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Music review | American Idols improve on tour, but Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta have it all

BY HOWARD COHEN, hcohen@MiamiHerald.com

786-5699834_embedded_prod_affiliate_56 American Idol is easy to champion on TV. Yet its contestants are, all too often, just as easy to forget before the inevitable summer tour of the Top 10 finalists comes around just a couple months after a winner is crowned in May. (Michael Sarver, you were on Idol this season? Who knew?)

The formula was upset a bit in its eighth season -- a year forever to be known as Adam's World.

Of course, we mean Adam Lambert, 27, he of the rubbery pelvis, mascara and polarizing multi octave range and classic rock god moves that all combined in a perfect pop storm to land him on the covers of Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly even before Idol crowned the safer, Disney-approved Kris Allen its winner.

Adam, who finished second, was nonetheless the star of the eighth American Idols Live Tour Wednesday night at Sunrise's BankAtlantic Center.

Base this observation partly on his stellar performance. Adam, who always knew how to make an entrance on TV, didn't disappoint as he exploded with Whole Lotta Love, his convincing Led Zeppelin cover. He brought shivers on Mad World again and he concluded his set with a David Bowie medley that went from space (Life on Mars?) to rave on a clubby Let's Dance, complete with PG-13 hip thrusts.

Also, rank Adam the undisputed star by the decibel level in the arena from moms and daughters any time the San Diego rocker's image flashed on one of the view screens above the bare stage.

But what ultimately made this version of the annual summer cheesefest the best and most entertaining Idol tour to date was its shocking lack of train wrecks. Everyone, from the lower rung who performed in the night's first half, to the top finalists, upped their game and performed with confidence. The smarmy corporate commercials were fewer, too.

As always, Idols Live features the finalists performing in reverse order. Let's judge:

• Michael Sarver, the Texan oil-rigger, had the thankless job of opening the show and was in decent voice on his two songs. But his exhortations to rouse the crowd -- ``We don't go to parties to get to sit down'' -- didn't convince too many to shake their $35 programs or Adam T-shirts.

• Megan Joy, who took to cawing like a bird on TV when things went awry, was close to tolerable on her Corrine Bailey Rae and Amy Winehouse covers, even though it's a truism that if a Paris Hilton doll with a head cold could sing it would sound like Megan.

• Scott MacIntyre, who is legally blind, was amusing when he reminded the audience of Idol host Ryan Seacrest's infamous high-five. ``It was the high five heard around the world,'' Scott quipped. But the whiny, self-important quality that always proved his downfall returned when Scott mocked Idol judge Simon Cowell. That said, Scott sang better live Wednesday than he ever did during the competition.

• Lil Rounds also sounded more in tune than we'd heard from her before on her forceful Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys numbers, but she went too far when she haughtily announced her intentions of doing Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) -- ``When I told my production team I wanted to do this song'' -- and then ran out of wind in the vocal department. She should have put a lid on it.

• Anoop Desai can sing ballads, like his opening Always on My Mind, as well as anyone. But there's a crassness under the surface, revealed during his ill-advised Bobby Brown My Prerogative cover and a later group performance that will keep him an also-ran. ``I'm hopeful I'll be back here in a year with a tour of my own,'' he said. Don't count on it.

• Matt Giraud, one of three who played piano on the tour, was the night's biggest surprise. On TV, Matt was a subpar Justin Timberlake. On tour, he transformed into a young Billy Joel with an exponential improvement in his vocal strength, and the ferocity and dexterity with which he attacked his piano on Hard to Handle brought to mind early Joel.

• Also fantastic, 17-year-old Allison Iraheta, who put Pink's angry (and adult) So What across to the teens in the house and embodied its lyrics -- ``I'm a rock star; I've got my rock moves'' -- and then delivered a flawless Janis Joplin song, Cry Baby. Allison sounds like she's smoked a carton of cigarettes while on an all-night bender singing Joplin records and The Rose soundtrack. These are good things. Allison and Adam also reprised their Foghat Slow Ride cover after his set and it scorched, as expected.

• Danny Gokey worked his widower angle once again with schmaltzy reads of Rascal Flatts tunes. The good news is he sang them well enough, moved with more agility than he displayed on TV and everyone knew his set was soon to give way to Adam's.

• Finally, before the closing group number of Journey's inescapable Don't Stop Believin', winner Kris Allen had his turn and he sang his season's highlights -- Heartless, Ain't No Sunshine and switched off between piano and guitar.

Naturally, it was anticlimactic compared to what had transpired moments before, but in his warm fuzzy and still ambitious way, Kris was likable and helped make this a night of slick musical entertainment you could leave feeling good about.

Caption: American Idol season 8 winner Kris Allen (left) and finalist Adam Lambert during Idols Live Tour at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. Photo by ANDREW ULOZA.

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Sunrise was and is all about Adam. It was amazing to see that 90% of the audience felt as my daughter and I do. We only came out to see Adam. We feel he is the super star, he should have won and he was without question the best in concerts. His vocals soar and are so beautiful to the ear, he works that stage like no other and the audience into a frenzy. The only problem, Adam was over too soon. Kris strained thoughout and is such a downer after Adam.

Can't wait for a solo Adam tour and an hour of just Adam.

Lauren..I didn't know that Sunrise has an official spokesperson when it comes to music preference. Was all of sunrise really present at the show? If so, then it's such a small population. Smaller than Iran and Afghanistan.

Adam fans really get tiresome. Believe it or not but the other Idol's have fans and are appreciated too. In August I am going to a show and the only one I really have interest in seeing is Matt! When Adam comes on I will use the restroom. So you see not everyone is so in love with Adam that they have become blinded to the fact that there are other very talented Idols on the stage.

If you go to the restroom when Adam comes on, you won't have to wait in line, but I think you'll be sorry.

tmare..Then that would be a great time to do the dirty while everybody else is watching the dirt on stage.

I was at the Sunrise venue last night and. The writer of this article gave an accurate description of the night. Adam was electrifying. You can feel his current bedazzle you. From the beginning, when his face flashed on the screen and everyone screamed to the performance that brought everyone to their feet and kept them there the entire set. It was Adam’s World and it should be. We are witnessing the birth of a superstar. The writer was too kind to add that Kris was booed when mentioned by Allison and again during his set. About 20% of the audience left while Kris was singing. I add that because people like Eve, who posted here, are going criticize the writer for praising Adam above Kris when the writer is attempting to be accurate as well as complimentary to everyone.

Eve you are a sick and twisted human, I suggest you get the help you need and stop looking for stories about Adam to spew your hatred. I hope your post are removed as they have been at other locations.

PG 13 moves? he essentially simulates masturbation on stage. just saying.

My 86 year old mother was at Sunrise with me last night and she loves Adam, his sexuality on stage is what she enjoyed the most. If you prudes can't handle a gorgeous man moving his body to music then stay home and watch Disney. I for one like my Rock Gods to be a bit randy.

Vicky, I'm sorry, but American Idol was never an X-rated show that you couldn't bring kids to ~ but after THIS year, I'm beginning to wonder! I'm sorry for Kris and the other 8 contestants who have to share the limelight with this slithering sex maniac!!! I paid good money just like you did ~ but I had to use ear plugs thru most of Adam's set ~ and I wasn't alone in my feelings, I assure you! I attended the Tampa show, and canceled the other show I was going to. Furthermore, Adam was the ONLY contestant who couldn't be bothered coming out after the show to take pictures and sign autographs ~ just as well though because he was NOT missed by my family members! You know, KRIS WON this Season, and there are all types of music in this world! Adam's type of "show" and "music" are not my cup of tea!

I'm so tired of you Adam whiners ~ and I'll be so happy when these guys go their separate ways! I hope Adam makes lots of money and does lots of his own shows, so all you crazies will FINALLY be happy! Thankfully, I won't have to be there to hear great music!

And I didn't go looking for this article ~ it popped up in my "Kris" google alerts because this writer mentioned Kris' name. I get so disgusted reading derogatory remarks about very talented and clean-cut Idols!

Nissan, Adam does not share the limelight he is the limelight in an otherwise boring show. Deal with it. It is obvious that you are sexually repressed if you believe that anything Adam did is x rated. Anoope moved his pelvis in the same way as did Danny in case you failed to notice. It is just more provocative when it is preformed by a beautiful and sexy man like Adam. As far as signing autographs, last night only four came out, Kris, Danny, Matt and Scott. It seems that there was a stalker in Tampa and for safety reasons Adam is not allowed out. I too will be glad when the tour is over. I will not have to keep pointing out what a joke it is that Kris won when he has yet to live up to his winner status. Adam's fans are not the whiners, Adam is living up to all of our expectations as he dazzles the audience every night. Your boy Kris was booed!

I think people are so unfair to Kris. I am an Adam-lover, but Kris has really developed into a major player at the concert. His voice is stronger, and he is more confident than he was on the TV show, and I think he is terrific. Why can't people appreciate all the idols for what they bring to the concert? They have all become accomplished and competent entertainers. I know some are more talented than others, but they are all entertaining in their own right. I loved each and every idol, and I thought the concert rocked.

I think Adam and ALLISON are absolutely brilliant! I went to the show and it was great. The only one that in my opinion was boring was Megan. Chris was charming too!

Just a tiny note, but wasn't the Rolling Stone cover done after Adam shockingly did not officially win AI? Both EW (before)and RS (after)chose to ignore AI officialdom completely and run covers with AI's star contestant and mega talent.

What was unfair was to have Kris win a singing contest when he is obviously not the best singer. I was at Sunrise last night and having a family in the music business I know that the volume was turned up for Kris, his voice was strained and pitchy and his guitar playing was dismal. He also did not sing the lyrics correctly. Maybe it is not nice to say these things but the are true. Did you not witness how many people left? Just where were you sitting?

Thanks all of you for your input...I wanted to be there and you all helped "paint a picture".
I have never cared in the least about an Idol Tour until witnessing a true rock idol Adam Lambert "Born" on TV. He is unbelieveable. Don't you have a yearning to hear more? Can't get enought

I'm surprised at some comments; I listened to several Kris songs from the Tampa concert and just heard mad love and cheers for him

Vicki, you are a tool! All I can really do is laugh at your ridiculous post.
Adam is a headache-inducing loud mouth, and I too, will be taking my bathroom break during his (way too long) set.

went to the Dallas concert and I truely enjoyed every act. I took my neice and nephew who did not watch idol. The only act that they cared for was Adams. My 22 year old neice is an official lamscank now. My nephew said it was all really good karaoke until Adam came on the stage. My neice was more excited than all the rest of us to meet Adam. My sisters and I have been in love with him since his audition. His concert was amazing. He was in a total different league than everyone else.
Sorry ya'll didnt get to meet him because he truely is sweet. Kris, Megan, Scott and Micheal were sweet Matt was not.

At the Dallas concert about 20% or more of the fans left before Kris set ended. NO one left in Adam' everyone on their feet screaming. If you take a bathroom break then you'll miss the best part of the show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Den, in polite society I can not say what I think of your taste. But I will say that Adam had everyone on their feet from the young to the old for his entire performance. No one will dispute this. The only time during Kris's performance that everyone was on their feet was when Adam walked on the stage and created his magic. Again, if you take your bathroom break while Adam sings, you will walk right in, unlike when Kris sings and there is a line at the bathroom and the exit door.

Adam Lambert was named as a singer who can actually sing. With the use of autotone it is difficult to tell who the real artist are. No one would ever mention Kris with his vocals that do not compare to Adam's. "It is difficult to find a male singer these days whose voice has such an incredible range. He can scream like a diva, and also sweetly sing a mellow note. He can sing higher than some females can out of falsetto! Though he's still a rising star, Adam Lambert has shown that he is not to be ignored." Please do not try to say the other 9 are in Adam's league.

Allison will be the most successful of them all.

This was a review and the writer has the right to "write" and not gloss over things to please everyone.
Wish I could have made this concert in addition to the Dallas one as Lambert's set flew by for me and leaving me wanting a whole lot more. He is edgy, over-the-top awesome! Can't wait for his solo tour. All the Idols were good, however and looked great. I enjoyed Adam's set most of all and he was the real reason I drove 300 miles to see the concert.
Yes, Allison will be a force to be reckoned with and I think she's better now than some top teen artists. I don't know about Disney, though, as she is a rocker, like Adam. They are already working on a song together, according to some tweets.
As some can tell, Adam is used to adult audiences. Suits me fine. I like it.

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