brought them to almost total silence with a whispered “wayyyy down insiiiide.” Elise’s wicked grin as she ripped the lid off the Prudential with the delicacy of a feather was a thing of precise beauty. Her followup, “Rumour Has It” (with Erika and Hollie on backup) was pretty and passionate, too, filled with nifty riffs that wisely departed from Adele’s original template.

Given the dubious task of following Elise on stage, Colton’s version of Switchfoot’s “Meant to Live” felt limp as an overcooked noodle — even if the folks at 19 spent more on his “haunted asylum” backdrop than all the previous performances put together. “It’s like having Springsteen open for Nickleback!” read a text message I got from erstwhile Idoloonies guest Adam Baranker. Sad, but all too true.

A little more promising was an original track called “Never Gone,” from what Colton promised the crowd would be a soon-to-drop CD. “I’m still standing here/ You know I didn’t disappear/ Now the lights are on/ I was never gone,” he wailed over a melody that sounded like it got shaken out of the recycling bin after David Cook’s most recent recording session. “Piano Man,” meanwhile, provided a capper to Colton’s set to which the enthusiastic crowd could sway along — and a perfect segue to intermission.

Unfortunately, the show’s producers instead tacked on a hideous lost outtake from From Justin to Kelly grafted onto a low-budget Old Navy ad. I kid you not, the entire Top 10 (sans Phillip) took the stage in bright neon beachwear to tackle One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” while a giant beach ball pulsated against the backdrop. All that was missing was a chyron trumpeting “Board shorts for $12.99!” (Clearly, the bonus prize for winnning Idol is avoiding this kind of credibility-immolating grouptastrophe. Congrats, P2!) Joshua’s holleration added a little juice to the half-empty glass, but mentally, I’d already headed to the concession stand to find out just how much one can charge for a Miller Lite without being arrested for petit larceny.

The second half of the show was, not surprisingly, stronger than the first. Jessica had concertgoers scrambling from the bathroom as she tore into “Best Thing I Never Had” like a cheetah getting its first taste of gazelle. If Idol wants to tweak anything about its format in 2013, it should focus on letting singers like La Sanchez occasionally cover songs that might actually get played on the radio, as opposed to the 27th attempt to resuscitate Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Better still was her sublimely stank version of Alicia Keys’ “How Come You Don’t Call Me” that forced me to crinkle my nose and scribble “SMDH!” in my notes. Jessica’s scatting on the second verse, her pleading growl on the chorus, and the enthusiastic dance moves from backup singers Joshua and Deandre made this one of the night’s best numbers.

The third- and eighth-place finishers continued their hilarious antics (including a synchronized booty swivel!) as Jessica reprised Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary” and made me wish she’d been allowed one (or even two) more numbers before having to pass the mic. (Note to producers: Jessica was, in fact, the Season 11 runner-up, so maybe she should have at least one more solo than the guy who finished seventh, even if she probably sells fewer t-shirts to screaming teenage girls? Yes? No? Maybe?)

There was little time to wallow, though, because yes, like a shotgun blast, Skylar scattered herself around the stage for a furious cover of “Gunpowder and Lead” that should be required listening for any guy who’s thinking about using Chris Brown as a relationship role-model. Her followup of “Stay With Me” punctuated the fact that no one in Season 11 has better stage presence or got stuck with a more incongrously awful backdrop. (A wheat field? WHAT?) Of course, on her final drawn-out, arena-piercing refrain of “tonight you better staaaaaayyyyyy with meeeee,” Ms. Laine also reminded the audience she’s one heckuva vocalist, too.

Hollie, likewise, proved her diminutive frame had no bearing on the XXL size of her voice while taking on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break.” That said, she never quite commanded the space with the authority of her more seasoned comrades. My notes on “RITD” are telling: “Wish I could see this performance in about five years.”

Joshua, meanwhile, had no such problems: He’s blessed with an instrument so gargantuan and a showmanship so dazzling that one almost worries if the modern record-business will have any clue what to do with him. Certainly, his take on Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” provided one plausible direction, as the mild-mannered Idol contestant convincingly donned the white jacket and gold lapels of a randy, throwback-style emcee on the prowl. (Side note: I momentarily mistook the backing trio of Elise, Deandre, and Erika for Elise, Deandre, and Colton. Yep, Mr. Dixon and Ms. Van Pelt have practically become hair twins over the last couple months!)

It was Josh’s second performance, though, that made the audience keenly aware of why J.Lo, Randy, and Steven couldn’t help but give him Standing Os all season with the casualness of bag ladies spreading crumbs for pigeons. The electricity generated by “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” spread like a lightning storm: There were rumbles and flashes as the song ebbed and flowed, Joshua’s wail piercing the room until a final crescendo that left him standing, arms outstretched at his sides, and soaking up the thunderous response of an entire arena rising to its feet.

By comparison, Josh’s followup duet with Jessica on “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” wasn’t ever going to be quite as exciting, even if someone had mercifully ditched the awful mountain/sunrise neon-sims backdrop. Nevertheless, their “anything you can do” interplay at the end of the song was a treat for old-school Idol fans who don’t mind a little diva grandstanding here and there.

Despite the fact that there wasn’t a second intermission, the concert most certainly rebooted after Joshua’s set, with a dramatic montage of Phillip’s Season 11 coronation that got the audience primed for the reigning champion. The blast of the band overpowered Phillip’s acoustic guitar on “Superstition,” and while he sounded rock-solid, a part of me was secretly wishing for a stripped-down take on his audition ditty, “Thriller,” instead.

Far more impressive was a sultry twist on Usher’s “Nice and Slow” that, were it a movie scene, might be William Hurt throwing a piece of lawn furniture through Kathleen Turner’s sliding glass door and ravaging her on the spot in Body Heat. Yeah, it was honestly that sexy, even if the closing refrain of “Gangster’s Paradise” was copped from Kris Allen’s playbook.

Given Phillip’s lack of participation in all the preceding group numbers and duets, it seemed a little odd to bring out Elise Testone for a duet on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” especially given that the ubiquitous hit’s pop-culture moment peaked a couple months ago. That said, a second collaboration with an Idol diva — Damien Rice’s “Volcano,” with Jessica as a background/duet partner — provided the night’s most haunting moment. With Phillip in the foreground, his vocal as intimate as a vocal could be in a big arena, and Siren Jessica perched above him in a wisp of a red dress, the duo’s disparate voices melded perfectly and unexpectedly, the “she’s still too young” refrain all the more stark given Ms. Sanchez’s tender age.

As if it wasn’t already clear Phillip is at his best in his most restrained moments, he wrapped with a version of his bubbling hit “Home,” DeAndre and Colton on background vocals. As P2 reached the soaring chorus, and the lights illuminated the rapturous audience, it was as if the lights went on in my brain, too. Phillip’s Idol ascendancy can’t (or shouldn’t) just be attributed to “cute white straight guy with guitar in hand”: Phillip’s popularity with Idol voters affirms the triumph of earnestness over spectacle.

Nigel Lythgoe & Co. can schedule results-show performances of J.Lo and an army of backup dancers, Katy Perry and folks dressed like aliens, or LMFAO being undeniably ridiculous, but that’s like piling massive quantities of food on a plate and smothering it with cheese, when sometimes/most of the time you just want a simply prepared protein with a nice side dish or two. There’s a sincerity, yes even an earnestness, to Phillip and his music that’s delicious in its relative quietude. To paraphrase the lyric of his lead single, Phillip makes the stage his home, and in an era where modern music can sometimes feel too noisy or overprocessed, “Home” feels refreshingly like where the heart is.

Have you caught the Idol Live! 2012 tour? What were the highlights and lowlights for you? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol and reality TV news, reviews and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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  1. noa says:

    no mention of the idols’ literal dance moves while singing backup? they’re hilarious! Erika and Elise rolling their hands while singing RITD, or the fake running during Runaway Baby… pure Idol. they take literal staging to a whole new level!

    • noa says:

      i also wanted to add that this made me miss the idol season so much, since the best part of Idol is Slezak anyway…

      and as an Elite- this really made my day!!

      • Katelin says:

        Elise ALL the way, Michael! Saw you at the show and waved like CRAZY and yelled but you didnt see me. Idology is amazing. Now for the tour stuff, Ranking the sets from worst to best

        10. Hollie- Rolling in the deep was ok, other song she was So off on, as a singer, I can tell she was nervous about that demi lovato song.
        9. DeAndre- Expected him to be my least favorite, but Master Blaster is pretty cool;) that being said, really never liked him at all. And Party Rock Anthem?? NOOO.
        8. Heejun- Still too silly, I mean Party Rock anthem was good, but Green light was too silly.
        7. Colton- One of the people who I was neutral on, but I felt he was bland, like micheal.
        6.Phillip- Missed 1/2 of the notes in Somebody I used to know, but Queen Elise was able to save him.
        5. Jessica- Liked her on tour more than during season. Did not really like her on show.
        4.Josh/ Skylar draw Josh- MANS WORLD. Holy cow. That was amazzinnnnggg but other one was not my fave.
        3.Josh/ Skylar draw- Skylar- Good old Skylar. That’s all that must be said.
        2.Erika- WOW. CHILLSSS!!! CHILLLS!!! Erika murdered. and I was so hungry for more. Damn it, Idol.
        1. all hail………… QUEEN ELISE.- Whole lotta love, AMAZINGLY AMAZING. It was perfect. And I was so mesmerized by her the whole time. She is SUCH an amazing performer live. And that voice….:) those mideastern runs>>>> by far and away my fave this lseason. Rumor has it- unexpected GLORY of runs and all Elise goodness,

  2. Ruth S says:

    Michael, You continually impress me with your fantastic writing style. Your descriptions of the songs, the singers and the atmosphere in the arena helps me visualize it as if I were there. Thank you so much.

    • Jeannine R says:

      Couldn’t agree more…I love reading your write-ups of American Idol and Project Runway especially! You’re a fantastic writer!

      One question though…what does “SMDH” stand for (referring to your comment about Jessica’s cover of Alicia Keys’ ”How Come You Don’t Call Me”)?

  3. Marianne says:

    When I saw the show (Detroit) it was Eika & Deandre on backing vocals for Elise’s Rumour Has It. Wonder when they switched to Hollie? Did someone complain that Deandre was on-stage too much (11 times)?!

    • ray says:

      As far as I know in every video I’ve seen it’s still DeAndre doing back-up with Erika for Rumor Has It. Hollie doesn’t do any back-up vocals in the show.

      • Marianne says:

        I’m waiting for Michael to comment. Perhaps he had it mixed up. So proud of Deandre’s performances, albeit only one solo. He has great stage-presence and charisma with the audience, not to mention excellent vocals. I wasn’t in the Prudential Center when I saw the show, but I must beg to differ with Michael when he said this: “I doubt anyone left the Prudential Center feeling like the kid should’ve gone farther than his eighth-place finish.” I did not expect him to win, but I do think he is talented enough to have placed higher than eighth-place. I imagine there had to be some other Deandre fans there who feel the same.

        • Junifeo says:

          Totally agree @Marianne! DeAndre definitely should have had a solo!! Eric Benet or Maxwelll style! He was outstanding and was showcased a lot as background but he has great vocals and amazing showmanship and stage presence!

      • Tykismom says:

        I saw the show last week at Nassau Coleseium and it was Hollie and Erika on backup so they must have changed it at some point.

    • Lil says:

      This is the second time I’ve read a review that got this wrong. It’s probably in an AI press release they are using when they write their reviews.

  4. fullyCOOKed says:

    Best AI tour review that I’ve read so far, but I would expect no less from Mr. Slezak. Your comments about the performances and song selections mirrored most of my feelings. The best part, however was your belated appreciation for the talented, understated shy charm of Mr. Phillips. I knew if I stood back and waited long enough, I would witness your awakening.

  5. Annie says:

    “If Idol wants to tweak anything about its format in 2013, it should focus on letting singers like La Sanchez occasionally cover songs that might actually get played on the radio, as opposed to the 27th attempt to resuscitate Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

    Let the congregation say Amen.

  6. Robert says:

    Are you implying that the final results would have been different if the voting was changed? If so, then the post-Idol sales would also be different. That argument just doesn’t work this season.

    • Marianne says:

      You mean to say that that trash of a song they gave Jessica should have sold as well or better than “Home”? Yeah – right.

    • GA says:

      Yes, the voting would have been different if the voting was perhaps limited to 10 votes per phone. PP would not have made it past the top 10.

      1,000 teenage girls voting 100 times each is not more votes than 10,000 adults voting 1-2 times. Every single pre-finale online poll by numerous media sites had Sanchez winning it by a 2-1 margin (polls that only allow 1 vote per computer)

  7. noa says:

    (***warning***- going to comment on typos which is super annoying but still…) Slezak, i just read it again and you wrote Erica instead of Erika at one point. and you wrote that Hollie sang backup for Elise on Rumor, but unless there was a change for that one performance it was Deandre and Erika who sang with Elise on that.

  8. Lauren says:

    Thanks for the great reveiw! I can really picture everything. Your description of Jessica’s songs make me wish she was given better material during the Idol season.

    • Junifeo says:

      Yes The selection of songs for Jessica at the PRU center were WEAK. I felt that may have been intentional. Perhaps not to upstage PP? One upstage for the night (Joshua-Man’s3 World) was probably more than enuff for the producers……

  9. Suzie says:

    The post idol sales have been different. Adam has outsold Kris by miles. Clay outsold Ruben. And Lee would never have won [although that entire season was grim]. If not for the intense voting by Jessica’s fans and the misplaced “Save” she would not be the runner up. Where are her music sales now? Not even in the top 3 for season 11. Limiting the voting is the real change Idol needs to make.




      • deedee says:

        Well the NEW song she debuted at “i Heart Radio” last night is straight up pop, and not the least bit urban. She does a fine job with it, but does not seem to be headed in the direction that you think would have guaranteed the win … at least not if this new song is a reflection of her album.

    • Annie says:

      Even if they did that, people like you would still complain when your favorite loses. It’s just a tv show, it’s not that serious.

    • GA says:

      Jessica’s Youtube views are 10x that of any nearest contestant. She has FAR more twitter & Facebook followers. it is already knows that the dumb Walmart CD on itunes had the reporting broken. it stopped at 4,000 after the first couple hours, same as all the other contestants CD’s, except or PP. Obviously, itunes reporting lumped them all together under PP because the albums were named the same.

      ‘Home’ was a luck of the draw by PP. it was the SONG that was popular, not the singer. Go listen to the original of ‘Home’, and you will find that PP simply sang karaoke of the original. (the original was MUCH better vocally). Can you imagine if jessica was handed that song, and was able to put some actual real vocal talent into it?

      RIght now, Jessica is recording with the cream-of-the-crop A-list producers such as Tommy Mattola, Toby Gan, RyKeyz, and Harvey Mason Jr. She’s also going to be on Glee, and is reported to be a lead prospect for the film adaptation of Miss Saigon.

      According to PP’s comments a couple weeks ago, he’s barely started on his album, and there are comments that they are having a hard time agreeing on material.

      Stop back in 2 years, and we’ll see PP dropped from the label faster than fellow WGWG Lee Dewyze.

  10. Beth T says:

    There are backdrops on the tour? Who knew! ;) I guess I just fixated on the singers, so I seriously never noticed the backdrops about 95% of the time. (I never notice them on the TV show either). All the money spent on that particular production element is just wasted on me! :D
    While I thought there were a few “lesser” bits in this year’s tour production, I have to say for the first time in the 9 season tours I’ve attended, I enjoyed every moment of it! So much so I bought a ticket for a second show. :)

  11. karenb says:

    So glad you finally came to your senses with P2. Slezak. ‘Bour time.

    Loved the tour. We met most of the idols after the show-they were all very gracious.

  12. IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

    Why no commentary on the “Raise Your Glass/Glad You Came” closing number? Did you have to leave a little early, or did you hate it so much you’re trying to wipe it from your memory? I thought it was a fantastic show when I saw it in Manchester. Good luck to all of them. They each shine in their own way, and together it’s just all kinds of love!

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      Also, totally agree about the earnestness. We need real music to be popular again, and if Phillip sells big, he may help lead the movement. And other corrections that others have pointed out: It was Erika and DeAndre who accompanied Elise on “Rumour Has It,” and you forgot to mention that Erika and Elise accompanied Hollie on “Rolling In The Deep.”

      • Joy says:

        I think Phillip’s earnestness was a big selling point, but I also think earnestness doesn’t come through the same way or attract votes nearly as effectively in a contestant the audience doesn’t find “cute.” It’s not either/or as far as what made him the winner; people are looking for substance over spectacle, but most seem to identify the former much more readily when it’s displayed within a “cute straight WGWG” template.

    • GA says:

      If he left early, he wasn’t alone. The show I went to, half the arena was packing their bags and heading for their cars after PP got past the second song of his snoozefest set. He was definitely upstaged by the rest of the talent that preceded him.

      • Sam says:

        Disagree my crowd in philly was so into his set and i thought he was surprisingly one of the best and sounded amazing. Love his voice live and what he brought to the concert. I take back what i said during the show, he is very talented and u can tell now that he is done surgery he is a better performer and singer. I wish him and everyone else the best. Loved this season the most

      • screan says:

        I was also surprised how many people left when Phillip came on. The crowd really got into “Home” though.

  13. JC says:

    Jessica I love you I can’t wait for your debut album and hopefully I can see you live in concert :))

  14. Me Talk Pretty says:

    Slezak, can you name a winner in the last 5 years that hasn’t been earnest? Can you name one in the entire run of the show? Neither can I. This audience has always loved earnest and humble and “down home”. That’s the way it is on American Idol.

  15. Jennifer says:

    I’m going to see the show on Saturday. This made me so much more excited for it! So glad P2 does Nice and Slow!!! Eeeekk!.

  16. Are we ever going to get a full interview with Phillip?

  17. Marsaili says:

    Great article, as usual Michael! Thank you for reiterating what we P2 fans already know. Apparently there are still the delusional “he only won cause the girlies voted for him” sore losers, but the truth of his talent is clearly all around! I wish I could have made it to the tour when it hit Columbus, but I heard many good things about all the kids and that it was a great show! Can’t wait until next season!!! And HEY, what IS going on with a Phillip interview—are we gonna get one or should we just let that dream go???

  18. AngelaBR says:

    I flew from Brazil to Pittsburgh just to see the AI live tour concert with some American friends. It paid off all the money and time I had to spend for it!! Loved all of them!! At the end I really whished I could go back in time and start everything again!
    Michael, I’m a big fan of yours and have been following you for a long time. Your articles are always spot on!! Your interviews are so interesting. I’m still waiting for P2’s. I hope I wont have to wait longer since he’s been visiting New York very often lately.
    The best from Brazil.

  19. Meghan says:

    Great review, Slezak!! Reading this made me realize how much I’ve missed your American Idol commentary since the season ended.

  20. GeorgeR says:

    I haven’t gone to the concert as I dislike concerts and all the screaming fans but have watched all on you tube and I agree with your review and all the Jessica people please let it go already the voting is the voting its how it is. Time will tell Phillip is on his way to double platinum on a song he has said he doesn’t even like, but people want to hear him he has outsold everyone on his idol songs. The people who watch this show and spend money after it like Phillip better big deal. When they go into the real world of music hopefully they will all get somewhere. I like Jessica I just enjoy Phillip more I’m older and yes I bought his songs.

  21. screan says:

    Really enjoyed the show. Your comments were right on. Colton is this year’s Pia (hope he does better with his new song than she did). He got more solos (3) than most of he people who placed higher( and he had a t-shirt!) Judging by the screams of the girls, good call on their part. Deandre reminded me of Stefano from last year – just everywhere!
    I thought Elise’s Rumour has it was her highlight – so much emotion – better than the original. Jessica really shined when her buddies were out there backing her up.
    Overall – really enjoyable show!

  22. Robin says:

    Just saw the show in Syracuse last night. Great time…loved it! My top 3 performances…Josh-Runaway Baby, Elise-Rumor has it and Phillip-Nice & slow. Hope we get a Phillip interview since he has been in the NYC area lately…but then again I’m still waiting for a Casey James interview! LOL!

  23. N J says:

    I went to two AI Live! shows, one on the West Coast, the other on the East Coast. I guess it’s a matter of opinion, or taste because I enjoyed the show (must be if I decided to see the show again in CT.) However, I was actually bored watching Phillip Phillips. He had no stage presence, no connection with the audience and he either just stood there on stage singing at the same spot, sometimes with a guitar, sometimes without. He had no eye contact with the audience, closing his eyes a lot. I’m so glad he came out at the very end because the others that preceded him were exciting to watch. I was not bored with them. They covered the whole stage and carried the show to me. “Home” did get the audience into it, but it was because his backup singers (Colton Dixon and DeAndre Brackensick) encouraged the audience to clap their hands. It was good that he had others to back him up to liven things up on the stage.

    Erika Van Pelt was the best voice of the evening. I was blown away the first time I heard her sing “Glitter in the Air,” and the only performance that I said “Wow” after seeing it. I have to disagree on Colton Dixon. I thought he was the highlight of Act One. He lit up the stage whenever he was on it! Such a talented young man, and what stage presence! I loved his original song he wrote. Will be buying his music when it comes out. My favorite group number was “Everybody Talks.” It was fun and the guys seem to be enjoying themselves on stage, and so did I. Joshua Ledet was the star of Act 2, in my opinion. He knows how to work up the crowd. He was als fun to watch as backup to Jessica Sanchez on “Proud Mary.” I enjoy watching everyone, but sadly I was bored with Phillip Phillips. He’s a nice guy, but I would have a hard time seeing just him in concert.