James Durbin sings on Wednesday night during the American Idol Summer Tour in San Jose’s HP Pavilion.

SAN JOSE — First of all, you have to cut the American Idol kids some slack – yes, they are performing a series of about 45 concerts this summer before heading off to Manila for another half-dozen shows; no, they aren’t professional entertainers.

Yes, I realize they are getting paid to do this, but, face it, a year ago at this time Naima was picking up litter at a concert venue herself and Scotty was working in a store.

So, come on, as part of a crowd of about 12,000 on Wednesday night here at the Shark Tank (i.e. HP Pavilion) I entered with an open mind and the eyes and ears of a the common man, not an experienced musician or anything close. I can barely whistle.

Really good concerts I have seen stay with me …. well, forever. Top 3 I have seen: 1) Simon & Garfunkel; 2) Rolling Stones; 3) Rod Stewart.

OK ones (Tears For Fears; Huey Lewis & The News; Michael Buble) linger in the back of my mind.

And the dogs (Cher; Cher; Cher) I have erased from my memory bank.

And, of course, there were the ones that totally shocked me that I really enjoyed after going in without any expectations (The Nylons; Hedley; George Winston; Lifehouse).

Pretty eclectic tastes I have, don’t you think?

But back to the AI Summer Tour. This was my third one (Seasons 8, 9 and 10) so I suppose I am somewhat of a vet.

Wednesday was …. well, different. They changed it up this year by not having them perform in a countdown of sorts from 10 to 1. But they did group numbers intertwined with solo performances. For lack of a better way to do it, I’ll simply plop down some labels on things and have at it…

Where’s Waldo? Well where’s Scotty? – The show started at 7:15 p.m., Soctty McCreery, this year’s winner, made his entrance at 9:15 p.m. I could have read by entire $25 program twice by then – forward and backward.

Get your souvenirs, here! – OR – Ladies and gentlemen open your wallets! I always love to price items at the souvenir stand. In our economy-torched society here goes: T-shirts (Scotty, Lauren, group) $35 each; pewter keychain ($10); 10th anniversary water bottle ($20); charm bracelet ($20); cinch bag ($20); rubber bracelet ($10); light stick ($5); wall poster ($10). Fortunately, the Top 11 get a cut of this take which is probably substantial since the line prior to the start of the show was about 50 deep spread out over five cashiers.

7 big screens – That’s a simplistic way to give kudos to the unsung heroes of this event – the producers. I don’t know who sets up these concerts but they do a masterful job of selling the products, selling the kids, selling the music, selling Idol, past and present. The backdrop consisted of seven huge screens and it’s a veritable continuous light-show. The production is smooth and there were no noticeable gaps.

They stole the show – As always, some of the Idols sound much, much better in person than they did on the TV version. This time around give that nod to Scotty, Casey Abrams, Paul McDonald, Stefano Longone and Thia Megia.

She went through the motions award – As good as she was on the show, No. 3 finisher Haley Reinhart, was a yawner. House of the Rising Sun, Benny and the Jets … maybe she has performed them one too many times but there just wasn’t a heckuva lot of life in those two numbers.

He coulda, shoulda been better award – James Durbin played to the crowd, many of which had come not all that far from his hometown of Santa Cruz. Playing to a crowd he can do. But the entire “metal” thing he does escapes me. I would have enjoyed just watching him sit on a stool and do something soulful for me.

The guy could play the washboard and I’d love him award – Casey is simply outrageously talented. He interpreted “Smooth” with his stand-up bass and it was magic. If this guy were a soccer player he’d be Messi.

Now I get it award – Pia Toscano was voted off as the No. 9 contestant this season and everyone just about went into shock. The Twitter lines rattled, the world as we knew it was about to be altered. Poor, beautiful, sweet-singing Pia. Right now she moves about as well as she connects with an audience – nada. Now I understand why she left the scene when she did. But Interscope has its tentacles around her voice box and they may make her into a money-making machine for a little while. Face it, they have a better track record than Pia ever will.

I’m sorry for you award – Jacob Lusk and Naima Adedapo win this one. Totally out of place, especially Lusk. Oh, he has a booming voice, but it wasn’t working Wednesday night with his alleged dancing. He just didn’t fit. Naima, bless her dancing feet, got way more viewing time than was necessary. I didn’t put a clock on it, but I bet she was on stage about as long as Scotty was.

And the I’m really sorry for you award – Lauren Alaina gets this one without question. Her bum ankle (another fall, this time backstage) left her with a bejeweled boot on during the entire show. It made every number she appeared in painfully (literally and figuratively) awkward. And I know there is no way around it, but for her to have a seat and watch with the rest of us might have been the best answer.

But give her this – prior to the show she limped up to the gate and signed many, many autographs along with Durbin. Kudos for that one to Lauren and James.

And the real reason she was there – her voice. Good, but nothing special.

As for the venue … the Shark Tank seats about 16,000 for concerts, there were 12,000 there on Wednesday … sound system was just OK … it’s an easy-access venue with ample $20 parking nearby … and maybe best is that they serve wine…

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