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July 26, 2007
'Idol'-mania at Arco

bp american idol group.JPG
Sacramento Bee/Bryan Patrick

Did you make it to Wednesday night’s “American Idol Tour” at Arco Arena?

My ears are still ringing!

It ended up being a three-hour concert (with a slight intermission) featuring the Top 10 contestants from Season 6 giving it everything they had – and then some.

It was sort of déjà vu to see them together again after a two-month hiatus from the show’s finale in May. But one thing is certain: all that rehearsal time paid off! They covered every genre of music I could possibly think of: rock, pop, country. There was Maroon 5, Motown, the Beatles and the Black Eyed Peas. More than 10,000 rabid fans packed the arena, waving signs and flashing cell phones.

Up first was my personal favorite, beat-boxer Blake Lewis, who had everyone rocking to “Let’s Get It Started.” He was joined by winner Jordin Sparks, Chris Sligh and Phil Stacey.

That said, I guess the easiest thing to do for those of you who didn’t go – and for those who want to relive the magical, musical night – to offer some of my other highlights:

* Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones in white satin, beaded gowns doing a Supremes medley and a little “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Chris Richardson joined them at the end.

* Melinda cranking out Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” And then, the moment - or should I say, the man all the tweeners were waiting for – Sanjaya Malakar, curls flowing, voice in perfect Sanjaya pitch, pulling the bottom part of Melinda’s gown off to reveal a sexy cocktail ensemble.

* As some of you might remember, I thought the Bon Jovi competition week was one of the season’s best. So, Phil’s “Blaze of Glory,” Blake’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and the entire group's “Livin’ on a Prayer” received what I thought were deserving standing ovations.

* LaKisha, propped up on a sofa, belting out “Lady Marmalade,” with Gina Glocksen and Haley Scarnato, and all sporting funky feathered headdresses.

* Jordin and Chris R. doing a Rascal Flats duet, complete with guitars. (Speaking of instruments, as all “Idol” fans know, the contestants weren't allowed to play them during the competition, but there was no shortage of guitars, drums and electric pianos Wednesday night.)

* The five guys singing a crowd-pleasing – and crowd singalong – version of “Hey Jude” that saw the butane lighters of concerts past replaced by flickering cell phones during the “Na Na Na Na Na Na Na - Heeeey Jude” chorus.

* Phil, who still is a proud member of the U.S. Navy, singing “America the Beautiful” in his dress whites, with several of the females serving as backup singers. Not a dry eye in the house.

* Chris S. and Gina rocking to Fall Out Boy’s “Thanks for the Memories.”

* Melinda singing “Natural Woman,” and LaKisha - bagging judge Randy Jackson’s admonition during the compeitition about not singing Whitney Houston songs – bringing EVERYONE to their feet with “I Will Always Love You.” Even Dolly P. would have been proud. You go, girl!

And alas...

* My least-favorite moment? Sorry folks, but as much as I love her, Jordin’s signature song, “This Is My Now,” is STILL as sappy as it was the night she won. I’ll take my licks here at 21Q, thank you.

Before the concert, I spoke with five of the “Idols,” and didn’t detect any letdown in their enthusiasm. Chris R., Phil, Melinda, Haley and Gina (who still has her beloved tongue ring) agreed the tour – though tiring at times – is what they’ve all worked for.

“I was so glad to hook up with the other finalists, who are like family to me,” Chris says. “And the best part is, we get a chance to sing songs that represent us as artists.”

He’s already writing some songs for Blake, Phil and Jordin, and he let me in on the fact that the guys have been traveling on this tour in a “boys’ bus” (the genders travel separately, except for flights), where there are mini “studio set-ups” with all manner of equipment.

Phil says he misses his wife and two daughters, but “I’m having the time of my life.”

Meanwhile, Haley says her wedding plans remain on hold until after the tour, which doesn’t wrap until Sept. 23.

Gina was most excited because she can “finally be who I want to be. I can dress like myself.”

And last but not least, Melinda was as genuine and as full of praise for her “Idol” compardres as she was during the competition.

“They still are my babies!” she says. And then, she let me in on a little secret. Remember those wigs she wore during the season? How she named them? Well, Wednesday night, after getting hair and makeup done, she says she was going to perform the Sacramento show in her trademark “Whitney” wig.

I predict there will be big things for most of these finalists - Blake, especially. Dude is a totally different performer when he actually has instruments.

As for me, I’m counting the months – and days – until January and Season 7 of "American Idol" begins!

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