By JACK CORAGGIO
It’s the traveling show that annually reunites the top 10 contractually obligated finalists from the previous television season’s competition phenomenon, the flagship program of the Fox network, the contemporary Ed Sullivan Show. This, as Ryan Seacrest might say in his dramatic big radio tone, is American Idols LIVE!
But something was off Friday night, when the recently rearranged and abbreviated tour suddenly stopped at Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard some seven weeks ahead of schedule.
No hype, no glitz, no Hollywood. Just 10 young, relatively inexperienced artists of disparate styles rapidly switching places and changing paces, two-to-five-song individual sets jumping from explosive modern rock to country twang to soothing soul music. Without any infamous Simon Cowell barbs or Randy Jackson dawgs to buffer the transition, momentum became unfortunately clumsy and seamed.
Now make no mistake, while they’re the graduating class of the show’s lowest-rated season, this cluster of young men and women are immensely talented vocalists, and in a few cases, guitarists, sure to enjoy later success on their own terms.
When runner-up Crystal Bowersox brought her rocking rendition of “Piece of My Heart,” it was so earthy and sincere she momentarily became Janis Joplin reincarnate. Or when headliner and ultimate American Idol Lee Dewyze came through with his customized version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” the contrasting generations (primarily pre-teens and their parents) stood together as peers.
Naturally, Connecticut’s own Katie Stevens, the Middlebury native just barely out of Pomperaug High, stirred the crowd to frenzy, countless Stevens’ image placards waved about as she belted Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter.” In total, she probably earned higher screeches and cheers than Dewyze.
But with no tightly cropped close-ups to intimately face the voices of budding superstars like Emo-poet Andrew Garcia or romance novel character turned electric guitar hero Casey James, no cut-away reaction shots of teary-eyed teens to splice between, the larger-than-life cast were all too life-sized.
Alone they stood, the backing band in the shadows, performing the covers that earned them television stardom, but on a stage too big and empty for these newcomers to handle comfortably. Even “Big Mike” Lynche, not an ironic nickname, was dwarfed on the lonely plane.
Indeed, the cosmic star power that during the season illuminated living rooms every Tuesday and Wednesday night through the prism of a TV screen was noticeably dim. It was an inadvertent testament to the magic of quality television production value.
via CTnow.com | FOX CT | Photography By Patrick Raycraft, Hartford Courant