Tour Review: 'Aaron Kelly fans, friends turn out for 'Idol' concert' [Giant Center in Hershey, PA]

By CHRIS MAUTNER, The Patriot-News

Team Aaron was out in full force last night at the Giant Center.

Busloads of people, young and old, came from Lycoming and Sullivan counties for the “American Idol Live 2010” concert to show their support for their hometown hero, contestant and Sonestown resident Aaron Kelly, 17.

Wearing T-shirts with Kelly’s picture emblazoned on them, boasting buttons that declared their allegiance and carrying signs that said “Sing Your Heart Out Aaron,” Kelly’s friends, neighbors and those just those happy to see a local boy make good came out for what amounted to a homecoming concert.

“We just want to hear him sing and support him so he knows we’re here, and scream and holler for him,” said Sue Szklanka of Dushor, whose daughter went to school with Kelly. “It’s just nice to see someone who’s a role model share his gift.”

“It’s been really cool,” said Linda Newman of the Muncy Valley area about Aaron’s appearance on the show. “He’s such a good hometown boy. We’re really happy for him.”

And Kelly didn’t let them down. Taking the stage as a throng of people got to their feet halfway through the show, his hair slicked back and a decided country twang in his voice, he exuded confidence and as he belted out a boisterous rendition of Keith Urban’s “Love Somebody Like You”  that belied his youth.

The rest of the show moved along speedily. At this point, nine television seasons and subsequent tours in, “American Idol” is a well-oiled machine, with little opportunity for improvisation or a switch-up in the set list. You don’t go to a show like this for surprises or unscripted moments.

Still, most of the performers acquitted themselves well, which was impressive considering they were often dwarfed by a large stage that spewed lasers, lights, smoke and videos at every opportunity. Andrew Garcia offered a solid, Latin-flavored version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,”  Siobahn Magnus went into headbanger mode with her piercing rendition of “Paint It Black,” and launching into the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days,” the affable Tim Urban sounded better than he ever did on the show.

But it was the final four contestants that really made the evening worthwhile. Michael Lynche offered touching, soulful renditions of “This Woman’s Work” and “Ready for Love” (Lynche had the best on-stage patter of the night too). Casey James tore apart the stage with his guitar pyrotechnics and bluesy growl on The Black Keys’ “I Got Mine.” (easily the best and most un-Idol moment of the night). Crystal Bowersox delivered a fantastic gospel rendition of Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain.” And “Idol” winner Lee Dewyze proved he deserved the title with an excellent set that included a rhythmic switch-up on U2’s “Beautiful Day,” a to-the-rafters rendition of Kings of Leon’s “Need Somebody” that he sang as if his life depended on it, and a rock-tinged “Rocket Man” that dared to steal a verse from Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.”

But in the end it was Kelly’s night. And he seemed thrilled and happy to be up there on stage performing.

“It’s awesome for a kid to come out of [Sonestown] and pursue his dream,”  Szklanka said.


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