Patty's Tampa Recap

Well, I was fashionably late and came in as Mandisa was singing with Ace. She sounded strong and I can see her doing a nice gospel album. By the time the usher got me to my seat, Ace was on with his cartoony heartbeat thing. Ace is hokey but so sweet. He reminds me of a male version of Kellie Pickler, very affable. The kind of people who are so nice and personable you want them to succeed. They both would have a chance in TV and other media as well as music. It's hard to sound good in an arena unless you have a big voice, but Ace was one of the better vocalists, I believe. His voice isn't huge, but it was big enough and it's very pleasing. He has a warm stage presence and talks easily with the audience. He made a point to thank the crowd for voting and said he loved us back or something like that. All in all, he was fun to watch and to listen to. And he does have a million dollar smile. Ace is the place.

Lisa is lovely, sparkles on her face, tiny with an elegant presence. She interacted with the crowd and wanted them to make some noise, as did her best friend Paris when she came out. Lisa played a small electric piano and sang two Elton John tunes. As on Idol, she sounded lovely, but she is still very young. You get the impression she could use some seasoning and some life experiences to give more weight to the emotion she brings to her songs. But I have always liked Lisa and will watch her career. She and Paris are still so young and have plenty of time.

Paris and Lisa did their Waterfalls and then Paris did a very long Crazy in Love. When Paris does her infamous dancing and shaking booty thing, it was not so wild to me; it was more like what you would see on the football field from the cheerleading squad with a good, black-style marching band. Paris likes to move. She had fun up there but I would rather see her dress in her '40s attire and do some amazing jazz number as she did on Idol, because, for me, that's where she really showed how gifted she is vocally and how mature a stage presence she can be.

Sweet Bucky. He looked like he had just finished a shift at the auto body shop and gave the impression of having wandered on stage by accident. He has this weird stutter skip thing he does back and forth, back and forth across the stage when he sings. I really like Bucky but the arena is the wrong setting for his voice and his laid-back persona. He needs a nice roadhouse band and just to play good southern rock venues like open air festivals, or anyplace with beer kegs. I think his voice is perfect for the right song --like his part on Tobacco Road during the final. The arena, with the loud back-up band, is not right for our Bucky, IMO.

Bucky introduced Kellie, who gamely came out and waved like the sweet girl she is. Intermission.

Chris has a great arena rock voice; that's who he is. His voice is nice and big and he seems to be able to do what he wants with it effortlessly. He roused the audience with his strong vocals, said a few words to the audience, waved to people, seemed pleasant enough and happy to be there. The crowd gave him the props he deserved. Nice and loud! He looks and sounds just like the kind of bands (Live, Fuel) he loves and he seems to be following in their footsteps, which is great. It's not the kind of music I follow much or buy (for that kind of sound I prefer bands with some humor/irony/sense of pagentry/oddness to them, like The Darkness or, of course, Queen), but I do like it and have no problem with straight arena rock ballads and the like. It's just not something I ever go out and buy. But there is a huge market for it and he ought to do very well. Good for Chris and his family!!

Elliott came out with his jaunty cap and sang a song with Chris. It was okay. I think Chris' voice perked up Elliott's side of things because it's more alive and contemporary sounding. I was thinking, That's what's so nice about AI, that here's two people who probably would never wind up on a stage together otherwise, or even hang, and here ya go. It was nice and I think Elliott might consider doing jazz duets for a whole set somewhere because his voice sounds even better with something contrasting against it, at least in this big hall.

When Chris left, it was a bit harder on Elliott. Although he was good, it is hard to follow the big energy and sound of arena rock, and esp. if you are a jazz vocalist who loves riffy, complicated songs. Although the acoustics were decent, this is a big arena where the hockey team, The Lightning, plays. I would love to see Elliott perform in a great jazz club somewhere with just a piano and drummer and bass player. That would be smokin' hot. And I would like to hear him mix it up more, slow down and sing a beautiful jazz ballad, close his eyes and really put some emotion into it. But in general, he seems more relaxed as a performer than he was on the show and that's good. All this performing helps.

Then the guys all came out and did their Patience song. It kind of bored me. I know it got a lot of love all during the tour, but for some reason I wasn't able to get into it very well.

Then Katharine came out. She is lovely but seems a bit uncomfortable on stage to me, with her awkward banter and all. It wasn't the cast; I think she moved well despite it. She just doesn't give me the impression of being comfortable up there yet. She seems very, very young. The little kids especially loved her and there were a few shout-outs from the grown-ups, too. But as with all the girls, her audience was a bit more subdued than for the guys. Her voice was okay but not all there yet. Her stagy dress and persona were a bit different from the rest of the group. I hope she gets to do Broadway, as she would like. She wants to act and has a good voice and is lovely, and I think sticking to script and doing the same routine every night would give her a comfort zone and make her easier to watch. For some reason, she still makes me uneasy.

I posted most of this Taylor recap in Ash's place as well...Should let you know that I am a member of the Soul Patrol and have a leather bracelet to prove it.

Um, it's hard to describe what it's like watching Taylor Hicks perform live and in person, but I'm a gonna try. Just to let you know, he did the same songs he's been doing in the same order; he had on faded jeans, a gray jacket and white shirt, changed to dark shirt for encore. And here's what the thing felt like to me:

Where to begin, where to begin.

Taylor, Taylor Taylor...tore the house down. Tore it down. The crowd was in a frenzy and stood the whole time, except for DIMYP where it got kind of reverential and quieter. Taylor was in a mood – a mischievous mood, a happy mood. There was joy exuding from his every pore. I think he was ecstatic to be finally on the Gulf Coast and going home to B’ham, and his joy was contagious. Plus we were a great crowd and he said so. To me, he looked as happy as when he won Idol. When I think of other performers, I think of smoothness, or irony, or what have you. Taylor is joy. And that’s so unusual today. Taylor is like some rare butterfly that you have heard about but probably won’t ever see in your lifetime – and then you do. And it’s awesome.

He sounded really great, but I esp. hope somebody captured this whole thing on video because of his mischievous looks, his harmonica taunting, etc. He was so funny – doing goofy and happy and loving and carefree things like coming towards us in slow motion for a few beats, stuff like that. He kept saying something -- wouldn’t play the harp even though it was in his hand and it was time -- kept saying something like Should I play the harp? Or Do you want me to play the harp? (Or maybe it was, Come on, Come on, as someone elsewhere posted. Anyway, it was some kind of taunt.) Over and over for a few secs, until finally he let it happen. And of course the crowd goes wild. Taylor is a harmonica sadist!! I never in my life thought I would throw those two words together, believe me!!! lol

He was constantly moving to the beat in his great way and the audience was up and grooving, too. There is something almost freakish about the way he connects with his audience. His every expression is not just in his face but electric through his whole body. The stage really is his home. Even when he’s a dork, he’s good. (And I still love the dork in him, happy to report there are still traces of it.) He’s just so full of joy that you cannot resist. He loves performing, loves the music, the beat, loves living in the moment. And you’re right there with him. Like with the best art, you get this moment of enlightenment where you feel, This is how I should live. And that’s why I love the performer in him, because he shares it all, and it’s very powerful, and what he has to share is goodness and light, because he is a good person. You can trust your soul to Taylor Hicks.

He doesn't talk too much to the audience but the interaction feels much more...intimate. Like the minute he starts performing, you are already in the middle of something and not separate and listening. It's pretty cool. It's like some sort of relationship rather than listening to someone. He gives the impression of relating to the audience in a direct way that is beyond words and yet it's very sweet and playful. Very free. But commanding. He had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Anyway, I really like where Taylor is coming from musically, voted for him, etc., etc., but for some reason was not expecting to be this blown away. I'm a music lover and go to concerts but really can't remember being this blown was just awesome.

The End:

The cheesy group numbers, yada yada, Taylor goofing off at the end, very playful mood, was the last to leave the stage and blew us all a kiss. Oh, I liked where he named the cities in LIA and called out, St. Petersburg, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tampa. Only a local can really appreciate that. I live in St. Pete, near the beach. Tampa is a big city across the bridge. Tampa Bay is the whole region but St. Pete is always forgotten, even though the Devil Rays play in St. Pete, etc. He was so smart to remember us! Yay! (I've been to lots of concerts in Tampa and very few artists have acknowledged St. Pete.) As a sports fan and Gulf Coast lover, he must have been aware of that. Anyway, he gives the impression of thoughtfulness, that he thinks of everything.

As for the AI band, there were two keyboardists, a guy on lead electric guitar, a bass player and the drummer. there was a bongo guy for that cherry tree song and i felt sorry for him because -- i don't know. something about the song. i esp noticed the lead guitarist on chris' songs because of the rock god type of songs they were; he was really smokin' and used lots of wah wah pedal. chris played an amped acoustic. taylor strums a lot on rhythm. i noticed that taylor likes to hang back with the band when he has a chance and gives them lots of props, eye contact...a real band guy.


It was surprisingly moving as well as fun to see all these kids up there, with their hopes and dreams, people that I've known this whole past season. The wonderful thing about AI is that each of us, no matter what we are going thru in our own lives, has some measure of power to really help dreams come true for some deserving person or people. I'm glad I voted.