Saturday, March 13, 2010

Clay Aiken PBS Concert Magical

BACK IN TOWN -- Clay Aiken returned to his hometown of Raleigh, NC, for the concert taping of a PBS Special Friday night. Graphic by Fountaindawg, photos by Jim R. Bounds/AP.

Voice, Wit, Heart Shine in Concert

Clay Wows Fans at PBS Taping

Wow, Wow, Wow! That's all I could say or think at first; then I thought of a much better descriptor. Exquisite. It was simply exquisite. From the first note of the first song to the last note of the last redo, Clay was in amazing voice.

His voice was rich and full and smooth and supple. The low notes were in.cred.ible. From the voice to the band to the lighting to the sound to the music, the show was rich and lush and classy. What an honor it was to be there! -- Brightstar

Clay Aiken, consummate entertainer with an incredible set of pipes, quick wit, and beautiful heart, impressed beyond belief faithful and new fans who descended on Raleigh from throughout North America by plane, bus, train, and car for Friday's concert/PBS taping.

For the thousands of supporters who have followed Clay since his 2003 American Idol run, this was the pinnacle performance, as shown in the selected reports below. For the countless fans (like me) unable to attend this weekend's event in Raleigh, recap after recap insures that the wait before the show's summer telecast will be interminable.

It's impossible to print all the adjectives and fan reactions, but -- with special thnx to Brightstar, claysgalsal, bottlecap, jclay, 2old4Clay, ebeth, Goood Baby Brush -- below is an overview.

See the newest Carolina entry -- Clay Aiken PBS Magic Continues -- for a second installment of concert reflections.

View of Memorial Auditorium stage - Photo by Jim R. Bounds/AP

CLAYSGALSAL, JCLAY, et al: As we entered the auditorium, we were instantly met by a very jazzy, bluesy feel created by the foggy appearance and taped music playing on the sound system.

The lighting, designed to showcase each number with different hues, curtains, and backdrops, was mainly red except for a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling and emanating a thousand sparkling colors.

The show started around 8:15. First, a prep guy came on stage, instructing the audience to clap and cheer as loud as we could. We were free to give standing O's and hoot all we wanted to. His work was done; we didn't see him again until Clay was finished.

As the curtain rose, we were hit with the most incredible, loud band sound. The lighting was mind-blowing and mesmerizing, sweeping spotlights of red and blue and other colors at different times.

There were 16 musicians -- strings (violins, violas, cellos), brass, woodwinds, guitars, stand-up bass, piano, drums, another percussionist (bongos, conga, maracas, tambourine, vibes), and a keyboardist. These guys turned out a wall of sound that would have destroyed a lesser vocalist, but Clay's instrument really stood out.

Eyes quickly focused on the figure standing in the middle of the stage, his back to the audience in shadow. He stayed that way for a few seconds, then turned around, stood there looking sexy as everything, slowly walked to the mic, and started singing "Mack the Knife."

I was surprised, shocked, amazed, hands over my mouth, and on the verge of tears all at the same time. I have been to every tour/concert Clay has done, but this one blew me away like none other. It was so different, yet so Clay Aiken.

His suit really fit the era of the songs he sang; it was black and had a shimmery look to it under the lights. He wore a white shirt and striped tie. It was so great to hear him sing the complete version of songs.

With just about every new song the stage design changed in some way to set the mood, either the lighting or addition/dropping of sheer curtains in the back. At the beginning of MTK, six small chandeliers were lowered from the ceiling.

Audience blown away. (Jim R. Bounds/AP)

CONCERT SET LIST (some of which will be on Clay's upcoming "Tried and True" album):

Mack The Knife
You're Just To Good to Be True
It's Imposssible
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Eso Beso (upbeat samba)
Who's Sorry Now
I'll Take Romance
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (intro of Ruben)

• Baby Got Back sung by Clay
• Poker Face (Lady Gaga) sung by Ruben
• Crazy In Love (Beyonce) by Quiana
• Maneater (Hall and Oates) by Clay
• Tik Tok (Kei$ha) -- Ruben
• Straight Up -- Quiana (Clay and Ruben singing "oh oh oh's")
• She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy -- Clay (crooner fashion)
• Play That Funky Music -- Ruben
• Can't Touch This -- all three

What Kind of Fool Am I?
Crying (duet with Linda Eder)
Suspicious Minds
Build Me Up Buttercup
In My Life
It's Only Make Believe
There's A Kind of Hush
Unchained Melody

Encore #1: Moon River

Encore#2: Re-do of Mack the Knife, Who's Sorry Now, Misty, Suspicious Minds

Clay in his element. (Jim R. Bounds/AP)

EBETH: Every song was absolutely incredible tonight. The arrangements were different from the originals, and did Clay ever sing his face off! I have been following him since the beginning, and I honestly did not know he could sing as well as he sang tonight -- and I've always thought he was phenomenal!

When Linda Eder and Clay were singing "Crying," I looked over at my 30-year-old daughter and both of us had tears rolling down our faces. It was just that beautiful!

BRIGHTSTAR: I thought Clay was confident and professional, totally at home and in charge on that stage. He was a STAR, and the whole concert was quite impressive. I kept imagining the thoughts of those in attendance who may not have heard him lately and especially those who will watch the PBS Special.

They will surely think "Wow, where has he been that I've missed him before?" or "Where have I been?" Or perhaps "Oh, wow, he was great on Idol and he's matured into a truly amazing performer." If the TV show comes across even half as well as it did in the theater, viewers will be blown away. No question.

He clearly has so much fun with Ruben, and I know the summer concerts will be fun and fabulous. Quiana sounded wonderful and seemed to be having so much fun as well.

I so enjoyed BMUBC--it was wonderfully sung and so much fun. UM was fabulous, Misty was tear-inducing. Truly, every song was wonderful. And, of course, Clay's wit and humor, as well as his beautiful heart, shone through.

His tribute to his teachers, especially his sixth grade teacher, who it seems helped a "square peg" survive during a really tough year, was incredibly, powerfully touching.

If he had not sung a note all night, just being there to hear that heartfelt tribute would have been enough. His caring, his sensitivity, his ability to honor and celebrate the goodness in people and in life is just awe-inspiring.

Singer pays tribute to teachers. - Photo by Jim R. Bounds/AP

GOOOD BABY BRUSH: It wasn't hard to picture the skinny, goofy, artistic little boy who suddenly felt lost and alone at a new school with no one to hang out with. One teacher took pity on him, he said. She started letting him eat his lunch in her classroom every day. He was sure she never realized how much that act of kindness meant to him and how it changed his life.

She was here tonight. and he asked her to stand up and be recognized for what she meant to him. He went on to say how often teachers had touched his life and how important the work they do is. He said he knew a lot of his former teachers were in the audience and asked anyone who'd ever taught him to please stand.

A dozen or so people stood. "Never forget how important you are," he told them. "This song is for you." Lights dim, he sang softly and purely, his voice gentle:

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more.

I sat with tears in my eyes as he sang. When the song ended, there were several beats of silence as the audience tried to remember how to breathe. Then the applause erupted.

BRIGHTSTAR: In addition to being a simply beautiful show, it was also a feel-good show. He was doing something he loves, and doing it with friends clearly makes it more special to him, and that specialness then comes across to the audience.

It was a substantial show with lots of songs, yet, as always, it was over too soon. Immediately I wanted to hear it all again. I guess that's why so many of us travel to show after show when we can -- because as soon as it's finished we want more. His shows are always one of my best times.

Below is a clickable of Fountaindawg's opening graphic:

WOW, WOW, WOW -- the Decca Era is off with a memorable down beat! Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!



Anonymous said...

Hi Caro!
Great blo!!! LOVE, love, love the pics, graphics and of course all the info! Wow what a night it must have been.
I'm beyond thrilled things went so well for Clay last night.
I read through the red reports this afternoon and I could feel the excitement, love and pure joy!
I cannot wait to see this special on tv! Actually, I can't wait to get the dvd knowing there will be more on that to see and hear!
God I miss hearing him SING live!!!
Have a great weekend,
Lisa1068 :)

Anonymous said...

Was just thinking how much Joan (Ashes) would have enjoyed all this excitement and thrilled at the sounds and songs. I pray she had a front row seat!! Thanks for the great recap. Bonnie

Stephanie said...

This was the first recap I've really read- I was too nervous to read anything else! :D I'm so happy that everything went well, and now I really can't wait to see this on tv!!! Thanks for a great blog. :)

MissSally said...

Thank you, Caro, for this beautiful recap of the recaps. Your love for Clay shines through your masterful words.

I've been reading about the performance all day with tears streaming down my face. Clay is singing the music he was born to sing and this fills my heart with joy.

claysweetea said...





Thanks Caro, beautiful blog. All fans have followed this event and to read the recaps and knowledge that the show was spectacular and Clay made it better than never, I'm excited too.
I'm anxious to hear his new album and see the television special.

Anonymous said...

I was unable to go,but after reading one recap after another I feel like I was there! Excitement abounds everywhere you turn and that makes me very happy! I love the set list and I can't wait for the PBS special to air.. Thanks Carol for this wonderful place..

Anonymous said...

Great blog, always enjoy and happy for Clay things went well!!! Have a good rest of the wk. end. Donna

Anonymous said...

Clay Aiken never disapoints and is always full of surprises. He is so talented and commands the stage because he is a star.

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro, All I can say is WOW WOW and more WOW. I may have said this before, but you really out did yourself this time. This blog is by far the best. I will read this over and over again. Clay's love for classic music and his fans shine thru his amazing talents. I so loved reading all the stories and recaps from the concert. Reading your blog was the next best thing to being there. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful talent with us.
Bless you

Sandy said...

Thanks Caro for bringing all the recaps together! I can't seem to get enough of reading recap after recap from last night! The TV perfomance can't come soon enough!
The story about the teachers brought tears to my eyes! Clay is such a kindhearted "old soul". He has no idea just how much he has made a difference in so many lives!


T said...

Wow! Thanks so much Caro for the recap of last night's event. My friend went to see it and she said it was awesome. I wish that I was there to witness this very special moment. I can't wait for the PBS Special and the CD coming. So happy for Clay.

Appreciate you keeping me posted with all the highlights. It's so exciting and seeing the beautiful photos and graphics.

I remember Joan at this time and thought of how she would have been so excited. I'm sure she's smiling.

Again, many thanks for the great blog and cheers to you Caro.

Have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,
greetings from Jakarta, Indonesia. I've been following your blog. It's my news source of what Clay does everywhere. So thrilled with all news on PBS special. I really wished I was there (which is impossible... US.... so faaaaarrr away
Just hoping there will be dvd for this show which I will get whatever it takes (no PBS in my country though :(...).
Once again thanks for all the updates...

luckiest1 said...

Wonderful blog!

ImGranny said...

What a great blog! I wasn't able to attend the concert, so I am grateful for all the wonderful recaps we have gotten. IMO Clay Aiken is one of a kind - a real treasure and a wonderful performer. I can't wait till the performance is shown on PBS.

Anonymous said...

I've got chills just reading about it, and tears in my eyes for what I missed. If I could do it over, I would try to be there. Lois

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great blog! Clay Aiken, I must say is LIFE itself! Everything he does comes from the heart, and it shows. I admire this man so much! I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS SPECIAL! CAN'T WAIT FOR THE CD DROP AS WELL! YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY, KIDDO! BLESS YOUR HEART!
Thank you again for a wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

I am totally blown away with all these wonderful comments and can't wait for the cd to come out and the PBS special. I did see where they are doing a few concerts, none so far in my area, MA, but I am so sad, as I lostmy best frend and daughter, Jennifer, 44 to cancer in November and she was my Clay concert mate. We both love him and his music soothes my soul. I play him every day, still, and al lnight. Lovehim. Sure wish I could meet him and tellhim that. His "I will carry you" I used to dedicate to my daughter when she was going through so much with her cancer. Thanks for all the news. Donna wiswall, Attleboro, MA

MAE said...

Thanks for this beautiful recap! Loved hearing all the detailed information! I am so excited for Clay that this concert was such an extraordinary one! I love him and can't wait for PBS special and CD! I'm so glad God blessed him and us with such a wonderful gift! I believe his future is brighter than anything he's ever known before!