American Idol 2010 Tour Review

American Idol 2010 Tour

American Idol 2010 Tour

The 2010 American Idol tour made one of its final stops in its national tour with a very clear message: what happens on the series isn't always reflected when the show is translated onto the big stage.  For some like Andrew Garcia or Big Mike Lynche, this leads to significant disappointments, but for Casey James, Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly it was a tremendous opportunity to show what kind of artists they really are.

The 2010 American Idol series has often been criticized as a weaker season than many of its predecessors.  The truth is the Adam Lambert v. Kris Allen battle is a tremendously tough act to follow. But as a whole, this year's American Idol Tour was actually stronger than last year's, with better production values and some great surprises from some of the underdog performers.

The evening started out pretty well with Didi Benami, who did a solid job with ”Lay It On Me” by The Rescues. It was much stronger than other performers who've made it into the top 10 right on the cusp. Her rendition of “Terrified” by Katharine McPhee was simply fantastic. For a moment Didi really showed the talent that got her into the top 10 and made a strong argument that she probably should have finished higher.  "Terrified" was one of the real great moments of the show.

Perhaps the evening's biggest disappointment was Andrew Garcia, whose creative arrangement of “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul secured hin a spot on the show, but proved to be more of a fluke than a real moment of inspiration.  On stage Garcia's "Straight Up" felt forced and lifeless, devoid of any magic it may have had.  His rendition of “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5 felt like an opening act as Garcia failed to create much stage presence. For a fairly big guy, Garcia seemed awfully small on stage and clearly out of his league.

Also out of her element, Katie Stevens had a really uneven set.  Singing “Here We Go Again” by Demi Lovato, Katie Stevens seemed like she was trying to play teenage pop star (right down to the lace finger gloves).  Her rendition of “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera was signficantly better as she seems to really thrive when she's singing in a fuller and deeper register.  As I watched her perform, it struck me that perhaps Katie Stevens would have had a better route to performing as a backup singer for one of the major touring acts. She's got a great voice and some charisma but seems to really need to grow into it.  Getting some experience with some heavy hitters may do her good, but as a Top 10 American Idol finalist it's hard to imagine her doing backup.

Tim Urban

Tim Urban

Tim Urban seemed to have a fair share of detractors during the run of the show. He certainly wasn't a judge favorite, but on stage he showed that he has what it takes to really stand out.  His first song, “Better Days” by Goo Goo Dolls, was extremely solid and showed off Tim Urban's magnetism. Urban effortlessly connected with the audience and seemed right at home on stage. His second song, "Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, didn't go as well. Urban wanted to turn the song into a sing-along, but it wasn't the right song for the crowd to sing along. This lead to a real disconnect and seemed to leave Urban kind of lost in the song.

Siobhan Magnus made one of the biggest entrances of the night. Sporting a faux-hawk, corset and boots, she looked the most 'rock star' of the bunch. Unfortunately Siobhan's set was extremely choppy.  She bounced between vocal styles and almost always landed on her patented scream, but the pieces never really fit together. Sure, it was great to hear her hit the high note at the end of "Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones, but the journey to get there was a pretty rough ride. “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt was even more of a stylistic train wreck. Every time it seemed like she settled into the song, she'd switch her vocal style and the proverbial wheels would come off the tracks. The one song I really enjoyed was her rendition of “Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse; unfortunately, the real star of that song was the backup band, who absolutely let loose on the song.  I enjoy Siobhan's quirkiness and love hearing her hit that high note, but she doesn't seem to have a real musical home or style that works.  Perhaps she'd do well in a metal band using mostly her high register (something akin to Evanescence).

While I'm not a huge fan of Aaron Kelly, he had one of the more solid sets of the evening. From the first note to the last, Kelly clearly declared "I am a country boy!". Much more confident than during the TV series, Kelly did a fantastic job with “Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban. Dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, Aaron both looked and sounded the part and his performance really seemed to resonate with the crowd. Kelly followed up with “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn and then “Fast Cars and Freedom” by Rascal Flatts – all in all a solid set and convincing argument that he has what it takes to become a country music star.

Aaron Kelly was followed by a group number with the first five performers: Didi, Andrew, Katie, Tim, Siobhan, and Aaron, singing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. It was refreshing to see a group number that wasn't lip-synched (which was one of my biggest gripes about the TV series).  Katie seemed much stronger with the vocals of "The Climb" and Aaron took the lead and showed he really has what it takes to step out front.

After an intermission (where we were bombarded with advertising), Michael (Big Mike) Lynche took the stage. Big Mike's rendition of  “Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush was one of the show stoppers during the series but on stage it really lost its magic. Big Mike showed that the moment on the show couldn't be recreated, and like Andrew Garcia's "Straight Up", it was a one shot deal. Big Mike followed up with “Ready For Love” by India.arie, which was a much better performance that captured his true croning abilities.  Unfortunately his closing song, "My Love" by Justin Timberlake, was an absolute disaster. Big Mike started out in falsetto (which simply didn't work), jumped into his normal register, and then tried to rap. It was absolutely painful to watch.

The highlight of the evening was Casey James, who stole the show out from under Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze. His rendition of  “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys was simply amazing, showing off extraordinary guitar skills. All  I could think of during this first song was, "Damn, this boy can really play guitar". Casey James' "I Got Mine" was the real first exclamation point of the evening.  This was followed by “Don’t” by Shania Twain, which was a great example of an artists making a song his own. It was at this point that it stopped feeling like an American Idol Tour and started feeling like the Casey James show.

Casey brought Big Mike back on stage for a nice rendition of  “Have You Really Loved a Woman”. Mike's performance with Casey was stronger than any of his own three songs and it was nice to see the two of them sing together.  The real highlight of Casey's set was “It’s All Over Now” by The Rolling Stones, the hands-down best performed song of the evening.  Casey played a terrific slide guitar and made it clear that he is the best guitarist to have ever performed on American Idol. By the end of the song it was easy to forget that it wasn't an original song – a monstrous task considering its origin.

Crystal Bowersox Lost on Stage

Crystal Bowersox Lost on Stage

Crowd-favorite Crystal Bowersox had the impossible task of following Casey James, and although she sounded great, she was never quite able to surpass Casey's set.  Dressed extremely casually, Bowersox seemed extremely comfortable on stage, almost too comfortable and informal. Although she has a great voice, there was always something missing from her performance.  Her rendition of “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blonds felt passionless and uninspired.  She warmed up a little with “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge, which sounded fantastic, but the follow-up song, “Up To The Mountain” by Patty Griffin, felt limp and weak.  Bowersox seemed so laid back during her performance it seemed more like watching someone sing in a recording studio than on stage. It completely lacked any form of showmanship whatsoever. Bowersox closed with "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin, which again sounded great but really lacked any pizzaz and certainly wasn't strong enough of a performance to argue that she should or could have won American Idol.

Lee Dewyze Winner But Not Champion

Lee Dewyze: Winner But Not Champion

I had really hoped that Lee Dewyze would be able to step in and really pick things up, but his set felt almost as "also ran" as Bowersox. He's opening song, "Beautiful Day” by U2, never really came together and lacked any of the spark that was there when he performed it on the show.  Appreciably better was Dewyze's rendition of  “Rocket Man” by Elton John, an extremely solid rendition of the song which really breathed new life into it.  Dewyze's high point was definitely  “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Dewyze seems to have really connected with the soul of Leonard Cohen's hauntingly beautiful song and he was able to replicate that for the big stage.  Unfortunately this was followed up by  “Treat Her Like a Lady” by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, which was just okay. Dewyze closed with "Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, which came off a lot like "Kings of Leon Light". It just wasn't a strong enough to close on and it never really felt like Dewyze was able to make any form of declaration of being the champ.  Lee Dewyze seems like a really great guy, he sings well and seems to genuinely enjoy being on stage, but he doesn't really offer enough to be a real headlining act. He reminds me a lot of David Cook and I think he'll have a similar career path.

The evening ended on a real low note with a very short medley of  “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi sung by the men and “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson sung by the women with the men joining in at the end.  Throughout the series, the group numbers were almost always lip-synched and it seems like there was a good reason to do that – the group's chemistry isn't quite there and the sum is much worse than its parts.

It's always exciting to see how American Idol translates from the bubble universe of the TV series onto the arena stage. This year's production had its highs and lows, but on balance was a better show than last year's show. With better production values, a much better back-up band, and a stronger flow, the 2010 American Idol Tour was quite enjoyable. The big high point of the evening was Casey James, who I'd absolutely go see in concert again.

Geoff Kleinman

48 Comments

  1. A great review! This review aligns with my impression more closely than any other I've read. Thank you!

  2. Take away Casey's guitar and what do you have? An average singer at best. I agree that Crystal dresses way too casual and sloppy.

    Sorry you didn't care for Lee – I'd guess at least 3/4 of the people attending do, so to each their own opinion. I personally think he is one of the most relevant to come off the show.

    Just because he is a white guy with guitar, doesn't make him like David Cook. They are both different. If Lee is as successful as David, he will be doing just fine in the post AI world. No they are not anomalies like Justin Bieber or Susan Boyle, Thank goodness! :)

    Overall, I find the whole show poorly produced and cheaply run. When you consider how much money these performers bring in for the AI TV show, you'd think they'd give a bit more effort to this tour. And they should find a quality musical show producer and better qualified stylists.

  3. Nice review. I agree with everything you said about Casey James!

  4. We loved your review so much. Casey James is the one who stole the show!!!! Thanks!

  5. Great review Geoff. Casey James is an absolute star aint he?

  6. Did you see last year's show? This year was a definite step up in production values. I really like Lee but live he just didn't 'bring it'

  7. I agree with your review. Aaron Kelly was a pleasant surprise. I think he definately has a career in country music. Casey James was the best part of the show. He is a true performer and his guitar skills were electrifying. I went to see him in Knoxville and he had the whole arena on their feet. "I Got Mine" was a song I had never heard before but wow he flat played the heck out of it. I am happy that he got signed to Sony Nashville. I think he will be the most successful one out of this season.

  8. I am a huge Lee fan and he sings the kind of music that I like plus I love his raspy voice. Casey is a great guitar player but that's as far as it goes for me, his singing is just okay.

  9. casey is a total performer, his voice and guitar skills plus xcellent stage presence and charisma. i've never been hooked to a performer until casey showed up to the world. i'm now an addict to him.

  10. Casey is a complete performer…he chooses songs that he loves as a true musican — and not a vocalist's showboaty songs. I love his singing voice and his guitar skills…just because he doesn't pick typical vocalists' songs doesn't mean he is in anyway an inferior singer than the other Idols.

  11. Casey is just OK as a singer he could be singing with a band but isn't lead singer good. Lee stands out on his own as a powerful artist. Both Lee and Crystal are talented singers and don't need anything else but their beautiful voices—they are both awesome!!!

  12. Casey James totally stole the whole show! I couldn't agree with you more…the guy is electrifying. I predict he will be the most successful idol of season 9. I really thought Aaron was the second best, followed (surprisingly) by Tim. Casey James is the total package: talent, looks, personality, humbleness…he's going to be HUGE!!!!! Luv him!

  13. Casey James is simply amazing! The world is full of good singers, but you don't often see someone who can just rock out and play the guitar like Casey. However there is nothing wrong with Casey's singing, he doesn't even have the vibrato anymore, and his voice has got a nice whiskey quality to it, he also has his own sound, you can hear when it is Casey who is singing. Now combine that guitar skills with the voice and Casey's energy and you have something special. My guess is that Casey would be much more popular with people who don't watch idols. I think he is the one who could potentially gain the most fans outside of the idols bubble. I am glad that he has gotten a record deal, but the truth is idols never really "got" him, and they properly never will.

  14. Casey is ok but I am still a Lee fan through and through. I have both of Lee's pre-idol CDs and I love the raspy tone of his voice. I also love that he's a very emotional and passionate singer.

  15. I'm glad you enjoyed Casey's performances. He's my favorite and totally rocked it out at the show I went to. I was glad to hear that he got a record deal. I think he has a bright future.

  16. Geoff, your article is absolutely correct! Casey James is the star of the tour this year…period. He is a talented singer, musician, songwriter and has dedicated the last 12 years of his life to making music. I am so pleased he has been signed and predict him to outsell both the winner and 1st runner-up. His cover of "Don't " gives me chills…he is that great! Sorry, Shania, but I think Casey has really made that song his own… I thought everyone did a nice job at the show, but Casey was just "IT" for me, too!!!

  17. Not getting all the Casey love. I think he's a great guitar player but not that impressed with his singing! I think Lee and Crystal are better singers.

  18. Geoff, you are spot-on in your review! After attending the tour, the only performer I would pay to see again would be Casey James. He was the only reason I went this year and he didn't disappoint! Casey's will be the only album I'll be buying from this group! He is so talented!

  19. You can hear Lee and Crystals voice on any station. Common sound..good, certainly but nothing unique. Casey James has a sound that is lyrically beautiful and distinct. No one sounds like Casey. He is wonderfully…one of a kind and a powerhouse performer.

  20. I agree with ur review and ditto from the LA concert and Anaheim… Casey was the highpoint in those shows as well. He is the real deal.. can't wait to attend one of his concerts!! Had a chance to meet him and he is an amazing guy!! What u see is what u get!! Awesome person!! Kudos for CASEY!

  21. great review! I completely agree that Casey is the one who I would want to see again. He's set is electrifying! I can't wait to see him on a solo tour!

  22. Too funny! All this Casey loving from WOMEN posters. I'm glad it's not just men who think with their genitals!

  23. Lee does not have 1/10 the voice, persona, or stage presence as David Cook, and will not even come close to his success. David is the ultimate performer that leaves you wanting more after one of his shows. I just don't get that feeling from Lee. He has an ok voice.

    Casey is an amazing performer. It takes a lot more than an ok voice to make the paying public come to a live concert. With the price of a concert ticket so expensive, you have to be able to wow them and make them feel like they really got their moneys worth. I can not ever see my self being wowed by just an ok voice. When you couple that voice with amazing guitar skills then you have something worth seeing and getting excited about.

  24. Casey got the most cheers after each song too…a nd man was it fun..to watch him shred…his set was WAY too short!

  25. Having been a former resident of Portland, I wish I could have been at the Rose Garden last night to hear the Idols. Regarding your review, I think that you are a little overcomed by Casey's guitar skills which are fantastic but his singing skills are not that of Lee or Crystal. I also do not think Lee should be compared to David Cook as they are totally different in their singing styles, (David is much more of a rocker than Lee). Lee says his new CD music will something like the music put out by Jack Johnson and Ben Harper and that is not David Cook. I have all of Lee's music pre-Idlol and Idol and I am anxiously waiting for his new CD. I do wish Lee would mix up the CD and put a few covers as that is what he won Idol on and it would give a good variation of sound; although, he has proven by his earlier CD's that he is a good songwriter. I am not surprised that Hallelujah was one of the best in Lee's set as it shows so much how he gets emotionally into a song and has a "moment". I am a senior citizen and dearly love this man's music!

  26. Casey gets everything! It was too short after four songs. I want to see Casey's own concert. I hope he makes really good music with Sony-Nashville and becomes a new music sensation in the future. Go Casey!!!

  27. I agree with Jean. Casey is a fantastic guitar player but the vocals just aren't there. Or maybe its his looks that are attracting you all! I was not at this particular concert but I did see them in concert. Lee is an amazing songwriter just listen to Slumbeland and So Im Told. Don't think I've heard any of Casey's pre idol stuff. Anyway, everyone has their own opinions, I'm just not getting all the Casey love.

  28. Ceci, don't agree with you there. I don't think there is anything special about Casey's voice just that he's a great guitar player. Lee's stage presence at the concerts has been amazing. I also think Lee has a very commercial voice and is very current. Casey kind of just stands there and plays the guitar, doesn't move around.

  29. Casey is definitely the stand out on the AI tour. Clearly the BEST performer (voice and guitar skills)… Totally rockin' out. He will be the STAR coming out of this tour… Will sell more albums than any of the rest.

    Money will talk – people are gonna pay to hear him and see him on his own tour…. he's gonna kill it on the Sony Nashville label.

  30. Hey, Ceci, you mention David Cook's career as if it is something negative. I am sure he made more than you last year. So you are a Casey fan? Where were you on top 3 night? Should have had a voting party, I suppose.

  31. Maybe Lee had a bad night because at the Idol show here he was the definite standout. I have to agree with what my radio station said about Casey during the season. He would make a great lead guitarist in someone else's band but he doesn't have the vocal ability to be to lead a show. I was pleasantly surprised by Aaron and Tim's stage presence but believe America got it 100% right naming Lee and Crystal #1 and #2.

  32. I was front row at the Portland concert, and I have to agree with this review. Casey was completely at ease on that stage, while Lee seemed so forced. He blasted out every note with no nuance and a blank stare the entire time. Casey, Crystal, Aaron and Siobhan seemed completely connected. Lee may have gotten more screams from the teenyboppers, but Casey was the one people were marveling about afterwards.

  33. Susan, I agree with you. I saw Lee at the Hershey PA show and he was the definite standout in the show. Casey was good but nothing like the raves he is getting here. I also agree about Lee and Crystal deservingly being 1 and 2.

  34. Great review! I SO agree with you! Casey is the true STAR of the show! He totally blows me away! He has a great voice, killer guitar skills and an amazing stage presence. His looks are just icing on the cake. He was so held back on Idol with the crazy theme weeks and minute and a half songs. Now he can really shine! Casey has a great future ahead of him. Glad he got a record deal and am SO looking forward to his first CD!

  35. Well the idols tv show is over now, all of the idols will have to hold their own in the real world. I tend to find that idols and idols fans sometimes put too much emphasis on some things, while they totally ignore other things. There is for example an overemphasis on being some kind of a more diva type of singer with a big voice blaring out songs, while they really don't seem to get the more subtle performances. Just having a good voice for example, is also no guarantee or measure of any future success after idols. Otherwise people like Justin Bieber or Britney Spears wouldn't be very popular. In fact there is loads of stars in the music industry these days with much weaker vocals then Casey James, and their lack of vocal ability doesn't seem to be stopping them.

    But Casey is actually a good singer, there is nothing wrong with his singing, he is just more of a subtle type of singer, so it is obvious why idol audiences didn't always get him. I love Casey's voice and the tone of his voice. He can also portray emotion and a certain type of longing in his singing, like when he did Jealous guy, you can literally feel the song and the emotions, not many singers can do that.

    I also like Lee's raspy voice, his off keyness doesn't even really bother me all that much.
    But I definitely prefer Casey musical chops to Lee's folk-rock thing, it is obvious that Casey is very highly skilled, and that is something amazing to watch. Some people obviously just dont understand all of the effort involved to reach this level of playing, I recall some interview with a family member or something of Casey's who said that he practices a minimum of eight hours a day, that takes an enormous amount of dedication, and some people can obviously appreciate that level of skill.
    Musical concerts is not just about singing, it is about showcasing all of your talents and entertaining people, and it is obvious that Casey is entertaining people now that he is able to showcase the full extend of his talent.

    But the show is over and the real work starts now, Lee, Crystal and Casey have all been signed. Their goal would now be to gain non-idols fans, if they truly want to be successful and have a long term career. In the long term I think Casey is the one who could potentially gain the most non-idol fans.

  36. @Michelle
    Perhaps you should read my post again. I am a ardent fan of David Cook. I stated that there is no way Lee could compare to David Cook. As stated above by Jean Johnson, he should not be compared to David as the singing style is so very different. If you have never been to a David Cook concert you should go to one next time he tours. You will see for yourself what a great performer he is.

    As for Casey, I am a fan of Casey James and voted for him on top three night many hundreds of times. I believe he is a very talented singer, guitar player, and has a lot of stage presences.

    Like I said I think you might have misunderstood my post.

  37. Couldn't agree more with everything you had to say about Casey James. After his set, Crystal's was a bit of a downer for me. Everyone was standing up singing and dancing to It's All Over Now and poor Crystal had to follow that. I will definitely be seeing Casey in concert again, probably several times on each of his tours.

  38. Lee is a good singer??!! LOL!!! That"s just funny.The guy can barely sing in tune.Casey is far better IMOmeven without the guitar.Hardly watched the show but the few episodes I were watched,Lee was the worst of the lot.

  39. Thanks all for all your great comments. It was a real surprise to me how amazing Casey was. I didn't go in as a huge fan of his, honestly I always really liked Crystal. But a simular thing happened last year where I went in liking Danny Gokey and really came away feeling a lot less enthusiastic about him.

    Crystal does sing very well. Vocally she's got some serious chops. Her big problem is she has zero showmanship. I totally respect that she wants to be herself, but on stage that self has to be amplified to some respect. Whoever let her go out looking like she just got out of bed and threw some cloths on should really be sacked. She can look stunning, no reason why she shouldn't on stage.

    I like Lee, I'd love to sit down and have a beer with him. At times he really hits the mark with his vocals and has potential. But on the stage he felt like an also ran. Just couldn't match the package that Casey who made you really feel like you were at a show. Aaron too did a great job of making it feel like a real show. I'm not a huge country fan nor a huge Aaron fan, but I respect him for what he's becoming.

    For those of you commenting about the performers who haven't seen the live show, I really encourage you to try to see these guys live, it is a different experience and could really change your view of these 10 Idols.

  40. The bottom line is that everyone has their own likes and dislikes and everyone has their own definition of success. Whatever happens to any of the top ten is successful compared to what they were before idol. I don't think they expect to be chart topping millionares although that would be nice. Even when they were asked about the tour cancellations they all said they were grateful for whatever comes their way which is more than they had before the Idol opportunity so they already have a measure of success and anything else is gravy in this world.

  41. I totally agree with Robyn, what a great review for a well deserving talent! thank you so much!

  42. what is the name of the band that played with the american idol tour, and the back up singer?

  43. Well we just came from the concert that was held in MN – AWESOME!!!! I am not sure what you saw but we saw a great show!!! Everyone gave their all. The only hiccup for me was Sioban and her outfits…..and the ear piercing screaming!!!! Their band was outrageous!!! and the effects were top notch!! Casey is a true entertainer and the music flows thru him….a wonderful artist!! This was the best I have seen Crystal perform…and I liked that she was more casual instead of being forced into outfits that didn't suit her. Lee is still the best and it shows he loves what he is doing and he has the heart to succeed. Not everyone has to be a Janis Joplin or Jimmy Hendrix – shine bright and flame out.

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