7/10 Review Etess Arena: ‘American Idol Live! tour comes to Atlantic City’

By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger

The American Idol Live! tour has been making news for the wrong reasons lately, with seven shows canceled due to poor ticket sales. It has become, for some, a symbol of the struggling concert industry; for others, a symbol of the decline of the hit “American Idol” franchise.

Saturday night at the Etess Arena of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, though, it was “American Idol” business as usual, with this year’s ten top finishers presenting solid — albeit far less than revelatory — sets for an adoring crowd, in a smooth-running, nearly three-hour show.

They played in reverse order, starting with tenth place finisher Didi Benami and ending with winner Lee DeWyze. The six singers who performed in the first half of the show ended that part of it with a group version of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”; at the end of the evening, all 10 took the stage together for Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” (preceded by a bit of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life,” by just the men).

Given, though, that everyone was in the same building, and everyone seemed intent on projecting a one-big-happy-family vibe, it was strange that there weren’t more collaborations. There was just one: a duet by Casey James and Michael Lynche on the Bryan Adams hit, “”Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”

Then again, nobody had much time to spare. With just two songs allotted to the bottom four finishers, and a maximum of five, to DeWyze, everyone wanted to stick with their best showcases, which usually meant the songs that made the biggest impressions for them on “American Idol.” These artists will, perhaps, develop strong repertoires of their own in the future, but for now they’re happy to reproduce glories of their (recent) pasts.

Siobhan Magnus was the most bombastic performer, projecting a sense of dark, almost goth theatricality on songs like Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black.” It was weird, though, to segue from her to the innocuous Aaron Kelly.

James had the most pronounced split personality, playing raw blues-rock (the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine”) and a rousing version of the the Bobby Womack-written, Rolling Stones-popularized stomper, It’s All Over Now,” in addition the sugary “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” duet and another power ballad, Shania Twain’s “Don’t.”

Crystal Bowersox apologized for not being at full strength, due to a cold, but still turned in a strong set. You have to wonder, though, if it was a good decision for an artist who will probably be compared to Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge for her entire career to devote two of the four slots in her set to Joplin’s signature song, “Piece of My Heart,” and the Etheridge hit “Come to My Window.”

Similarly, DeWyze should have realized that there are already enough cover versions of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” and unless he could do something really special with it (which, apparently, he can’t), he should stay away. And, if Randy Jackson were around, he surely would have let DeWyze know that his closing song, Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” was seriously pitchy.

The tour comes to the Prudential Center in Newark on July 20, and auditions for next season will be held at the Izod Center in East Rutherford on Aug. 3.

via New Jersey Online | Photography by: Zach Ornitz/The Star-Ledger

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  • pam bilo

    I lovvvve this guy. We think the same about Lee. Thank You!!!!