Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua
Where to begin with this posting about Tuesday night's "American Idol" concert? Should I start with how fabulous Mandisa looked - and sang - while her mom sat proudly, two rows in front of me? Or should I throw something in about Ace Young's obvious bicep blowout and beanie-tossing? Maybe I'll just say that Chris Daughtry rocked Sacramento - and then some.
Or perhaps I'll have to admit that, fashion-wise (and don't get mad McPheever fans), Katherine McPhee's long black gown for her set just didn't mesh with the rest of the fashion statements that the other nine performers made. The gown just seemed too "pageant-like" for the show, but maybe she's just not a jeans kind of gal.
Anyway. In an interview that ran in Scene earlier this week with Mandisa, she told me that the "Idol" performers could wear anything they wanted for their sets as well as for the finale, so here we see Mandisa in a beautiful charmeuse top and cropped pants; Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker in jeans and cute tops; the guys in mostly jeans and hip tops; Kellie Pickler in a black, studded leather jacket, black denim jeans with a red top and fab red shoes (plus hair extensions, I think, because she had cut her hair earlier this summer), Elliott Yamin with his trademark newsboy cap (he wore a Monarchs jersey for the finale), and Ace with his beanie.
Mandisa clearly was overwhelmed by the reception she received from the hometown crowd, and there's no question she - and all the "Idols" - have been blessed with some mighty, mighty pipes. Even as auditions continue around the country for Season Six, I can say, with some certainty, that it will be difficult to top this talented bunch. Their energy level is amazing. Paris' duet with Lisa - a cover of TLC's "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls" - was superb, as were the four guys (minus Taylor) with their country quartet.
Speaking of Taylor, well, as Mandisa had so aptly put it, he does, indeed, have vocal chords of steel. At one point, he emerged, I believe, from section 105 and descended the steps. His version of "Taking it to the Streets" was especially fun, and he got to play both guitar and harmonica.
After the show, Mandisa had a special backstage gathering all to herself. I got a hug and then left through one of the back entrances to Arco Arena. And get this - heading up the steps were three or four guys, chatting. I paid little attention to them, until, well, one of them caught my eye.
There was Taylor, dressed down in a T-shirt and shorts, just hanging out, waiting to board the bus, I assume. We did a meet and greet. He remembered talking with me over the phone back in May - right after he won the "American Idol" title - about turnip greens and growing up in the South.
He asked how I liked the show. Well, duh! And said how much he enjoyed performing in Sacramento. OK, the guy can sing, but for those of you who are devoted Soul Patrol members, I have to tell you, up close, he's also quite easy on the eyes. And a true gentleman. For that alone, good things will come to him.
I know I've gone groupie. Now, if I had just bought that Taylor Hicks button....