By Matt Elias
LOS ANGELES — Friday night (August 13) at the Staples Center saw the return of all top 10 “American Idol” season-nine finalists to Los Angeles for the American Idols Live! Tour. While part of the center was closed, the arena was only a little over half full by the time the show started around 7:45 pm. However, despite the empty seats, die-hard “Idol” fans showed their enthusiasm with homemade signs and t-shirts.
First to take the stage was Didi Benami, decked out in a shimmery top and blonde locks reminiscent of Taylor Swift. After her first song, “Lay It on Me,” Benami drew cheers when she shouted, “Los Angeles! Welcome to American Idol Live! How’s everyone doing tonight?” She then strapped on an acoustic guitar and really stretched her vocals on “Terrified.”
Next in line was hometown hero, Andrew Garcia. The singer broke into his now-famous cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and then got the crowd on its feet for “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5.
Katie Stevens followed suit with Demi Lovato’s “Here We Go Again.” Rocking a pair of black gloves and boots, Stevens commanded the stage with ease. With a nod to the amount of hurdles she overcame in the last year, she aptly chose Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” as her next tune. While not as dirty as Xtina, Stevens’ vocal powers were on par.
Female favorite, Tim Urban, hit the stage next. He kept things casual in Converse kicks and jeans as he belted the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days.” But his next choice, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” was a pale version of the original.
In one of the most electric performances of the night, Siobhan Magnus tore through The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” a song that also scored her praise as an “Idol” contender. Wearing what could be described as a rock and roll French maid outfit, Magnus followed with No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs.” Then she turned things up with the addition of a new song to her set: Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome.”
While Magnus was a tough act to follow, Aaron Kelly held his own. Looking grown-up in his leather jacket, Kelly kept it country with Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You,” “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn and Rascal Flatts’ “Fast Cars and Freedom.”
Five of the finalists returned to the stage for an ensemble rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” before an intermission.
Michael Lynche kicked off the second half of the show in a dapper tux. Showing off his falsetto skills, Lynche crooned Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work” and “Ready for Love” by India.Arie. He pulled double duty on his third song of the set, Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” taking on both JT and T.I.’s verses. Lynche’s performance wasn’t all about soulful jams as the singer even squeezed in a shout-out to The Cheesecake Factory.
The night continued with Casey James, who shredded guitar on The Black Keys’ “I Got Mine” and Shania Twain’s “Don’t!” Lynche returned to the stage to join James on Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” prompting the ladies in attendance to swoon. James closed his set with his version of the ’60s Stones hit “It’s All Over Now.”
Season-nine runner-up Crystal Bowersox entered the stage next, declaring, “It’s good to be home!” Starting off her set with “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes, she elicited the most crowd participation of the night. After some playful banter with a roadie, Mama-Sox picked up a harmonica for Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to My Window.” She kept the fun-loving spirit going with songs such as the Janis Joplin classic, “Piece of My Heart,” playing to the fans pressed up against the front barriers.
Next, “American Idol” winner, Lee DeWyze, hit the stage to a chorus of cheering fans. With most of the audience on its feet, DeWyze ripped a country version of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” “It’s good to be back here,” DeWyze proclaimed, and then told fans, “This next song is one of my favorite ones, I think you know it.” The singer then launched into a soaring rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” He rocked a range of songs and wrapped up with the Kings of Leon smash, “Use Somebody.”
Closing out the night, the guys returned to the stage for Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life,” followed by the female finalists’ revamp of Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Paying homage to the original “American Idol,” the fellas joined the ladies for the end of the Clarkson cover, giving fans almost three full hours of American Idols Live!
via Matt Elias on MTV | Photography by Kevin Winter, Getty Images