Clay Aiken, Raleigh, North Carolina, March 12, 2010 – oh my, what a night. I’m going to come clean right off the bat and let everyone know that I am NOT good at recapping. I get so caught up in what is on that stage that I cannot process little tidbits, so this recap will not be song by song, except maybe a few, but more my general feelings and impressions.
The pre concert excitement was palpable – sitting in an auditorium with hundreds of my closest friends waiting for the man who brought us all together to hit that stage. It had been WAY too long. Sitting in the 2nd row, the best seat I have EVER had for any concert I have attended, I almost couldn’t sit still.
First off, I must give a shout out to whoever it was who did the lighting and the set design for this taping. It was magnificent, pure genius. It set an amazing ambiance that complimented, but never overshadowed, the amazing talent on that stage. I have been to hundreds of concerts, from symphonies to Metallica, but I have to say that I have never seen a show where every last detail was so well thought out and planned – from the chandeliers to the pretty little lights that looked like a star filled sky.
Mack the Knife. It has been described so many times – Clay’s back to the audience in silhouette – perfection. When he turned around, started to sing, and the lights flooded the stage, the audience, hell, it felt like the entire auditorium (and maybe half of downtown Raleigh), the impact was absolutely mind boggling. Although we later learned that maybe the song wasn’t perfection, it sure felt like it was. The arrangement, the lighting, the vocals, the stage presence – it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Clay literally took my breath away with the first song and I don’t think I got it back until after I left the auditorium.
Misty. I have always loved this song, always. But it became a song that I strongly associated with Clay after he came into a thread on the Official Fan Club site and wrote that a particular post had made him “Misty”. Clay singing this song, and to perfection, made me just a tad bit Misty myself. I still have “Walk my way, and a thousand violins begin to play” looping through my brain – but the voice singing these lyrics is now Clay’s voice – magic.
Crying. My oh my oh my. I am so hopeful that if there is going to be a single from Tried and True that it will be Crying. I feel it has huge cross over potential and the vocal talent of both Clay Aiken & Linda Eder will leave even the most casual of fan (or non fan) speechless. The marriage of two of the best voices in the business today, the arrangement, the harmonies, from the first note to the very last, was (crap, I’m running out of adjectives here) perfection.
And speaking of vocal talent, I’m going to go a little off topic here for a moment. Clay said a couple of years ago that he does not consider himself a musician, and maybe that was true two years ago, but it is most certainly not true now. Clay Aiken used that magnificent voice of his on Friday night like a fine tuned instrument. The arrangements, orchestration, instrumentation and the vocal presentation complimented each other like nothing I have ever heard. A lesser musician very easily would have been overpowered – but not Clay, he soared through every note, every key change, and every tempo change – with ease and power. So Clay honey, if you ever read this, please do not sell yourself short again – you truly are a first class musician and you proved it over and over and over again on Friday night.
(Back on topic here). In My Life. Honestly, what can you say? This part of the concert was pure Clay. Thanking those who were there for him, helped him through some rough times as he was growing up. Giving a shout out to people who make a difference every day in the life of a child – teachers. It could have been TOO sentimental, but it was just classic Clay. It was presented with humor, heart and complete sincerity. This has always been one of my Top 10 Beatles songs, and Clay sang it with an emotional impact that, well, took my breath away and made me tear up.
Ruben Studdard was also in fine voice on Friday night. How fun to see the two of them on stage together again. These two men MADE American Idol what it is today and the chemistry is still there after all these years. There is true friendship there, true respect for each other. The Medley with Clay, Ruben & Quiana Parler was FANTASTIC!! So funny and yet it was believable – wonderful arrangements, great vocals and great interaction between the three of them.
There are just too many high points to list! Build Me Up Buttercup – I was grinning like a damn fool through the entire song. Clay kicked BUTT and, although he “thanked” Ben for making him sing higher than he’d ever sung before, it was completely effortless (and I hope his back’s feeling better real soon).
Suspicious Minds was also another show stopping song and it was like coming home seeing Clay & Quiana on stage together again. Impossible, There’s a Kind of Hush, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, What Kind of Fool Am I, Who’s Sorry Now – all of them rich, lush, beautiful, all of them showcasing Clay’s amazing voice.
This leads us to Unchained Melody. I am finding it impossible to describe Unchained Melody – I think I need to hear it again and again and again (if you get my drift) but here’s what I THINK I remember. It started out lower than he has typically performed the song, it also seemed like it started out slower – more true to the version made popular by the Righteous Brothers and Clay was fantastic. Nope, I can’t do it, I cannot explain it – I’ve read it likened to a 747 taking off or thunder that started in Clay’s toes and traveled through his body. What I remember is that the word “I” (right before he would normally hit the falsetto note) was the starting off point, it was used as the catalyst, and the word itself was held and the note was built upon, until it crescendoed into NEED and at that point all hell broke loose on stage – the lights didn’t just move, they BLASTED onto him and bathed him in the spotlight and the rest of the song was pure, unadulterated vocal brilliance (I STILL wish they had to redo that song, I REALLY need to hear it again!!). Let me give you a feel of the impact. There was an usher in my section, she was sitting on a chair in the pit area. She sat through the entire concert doing her job sitting in the pit. At the end of Unchained Melody this woman leapt to her feet, screaming, cheering and applauding – she was completely caught up in the moment, it was real, it was organic, it was sincere.
Seven years ago, on this little TV show called American Idol, Clay Aiken performed Mack the Knife. In her critique, Paula Abdul said “Clay you were so ultra cool, I’m scared of you boy. You did an amazing job – so hip, so cool”. All I can say is – Paula honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.