Concert Reviews

Last Night: American Idol Live at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

American Idol Live
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Better than:
Watching paint dry. I think.

I don't remember if there was ever a talent show episode on the original Beverly Hills 90210. But if there had been, I imagine it would have looked a lot like last night's show. Splashy lights, pretty outfits, nice voices, and mind-numbing boredom.

Sure there were a few bright moments. Casey Abrams was kind of a hoot. He was working the sexy ugly and playing the bass, singing "Smooth." The guy has a great voice. But he's goofy as hell, making silly voices and preforming the guitar solo vocally instead of with a guitar.

He was joined on-stage by Haley Reinhart to do some crooning and scatting and dashed around the stage to get the spotlight to follow him. "It's so hot here," he said. "I'm trying to drink water. But it's getting harder and harder to breathe." And you can imagine what he sang next.

Nine of the performers, all in red suits, did a rendition of "F U that fell pretty flat. Although Naima Adedapo did put on a little attitude briefly for the number. And then, deus ex machina, Ryan Seacrest appeared on the large on-stage screen to announce the intermission.

(Strangely, videos played as well as commercials for everything from Macy's to Farmer's Insurance to Coca-Cola during the twenty-minute break. So, it's just like watching TV, I guess. Ugh.)

Lauren Alaina came out in a sparkly 80s prom dress with equally sparkly cowboy boots to start the second half. She sang her single "Like My Mother Does" (originally recorded by season-seven American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook.) And, though she has some serious lungs, that's pretty much all she has.

The show definitely makes you appreciate real stars, people who command the stage and dare you to look away. James Durbin sure tried, heading to the stage through the audience singing Sweet Child O' Mine, sporting a bandana on his head, tight jeans with feathers and chains hanging down, and two black lines drawn under one eye.

"They will not force us. And they will stop degrading us. And they will not control us," Abrams sang, which seemed a little ironic since I understand that Idol contestants sell at least a good chunk of their souls in order to join the tour.

But, it's hard not to think about the fact that a year or so ago this gang was figuratively (if not literally) flipping burgers and now they're selling out the Verizon Theatre. I'm afraid that says more about people's mediocre taste in music than the talent onstage.

There was then a bizarre segue, or really a lack thereof, to Jacob Lusk skipping and prancing and saving the hour -- a least for a minute -- with a few 70s tunes with lights and video a la Soul Train. And he did a great rendition of "You're All I Need to Get By."

Finally, they showed the videos of the winners being announced at the end of each Idol season. And as they showed the video of Season 10's winner being announced, out he came, Scotty McCreery.

He sings "Your Man" and "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," and it's amazing that this big, deep, sexy country voice comes out of this cute, little country boy.

"I'm a North Carolina boy but I feel right at home here," he says. "I can get a sweet tea here. You can't get sweet tea in Los Angeles. They think you can add sugar after you make it and I tell them you can't do that."

He performed "I love You This Big" and "When You Say Nothing at All" before Randy Jackson showed up on the video screen. "The boy, Your dog, Randy here in the house with you. The Idols are going to rock your city. Are you ready?" It was so cheesy that I turned to my twelve-year-old and asked if she had any crackers. (Cheese begets cheese.)

The finale consisted of a mash-up of "Here I Go Again," "Faithfully," "Walk This Way," and "Any Way You Want It." All eleven of them were all over the stage, often causing a bit of a clusterfuck. At least one of the mikes went out.

But, man, the audience sure loved it, cheering and standing and clapping and dancing. And the performers really can sing. But good singing voices do not artists make. Oh, and, considering the cast that they just happened to end up with, I think they should just call the whole endeavor American Stereotype.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I watched Idol first season. It was interesting enough the first time around. And I managed to watch a few episodes of every season thereafter, which mostly looked like reruns of the first season, barring the judge switcharoos. I think I saw one episode of Season 10.

By The Way: I missed the first hour of the show. Ten minutes because of traffic. Fifty minutes because they couldn't track down one of my tickets. They couldn't find one of Dallas Morning News Reviewer Darla Atlas' tickets either. I'm not complaining though. Joking with her and her plus one was more entertaining than most of the show.

Random Note: Cotton candy was only $3. I swear it's $10 or $12 at the American Airlines Center, which is highway robbery.

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Jenny Block