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Concert Review: The Amercian Idol Concert, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, August 20, 2008

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OK. I admit it. I went to the American Idol concert in Ft. Lauderdale. I am kind of embarrassed to admit it, but the reality is that American Idol has been a great show for musicians all over the world. As a writer and website owner that seeks to find new talent, I would be remiss if I didn’t check this little show out.

I realize that American Idol is fairly silly most of the time and they make these kids sing ridiculous songs, but in the end, their objective is (other than making a zillion dollars) to find new talent. They have achieved that by discovering artists such as Chris Daughtry,Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordan Sparks, and now David Cook. That makes it worthwhile. The journey is crazy, but by the time they go through everything involved in the show, these guys are seasoned professionals.

If you remember a show called Rock Star INXS and Rock Star Supernova, you saw a great show with a much higher level of overall talent. These musicians were just that, musicians. The show allowed them to play instruments, write their own songs, and be original.

American Idol made some great progress this year in that respect. By allowing the artists to play their instruments, the audience was drawn to the artists who had more talent than just a voice. Next year, they need to open the window a little larger and give more creative freedom to them. They can’t pigeon hole them into specific artists music like Diana Summer or someone from 30 years ago. It’s got to be current and creative. David Cook won because he took the chances and showcased his tremendous talent.

As far as the show, I’ve got to say it was good. Not great and not bad. Just good. The concert was a lot like the TV show. Each artist performed three songs and they moved in the order which they got eliminated. The songs were abbreviated versions of the originals and primarily were songs they sang on the American Idol show.

The first five artists seemed like they were rushing through the songs and never really sold the audience on their commitment to music. They performed well, their voices were great, and they looked good. They will all have some future in the business but nothing major.

The highlight of the five was Kristy Lee Cook. She sang pretty well but mostly she is absolutely, drop dead gorgeous. She could have a decent country album. Michael Johns has good voice and sang well, but I thought he was kind of strange in his delivery. He bounces a lot and not really with the beat of the music. That bothered me. He did a nice job on “Dream On” by Aerosmith.

Chikezie was solid, but his music is just not my type. I like when he does the blues. Carly Smithson was good but couldn’t really hear her voice over the music and the arrangements sucked. I like her but she needs to find the right music and someone who can arrange it for. She did an Evanescence song that had potential but didn’t quite deliver. The Heart song “Crazy on You” was very good, especially the opening. Ramielle is a hometown girl and she sang well but I went and to get beer during her part. That says it all.

Once we got past these guys, the real talent started to arrive. First was Brooke White. I love the way she presents herself and the songs she chooses fit her well. She is a very strong talent with a bright future. She did “Let it Be” and Coldplay’s “Yellow” on the piano. She sounded great! Really felt she was into the music and worked well with the audience. A definite connection was made.

That brings up Jason Castro. This is a guy you either love or hate. I happen to love his quirky nature and unique talent. He has got a Jack Johnson kind of feel to him. I wish he did “Hallelujah” which was his signature song on AI, but he chose “Over the Rainbow”. Of course he played it with his mandolin. It was a great performance. Loved it! He took out the acoustic guitar and played a couple of nice tunes. "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley and "Daydream" by the Lovin' Spoonful. He was very good with the audience. Definitely a guy I’d love to have beer with. Probably would make you laugh the whole time.

Syesha Mercado, another hometown girl. She is talented and certainly showed off her voice. She has potential but I just can’t get into Rhianna and that type of music. She was very good but didn’t seem to grab the audience.

David Archuleta is a mystery. Here is this kid who looks like a kid and acts like kid. He goes out there and opens his mouth and out comes this incredible set of pipes. When he started singing, you could feel the difference from the previous singers. He has a very powerful voice but needs to get away from the hokey boring tunes and get more current. He started with "Angels" (Robbie Williams) and "Apologize" (One Republic) which is the kind of sound he needs to keep singing. He sounded great and seemed to have worked on his presentation. The songs showcased some edginess to his voice he will need to succeed. The rest was boring from him but you can’t help but like the kid.

Finally out came David Cook. He emerged from below the stage looked and sounded like a seasoned rock and roller. He has a great voice, is a decent musician, and a very creative sound. He has the opportunity to match Daughtry as an American Idol success. It cracks me up that he can perform a Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson song and still be a rock and roller. His performance on “Hello” was masterful but the most incredible performance of the night was by far “Billie Jean”. This song is a powerful adaptation of the song and totally grabs you. I would watch that performance a hundred times. It was incredible. He was incredible.

Here is where the American Idol concert just about made me vomit in my seat. After an amazing performance on “Billie Jean”, David leaves the stage and on comes the whole group singing a very bad version of a really crappy song, Rhianna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music”. It should have ended on a good note. Clearly they had to do a group song but man, couldn’t they have picked something better.

Overall the show was good. Go see it if you can.

Most importantly, please recognize that the world is filled with artists and musicians who are as talented as and more talented than those found at American Idol. I spend much of my time looking for these talents and they are available for you to find. The next David Cook is out there and already performing. The problem is you have not found him yet.

There are many websites out there to help you find these musicians. Find them, listen to them, see them live, buy their albums, and support them so the music will live on!

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  • Nice review. I agree with you about the transition between “Billie Jean” and the group number “Please Don’t Stop The Music.” Those songs do not go together.