- Lee DeWyze performs on Wednesday night (Dec. 8, 2010) at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD).
It is, or at least has been, the self-proclaimed (and accurately so) “most popular show on television.”
And the No. 1 guy on the latest version of that show — Lee DeWyze — performed in little old Santa Rosa Wednesday night.
So, question No. 1 – how was he?
We’ll get back to that one.
First, let’s do a little rundown.
Some factoids, please:
– The venue – The Last Day Saloon. Decent locale. Intimate setting considering just six months ago about 25 million folks were watching DeWyze perform “Beautiful Day” after he won the title as the King of Season 9 of AI.
– Crowd? Oh, about 175-200. Mostly female. Mostly beyond the teenage years.
– Sound system was adequate (more on that later).
– Promotion for the event came through radio station MIX 104.9 (more on that later).
OK, that’s the skinny. Now, let’s go down a list of the “Good” and the “Not-So-Good” items taken away from this concert from a table in the back of the room.
– Mr. DeWyze projects his personality in this type of setting. He comes off as just a guy you could sit down with, have a conversation about just about anything and come away thinking he could be your friend.
– Mr. DeWyze “gets” it. “Oh, there’s a cougar down here who wants my (guitar) pick.” Yes, his consistuency is full of what he labeled as “cougars.”
– His voice. It’s different. You heard it on AI all last season. Raspy. Hard to pin a label on it exactly. A little Rod Stewart maybe. It was even more hard-edged Wednesday night. Difficult to say how he would sound with a full band behind him and not the stripped down guitar/keyboard version he presented.
— His music. Much of it was from his initial post-Idol album “Live It Up.” Odd to hear songs for the first time straight from the artist and not listening to the CD at home. So, we’d have to do that to pass judgement. But Brooklyn Bridge and Sweet Serendipity sounded like they could be keepers.
– His “mini-tour” as he labeled it, lasted nine songs, which was more than his usual 4-5. That was a huge plus.
Now the “Not-So-Good”:
– Overriding feeling, and maybe we’re wrong here, was that he was distancing himself from Idol. That’s something that will happen for him naturally, no need to push it no matter the reason. Embrace the love for the show, even if you are faking it Mr. DeWyze, we get it.
– Of the nine songs he did, only one – “Hallelujah” – came out of the Idol vault. Big mistake. Enjoyed hearing your new stuff, but grab on to what got you to The Last Day Saloon in the first place – “The Boxer”, “Fireflies” or “That’s Life” would have put Idol recognition on that raspy voice.
— Sound in the venue didn’t do you justice. No one’s fault, really, just didn’t work. Heard you at the Shoreline Amphtheatre (of course, it had a few more million bucks pumped into that system than The Last Day’s) but your voice was amazing in Mountain View.
– The presentation. You are so much better with that full band and drums behind you. This was almost like you were sitting in the back room at the paint store jamming amidst the outside white cans of semi-gloss. Your voice, your style, needs background.
– Back to that CD … where was it? Your management team dropped the ball here. They shoulda been selling those CDs and T-shirts and sweatshirts and other stocking stuffers. OMG, no excuses. I’m not a marketing whiz, but it isn’t deep space exploration here, that fan base would really be in your hip pocket if they had your CD wrapped and under the tree today.
“I got my Lee sweatshirt on-line during American Idol,” said the only female in the crowd with any sort of DeWyze apparel. “I wish they were selling his CD here.” And her friend piped in: “Sure, I would have bought 50 of them.”
— Speaking of promotion. Kudos to MIX for bringing you here, but they should have promoted it more, for your good and theirs. Maybe they don’t have the ad dollars, but the tickets were free, won via a contest at the station and a lot more promotion could have, should have, filled that venue Wednesday night. Both you and MIX did OK by it, but it could have been so much more.
– Speaking of management team. Nice of you to do the obligatory meet-and-greet, but your managers were herding participants away like you had to catch the 6:50 bus to Sebastopol. You weren’t in the least bit bothered by the chit-chat and interaction. I get all the “celeb” concerns posturing, but someone needs to exhibit a little more common sense. Go with the flow, embrace the love. I didn’t witness anything other than a little female giggling.
– Speaking of the crowd. There was one group of men in back having a conversation and yucking it up during the mini-concert that was so loud a couple of fans had to ask a waiter to ask them to keep it down. Rather inconsiderate of them. At the very least, if they weren’t interested in Mr. DeWyze they could have and should have taken their dealings out front.
All of which brings us to the bottom line? How was Mr. DeWyze? I’d honestly say the jury is still out. If…
– he grabs on to that Idol star of his;
– he has a sitdown with his management team and alters some of the approach;
– he quits worrying about having his own national tour and maybe latches on to being an opening act for another star band much like Danny Gokey and Kris Allen have done;
– he continues to be honest and doesn’t change from that paint salesman he once was…
Then Mr. DeWyze will do just fine…