I have to admit, I had some real doubts going in to American Idol this season. In fact, we didn't really intend to watch, but I think the DVR was pre-set, so since it recorded back in January, we found ourselves watching. And, what do you know, but we got sucked in! And, ended up enjoying the banter and antics of the combination of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and (despite his need for frequent censorship) Steven Tyler. They all seemed to enjoy each other, and really took interest in the contestants - as well as making rather wise choices for who was narrowed down to the top 24.
By the time the finale was rolling around, we were downright hooked, and could have gone either way between Scotty and Lauren. We were rooting for Scotty, but loved them both, and upon consideration, really enjoyed the majority of the "Final 11" contestants that would end up on tour. So.....after a little bit of research, and some quick phone calls, Michele, Stephie, and I decided to go see the group on tour when they performed in Portland. Back in late April, that seemed so far away, but here we are, already approaching the middle of July.....
The timing of the concert was one part serendipitous and one part crazy as it landed on the night before our family would leave for Sunriver for a week away. However, because we booked the vacation for a Sunday to Sunday, it perfectly worked out to hit the concert. How cool is that? So, yesterday, right around 1:30, I picked up Stephie, and then an hour later, the two of us picked up Michele in Salem - and our trio checked into our Fairfield Inn about an hour after that. After changing and primping, we were on our way to Portland's Rose Quarter for dinner and the concert.
We got to stand around for about 25 minutes outside of the restaurant within the Rose Quarter, The Taproom. They waited to open it at 5:00 - and actually scanned our tickets as we entered the restaurant so we got to avoid the ticket lines all together - and instead leisurely dined until it was time to find our concert seats and wait for the show to begin.
I know that in year's past, they've actually had to cancel some of the summer Idol concert dates for lack of attendance, but it seems that this season did indeed appeal to more folks than just us, as every seat filled up - even the ones high enough to nearly touch the season. We weren't especially close to the stage, but were relatively low down - good enough seats for us, that's for sure.
My little point and click sure didn't do justice to the experience (even if I had taken John's camera, they wouldn't have let me bring it in). However, I'm posting the pictures for history sake - to prove we were really there.
To say we were impressed would be an understatement. Everyone brought their "A Game" and far and away, Pia and Stefano would earn the "Most Improved" award. If Pia had shown the American audience the vulnerability and intimacy she showed this crowd, she might have gone all the way. This picture shows her and Stefano in a duet and it was phenomenal. Stefano worked the crowd and covered all different genres of music - it was clear he was loving every minute of it - and not only did he sound great, but he made sure the audience saw that he looked great too. =)
We figured they'd make us wait for Lauren and Scotty, but surprisingly Lauren emerged in the first group number. We saw more of her than anyone last night (including Scotty, which was our only criticism of the night - we felt like we got "Scotty-jipped"....yes, he had the most solos, but we wish he would have participated in more group numbers from the beginning).
Lauren also opened up the second half. She did a great number, then approached the microphone to "give us a confession". She proceeded to apologize that her boots didn't match her dress as she meant to be wearing heals, but ended up falling down a set of stairs during intermission and had to wear boots instead as her ankle was in such pain. She said she'd been crying for the last 20 minutes and was going to do her best, but to please forgive her if she didn't hit every note or participate in all of the dance moves. Poor thing! While it was horrible that it happened, it just gave us one more reason to love her, and boy, was she a trooper. (And, for the record, she did hit every note!)
Soon after, Scotty emerged and after his first solo, they got to perform their duet together. It was so endearing to watch him carefully escort her up and down the stairs, not letting her go of his physical support until she'd left the stage completely. While I know there's no more to their relationship than really great friends, it just showed how much they really do care about each other. We also suspected that Scotty might have been a little distracted in his performances. Don't get me wrong, he looked and sounded just as great as we'd hoped for, but didn't quite connect with us as others had. I suppose if my best friend had been crying backstage in pain, I'd be a bit distracted too.
What? You can't make out who that is on stage? Yeah, I know, it's a shot of the final number that included them all. I have to say, James Durbin, Casey, Hailey - oh yeah, they "were in it to win it" as well. Even Naima, who was my least favorite contestant on the program, was perfectly matched to cover Jennifer Lopez's new release "On the Floor" - giving her the opportunity to showcase her incredible dance talents. I actually really liked it. Truly, I wouldn't be surprised if record deals didn't result in about 8 out of the 11 contestants - they are all so uniquely gifted and talented. (And, for the record, I'm trying to be nice by not pointing out the folks I wasn't impressed with.....)
So, for sure, it was a night that was well worth it - from the cost, to the distance, to the time away from preparing for our next fun adventure. On top of that, Stephie, Chele, and I had such a good time just being together - being girls, being silly, and enjoying a lot of laughter and fun memories.