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James Durbin steals the show during the San Jose tour stop.

Concert Review: American Idols Live! in San Jose, CA 07.13.2011

This week the American Idols Live! tour rolled through San Jose, CA to the delight of the masses who showed up to see one particular Santa Cruz native by the name of James Durbin. Just the mere mention of his name at the top of the show by season 10 runner-up, Lauren Alaina, resulted in an eruption of cheers from the crowd.

And I must say that Durbin didn’t disappoint. He appeared in a couple group numbers during the first half of the show, but it was his entrance for his two-song set that had the audience at the HP Pavilion on its feet.

Entering from the back of the building wearing a San Jose Sharks jersey, singing Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’Mine,” Durbin shook hands as he made his way up to the stage. Towards the end of the song he held his microphone out to the audience and, without any real prodding, they sang the chorus back to him. I have to hand it to Durbin. He’s charismatic, has great stage presence, and absolutely relished every moment of his solo performance, wherein he took the time to thank the fans for voting for him and for the overall support he received from the Bay Area.

But Durbin wasn’t the only Idol who amped up the crowd. Paul McDonald got the people on their feet in the first half of the show during his lively performance of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” Naima Adedapo’s rousing rendition of Jennifer Lopez’s current hit, “On The Floor,” complete with an African dance break, was one of the most well-received performances of the night.

Other highlights included a fantastic duet between Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone, who sang Rihanna’s “California King Bed.” Casey Abrams’ cover of Carlos Santana’s “Smooth,” in which he played his stand-up bass, was personally one of my favorite moments of the night, as well as Haley Reinhart’s flawless performance of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.”

The two Idols that really left me in awe of their vocal ability, though, were Lauren Alaina and season 10 winner, Scotty McCreery.

Last week Alaina sprained her ankle after falling down the stairs backstage during one of the shows. And throughout this night she was sporting a special bedazzled boot. A sprained ankle definitely didn’t stop Lauren from giving her all during her set, however. Her talent seriously cannot be denied. The notes she hit while performing her single, “Like My Mother Does” were chill-inducing.

One of the coolest moments of the night was a video montage of all 10 Idol winning moments, which ended, of course, with Scotty McCreery’s win. With excitement in the air, the 17-year-old hit the stage performing the Josh Turner song that started it all, “Your Man.” As soon as McCreery sang its opening line, “Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low,” the crowd went nuts.

McCreery worked the stage throughout his five-song set, which included Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing At All,” which was performed as a duet with Lauren Alaina. He closed his solo time on stage with Montgmery Gentry’s “Gone,” which had the audience up on its feet singing-a-long.

The show closed with all 11 Idols together on stage performing hits from the 1980s. After the Idols took their final bow, Durbin remained on stage even after the lights went out imitating Hulk Hogan’s famous hand-to-ear gesture, which resulted in some of the loudest cheers I have ever heard.

I have to say that season 10’s American Idols Live! tour is thoroughly entertaining, and is one of the better Idol tours I have attended in the past couple of years. With all the pressure of being judged no longer a factor, the Idols are performing at the top of their game. If you’re an American Idol fan, this tour is not to be missed!

The American Idols Live! tour will continue through the beginning of September. Check out the official tour website to find out when the Idols are coming to your town!


Photo credits: Kirsten Coachman

About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her long-running music blog, Wait...WHAT, at Follow Kirsten Coachman on Twitter: @KirsCoachman

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