Archive for the 'concerts' Category

Reviews, reviews, everywhere reviews.

Mary Colurso blames the difference between the Huntsville concert and last night’s Birmingham concert on poor sound mixing at the former:

[Taylor] Hicks’ singing came through strong, warm and clear, blending with a band that sounded tight and muscular, yet nicely balanced…Part soul, part blues, part pop, part swampy rock, [“modern whomp”] fits Hicks as neatly as his natty suit jackets. Also, Hicks has devised a clever trick for his tour, tacking vignettes from R&B classics onto the end of newer tunes. “The Maze,” for example, morphed into Honey Cone’s “Want Ads” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.” That really worked…To make the maximum impact, the Gray Haired Guy’s gotta dance, and Hicks usually exhibits enough energy to light up a theater marquee. That’s his magic, as “Idol” judge Paula Abdul would say.

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Skittles.

Mary Colurso, a well-known champion of the “no one is interested in listening to Taylor Hicks if they can’t see him, too” theory, did a little write-up of Hicks’ recent Huntsville concert:

Charismatic body language is partly why Hicks, 30, won on “American Idol” last year, spazz-dancing and soul-dipping his way to the TV crown and a contract with Arista Records. Even when the sound mix lacked subtlety — as it often did — or his voice lacked oomph, Hicks compensated by relying on the other gifts at his disposal. They are many: they are visual; they are emotional. They prompted adrenaline-fueled applause from ticketholders in the sold-out house of about 2,150 people. Frankly, this wasn’t the best singing Hicks has done in recent memory, although he obviously gave it his all. With a rasp and a wink, Hicks covered Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks.” Here and there, he engaged in mini-medleys, blending his own material with blues-funk-soul classics. “Wherever I Lay My Hat,” for example, morphed into snippets of “Night Shift” and “Chain Gang.” “The Maze” was combined with “Let’s Get it On.”

Well, I certainly hope Taylor’s taking care of his voice, but at the same time, Colurso has always been a bit (unfairly, in my opinion) dismissive of Hicks’ vocal talents. She and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum — I love seeing Taylor live, but I get the most joy out of listening to his salty-sugary vocals on songs like “Somehow” and “The Right Place,” and I wish he’d do more vocally-intensive songs. Colurso, on the other hand, needs her monkey to dance. Nothing wrong with that, as I believe that Colurso represents the majority, but it’s a shame that Taylor is so often typecast as a visual performer when he really does have the vocal chops to back it up.

In other Taylor news, the silver fox will be using his weekend Alabama concerts for a good cause. Hicks is partnering with the Red Cross to raise money to benefit Enterprise, Alabama, which was struck by a powerful tornado that struck the city on March 2.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Post carried another “why isn’t Taylor selling more albums” article, albeit with a more positive outlook than the AP piece that circulated last week. The Post lays most of the blame for Taylor’s slow sales on the album’s throwback sound, but it isn’t painted as a negative here. The Post also interviewed yet another radio programmer, who had this to say regarding the album:

“I don’t know if any song on the record makes sense for us,” said Brian Douglas, music director at Cincinnati’s WKRQ (Q102), a top 40/adult contemporary hybrid format. “I love the guy. I love the CD. I don’t know if he’s got the sound for any radio station.”

Responds Hicks:

When Hicks is asked if his sound is out of the “Idol” and pop mainstream, he simply says, “There’s all kinds of different genres of music. My style happens to be soul. I think pop is just what’s popular and I don’t think that pigeon holes a style.”

Quite the diplomatic response, and true. Pop is R&B-lite, synthed-out backing tracks, and formulaic rock these days. Eight year ago, it was bubblegum boybands. Before that, it was grunge. Trends change.

Last but not least, check out this article/interview with Hicks by The City Paper Online (skip the comments section; just immature fanbase squabbling there):

Part of Hicks’ desire not to fall into the trap of making generic material is reflected in his choice of “Whenever I Lay My Hat” on the disc, a Marvin Gaye tune Gaye co-wrote with Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield that’s not heard anywhere as often as “Ain’t That Peculiar” or “How Sweet It Is” or for that matter, “What’s Going On” or “Sexual Healing.” “I sure didn’t want to just do the same old thing or any of the Marvin Gaye tunes that are familiar,” Hicks said. Another sign of his deep roots in the blues can be heard on “Gonna Move,” an animated tune that includes a slashing Hicks’ harmonica solo and a mournful, declarative attack that echoes Hinton at his best…”American Idol is a great show and I owe it everything in terms of my control. If there’s any negative thing I would say about it that would be the hurry up and wait part that comes as you move up the line[,” says Hicks. “]But in terms of establishing an identity, helping you reach an audience, getting started, it has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Taylor also puts to bed any suspiction that he and Simon have a personal, ongoing feud. Remember, kids — this is a TV show, and Simon plays a character.

Huntsville review.

From The Huntsville Times:

[Taylor] Hicks took the stage in a sports jacket and jeans to a loud standing ovation and many in the crowd – including everything from 10-year-olds wearing “Chicks for Hicks” T-shirts to old ladies with walkers – never sat down. Hicks sang, danced, played a little guitar, blew on his harmonica and never stopped moving during his nearly 90-minute soul/blues/R&B/rock set. He was a little James Brown, Joe Cocker and Taylor Hicks all thrown into one – often goofy-looking-but-still-entertaining – singing, dancing machine…[but] he threw it into another gear – and might have thrown out his hips in the process – when he launched into “Compared to What” and went into full “Idol” mode. It was the classic Taylor we all know and loved from the show, the dancing fool that irritated Simon Cowell and won over the hearts of all us dance-challenged folks.

Settin’ fires in Knoxville.

From the Knoxville Times:

Performing for a sellout crowd of 1,631 at the Tennessee Theatre, Hicks was like a bluesy gyro, constantly in motion as he belted out most of the tracks from his major-label debut, “Taylor Hicks,” along with a few novel mash-ups. His fans, ranging from 6 to well into the 60s, stayed on their feet along with him…Hicks, backed by a tight six-piece band and one singer, used his years of stage experience and the polish he got from “Idol” to craft a nearly flawless show…While “Taylor Hicks” boasts an uneven selection of songs that often fall short of the singer’s abilities, onstage Hicks elevated even the most inane of them and turned the better cuts into fantastic showpieces…Hicks has a gift of being able to crawl inside a lyric and deconstruct it while making it grander, and he really showed off on this [“Just to Feel That Way”].

The author, Betsey Pickle, also wrote about Taylor in her blog:

In a nutshell, Taylor was terrific. I actually expected that, based on his “Idol” performances. The only thing that had me worried was that he was going to be doing songs from his new album, and I don’t think it’s an amazing collection of songs. But Taylor came through. He worked his tail off, and his voice was in good form. And if I liked the show even with reservations about the CD, imagine how much the fans who love the album enjoyed the concert!…He got out his harmonica and revved up the crowd. Taylor gave “Wherever I Lay My Hat” a groovy vibe that became even cooler when he quieted the crowd and went into a falsetto, which he then used on a few lines of “Rocky Top” before melting into the Commodores’ “Nightshift” and then back into “Hat.” I won’t say it was genius, but it was pretty dang close.

It’s amazing — Taylor has yet to net a negative concert review. Oh, sure, it’s early in the season, and some newspaper is inevitably going to send the resident staff crone who couldn’t stand the guy to suffer through one of his shows, all the while yearning for a pretty singer with a pretty smile. But we’re all beginning to see what’s going on here, aren’t we? There’s something special about seeing Taylor, something you can’t get off that damn CD. You’ve got to see him, you’ve got to feel the electricity that he creates when he performs. In my view, the next time he records, he’d do well enough to not even try to bottle that energy, and to stick with bluesier, acoustic numbers that he can later jazz up and intersperse with peppier stuff at a concert. Let the voice speak for itself on the record; let the energy explode at the concerts.

Mobile lurves Taylor (well, obviously).

The Press-Register reviews Taylors Hicks’ Mobile concert:

By any measure, the enthusiasm was off the charts. Many an artist with more critical acclaim struggles to generate as much fervor in an audience. Hicks has drawn his share of criticism since Fox’s “American Idol” launched him to national stardom, in particular for his herky-jerky dancing and for a soul-music affinity that strikes some as derivative. Still, millions voted for him in the televised talent program. And as he performed Tuesday, it was easy to see why: The man seems to have found a way to bottle exuberance…But in the music, he let himself go. The staging was minimal and the sound quality was no better than average, but on sheer personal energy Hicks kept many of his 1,900-plus listeners on their feet throughout…More to the point, perhaps, was the way Hicks delivered “Just to Feel That Way”: face anguished, body straining, at times standing on tiptoes on the edge of the stage. For an audience of avid fans who indeed just wanted to feel that way, Hicks was just the man to take them there.

Tampa loves Taylor.

From Tampa Bay Online:

Watching Taylor Hicks strut, hunch, wiggle and shake his booty is so much more fun than listening to his “Taylor Hicks” CD which is a rather bland mix of blues and pop…The [Soul] Patrol was out in full force at the Tampa Theatre Thursday night. The place was sold out and Hicks brought them to their feet often. The audience looked considerably older than the fans of previous “American Idol” winners. You wonder how Hicks won the season five “Idol” competition when his audience of more than 1,400 was much more senior and smaller than the 18,000 who watched Justin Timberlake Thursday night just down the street…(Ed. note — de facto winner DAUGHTRY! is playing even smaller venues.)

Yeah, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I still can’t wrap my mind around how all those arthritic geezers managed to pick up a phone and punch in a number without having to take a handful of medication, or even a nap in between.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Taylor Hicks, especially when he cuts loose and covers Ray Charles or does the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets.” He also threw in a little “Tupelo Honey” and “Brown-eyed Handsome Man” Thursday night…It’s great that Hicks won “Idol” because he is such an anti-Idol type. This 29-year-old good ol’ Alabama boy has a decent voice and his musical heart is in the right place. That post “Idol” album was probably more reflective of what Hicks’ music producer Clive Davis felt was commercial. Hicks told the crowd that his new single off the album, “Just to Feel That Way,” almost didn’t make the cut. He said he wasn’t sold on it but “Clive called and said “You need to do this’ and I said ‘Yes, Boss’.” (emphasis added)

And yet, he managed to save that song. I’d totally hate it if it weren’t for the life and feeling Taylor manages to inject into it.

As for the rest of the review…I don’t think it’s really up for debate anymore that people much prefer seeing Taylor live to listening to him on a CD. I like them both equally, but I realize that I’m in the minority, and that’s fine. Taylor will do okay, even if he doesn’t manage to outsell High School Musical.

He likes the nightlife, he likes to boogie.

There are two or three reporters at the St. Petersburg Times who absolutely hate Taylor Hicks with the passion of a thousand burning suns. So the Times, because it cares about its credibility (I’d assume; it could have been because the others walked out in protest) sent its only neutral reviewer — a guy who’d never really heard Hicks sing before — to last night’s show. Aaaaaaand? He kinda liked it.

He strapped on a guitar (he wasn’t terrible) for about a third of the set and played his own songs “Hell of a Day” and “The Deal.” You could tell he was having more fun playing his own material. Indeed, Hicks was at his best when he felt free enough to let his salt and pepper shake, and produce enough facial contortions to spook Joe Cocker. His goofy signature dance move – I call it the Jive-Walking Hunchback – is just dorky enough to make you grin…If Hicks wants to blossom, he might do well to let loose a little more often. He’s not a bad showman, but he’s a surprisingly solid musician. There’s no shame in being a modern standard-bearer for the white-bread blues; just ask Huey Lewis or Michael McDonald. Indeed, Hicks’ finest moment was the closing song that’s become his anthem, McDonald’s “Takin’ It to the Streets.” It was energetic, even dynamic, and Hicks’ harmonica work – outstanding, by the way – was really fun. The crowd loved it all. Me, I could have used more of the bluesy stuff. But his career will be fine either way. The Soul Patrol will see to that.

I could use more bluesy stuff, too. Ahh, maybe next time.

So were you wondering last night how it was that de facto Season Five winner (as far as TPTB are concerned) Chris Daughtry had his song “Home” selected to replace Bad Day? According to Variety, it wasn’t part of an evil plot to erase all memory of Taylor Hicks from the collective Idol consciousness:

Unfortunately for the “Idol” producers, Powter was signed to Warner Bros. As a result, his record label reaped big coin, while the “Idol” camp got bubkas. It’s no surprise, then, that this year’s exit song comes from Daughtry, a band fronted by 2006 “American Idol” contender Chris Daughtry — and signed to RCA/19, the official “Idol” record label. But Iain Pirie, head of 19 Entertainment U.S., said the song’s selection wasn’t a matter of keeping things all in the family. Back in October, Pirie had a meeting with “Idol” exec producer and 19 exec Nigel Lythgoe. Given Lythgoe’s role in helping launch Daughtry, Pirie figured he’d want to hear some tracks from the group’s upcoming album. “I brought a rough version of ‘Home’ and played it for Nigel. He called up Simon Fuller right away, and they both agreed right away that the song had the sentiment to be the perfect ‘Idol’ exit song,” Pirie told Daily Variety. “It seemed to fit perfectly.”


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What the kids are sayin’



"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."



"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."



"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "