Received an early Christmas gift Saturday night. Two weeks to the day early to be exact.
What was it?

A Kris Allen concert.

Kris Allen, 2009 American Idol winner, performing at The Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa Saturday evening, Dec.11, 2010. (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)

Concerts are a unique experience for everyone. They either click with you or they don’t. And, face it, there is no degree of “click” cause they either do or they don’t.

First, you probably enjoy the artist or you wouldn’t have purchased a ticket in the first place.

Second, the experience is going to be different than you anticipated cause it’s not TV or the radio or a CD on your stereo. It’s Mr./Ms. X walking out on stage right there in front of you, minus all the glitz and illusions. No redos, no second takes.

And I had seen Kris Allen perform twice before last night’s finale act in the Fifth Annual Chris Mix at The Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa sponsored by radio station MIX 104.9. (See photos)

Saw him on the American Idol Summer Tour at the Oakland Areana after he had won Season 8 in that controversial victory over Adam Lambert; and again at Summerfest in Golden Gate Park last summer where he performed as second fiddle to Lifehouse.

It’s not that he wasn’t good at either venue, it was just a different setting, different crowd, different sound system.

No second fiddle Saturday night. Kris “clicked.”

The whole performance – all 10 songs he did with a keyboard player and a guitar player – just worked. From the opening “Alright With Me” to the closing “Christmas Song” Kris nailed it.

One thing about a concert, it’s not really all that hard to tell when a performer is “into” it and when they aren’t. Hard to describe, but anyone in the audience can tell.

Of course, no one’s gonna be “into” every concert, but unfortunately, the one you are watching is the one you’ll always remember. It’s the flipside of “clicking.”

Hate to admit it, but I saw Cher once – huge negative; ditto for Huey Lewis & The News.
But not Kris Allen. Not last night.

The vocals were amazing. In addition to his finale, he tossed in one other holiday song – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – and man was he on that one.

If his music “clicked” then so did his personality. He said just enough, he interacted with his band (introduced all of them) and the fans (sang Happy Birthday to and called 70-year old Fanny on stage for a few hugs) just enough. At one point, realizing the sound wasn’t just right, he even politely, humorously asked the sound techie to adjust something. You might not have gotten that connect from Idol, but it was there on Saturday night in a big way. He even did a faux striptease at one point removing his “Mr. Rogers” sweater to the vibes of “Gangsta Paradise.”

Yes, he did The Truth and he did Live Like Your Dyin’ and he did Red Guitar (superb vocals). But he tossed in an old Tears For Fears song – Everybody Wants To Rule The World – and the rendition was magnificent.

Told you beforehand that the $15 or $20 you would spend on a ticket last night would be the best bargain you would have this holiday season and the 250-300 in attendance would wholeheartedly agree.

Kudos to MIX and the three other acts comprising this Chris MIX. More on them later.

But for now, simply, thanks, Kris, I’ll remember that one.