Monday, March 15, 2010

Clay Aiken PBS Magic Continues

Clay Aiken's Back in Town - Montage by LovesClaysVoice

Concert Recaps, Take 2

Clay Aiken Wows Fans at Taping

Clay Aiken opened the March 12 special performance in Raleigh with "Mack the Knife." The concert, which will air on PBS this summer, also included songs from the singer's upcoming "Tried and True" CD. LCV's montage features Clay's Mack the Knife rendition from the American Idol 2 season.

Clay Aiken's one-time only concert at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh included a preview of his upcoming Decca album, Tried & True, plus a host of other memorable classics.

Without the visual clack that fans normally share following a Clay Aiken concert, the performance and and excitement has been relived through word pictures, recaps and reflections, by those present. This entry is a continuation of the March 13 post: Take 2!

PINK ARMCHAIR: I was so thrilled with the way the taping went. Clay, first of all, really was better than I've ever seen him; and, vocally, he knocked it out of the park over and over again. Unbelievable.

I have to say (and was fortunate to get to say to a couple of people associated with the production) that I had sat in a lot of tapings but had never seen something with that many elements go so smoothly, with so few retakes and almost no problems (the poor guy who broke his leg notwithstanding -- hope he's doing okay).

I have a huge amount of respect for whoever directed it -- it was choreographed and orchestrated to the NTH degree -- a really first class production. It's very difficult to film something as if it were going out live, and they did it in spades. My hat is off to them.

In fact, my main emotion watching the performance was that it was like seeing a rare and priceless jewel, after years stuck in a drawer, finally placed in its proper setting. It was, in a word, dazzling, both visually and aurally. I think I'm always going to remember it that way.

CABLEGIRL: One tidbit that I will share is about who I was seated next to. When Clay asked all of his teachers to stand we ended up seated next to most of them.
As the gentleman next to me started to sit down, I said, "Oh, you were one of his teachers?" and he said, "No, I was his high school principal and he hated me."

I waited until the end of the show to talk to him again. He said that Clay was quite a hand full his senior year and that they had more than a few run-ins, all relayed with a big smile on his face.

He told me that he had loved the show, thought Clay was fantastic, and then shared something with me that I thought was so cool. At the end of the second run of "Spamalot," Clay flew him, his wife, and a few of the other teachers and their families to New York for three days, all expenses paid.

Smiling, he added, "He may have been a handful, but I think we're all even now."

All I can say is what an amazing guy we have all chosen to support and follow!

Clay performs on Memorial Auditorium stage. (Jim R. Bounds/AP)

CINDILU2: During the show, Clay mentioned that "Menopause," the musical, would be the next event in the Raleigh venue, then quipped, "Today Clay Aiken, tomorrow menopause!"

Truly the pinnacle of my seven years as a Clay Aiken fan. He went from star to supernova right before my eyes, and I will forever be grateful that I was there to witness it.

MUMM FUMS: I don't know if anyone mentioned the fog machine for Moon River? It really produced some fog; and from where I was sitting, the first couple of rows got to experience that "Aiken Fog" quite literally!

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 Impossible
When I Said I Needed You
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
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

MOONHEAD: "Crying!" OOOMMMMMGGGG!!! Seriously, this was extraordinary. Clay and Linda Eder together singing "Crying.: He hit a couple of notes in this song that were amazing. It was the song that afterwards would not get out of my mind. I woke up several times during the night with it replaying in my head.

"Buttercup" blew me away. The audience response to it was organic and enthusiastic. This was the performance that hit me emotionally. As I watched him up there singing his heart out -- happy and in such good voice, with the gorgeous lighting, the multiple cameras whirring around him -- I couldn’t help but think back to his AI performance of the same song.

I felt such a sense of fulfillment of Clay being where he belongs now, of peace with the past and excitement for the future. It was just perfect, and he sang his heart out.

"In My Life" was so tender, stripped down, quiet and reflective. Clay was just sweet during this song paying homage to his teachers. It was a special moment.

Clay's own version of "Unchained Melody." Wow, he owns this song!!! And he really changed up the last third of it. His own version, indeed! What he did with this was quite spectacular.

The show was a wonderful blend of genres, tempo, and style -- some reflective, some fun, some dramatic and powerful. It was well put together and beautifully executed.

When Clay finished UM and had to stand there and accept our applause. He didn’t try to stop us, he didn’t race off stage, he didn’t have the curtain brought down. He stood there and took in the applause he so deservedly earned.

And lastly, I felt such a sense of support for Clay last night from those that surround him -- the label and his management. The whole production was so beautiful, and it was clear to me that Team Clay knows what they have and are going to do what it takes to show everyone the talent that he is.

I will be forever grateful that I was able to be there. It was a night to remember.

Clay blows away audience. Photo by Jim R. Bounds/AP

GOLDARNGIRL: We saw Simon Renshaw arrive at the Raleigh airport when we did on Friday. I was pretty impressed that he was there and was hands on. Simon spent a lot of his time in the wings to Clay's right, which gave us a full view of him.

I saw him giving Clay "thumbs up" at times, and he was there when Clay came off stage and probably was part of the decision process for the songs that were being retaken.

At the end when the applause was deafening and Clay was standing there soaking it all in, I leaned over to FromClaygary and said that it was great he was allowing people to appreciate him and accepting the applause, which he doesn't normally do.

While he was standing there soaking in the applause and love, I looked over to the wings and spotted Simon continuously bowing from the waist, telling Clay BOW. I looked back to the stage as Clay was straightening up from a bow (after taking Simon's direction).

It was really great to see that Simon was right there guiding him and it made me wonder whether his hands were tied on some items before.

JMH123: Two of us were seated in the balcony, third row, right behind the soundboard. Various people tried to offer us closer seats, including some production people; but all were off to the far side of the orchestra or in the side mezzanine. Besides, I wanted to watch the process of filming.
From our seats we could see all the cameras, as well as two laptop computer/television monitors showing two of the camera views, and also the sound equipment and, of course, the people working in the booth.

There must have been another location somewhere, outside or backstage, where the actual directing was taking place and where there were other TV monitors.

The negative side is that we couldn't really see Clay's face, because of the lighting and the distance, but we got some good closeup views now and then in the monitors.

There was a fair amount of shots showing the whole band at once, as well as closeups on various instrumentalists, all the soloists, and Clay at various distances. Lot of variety. And, as I said, we could just see two monitors.

Oh and yeah, that Clay Aiken guy! When the curtain opened and he was standing there with his back to the audience, just that silhouette that is so classic and familiar, I felt such a rush I can't tell you. I just wanted to hug everybody for the rest of the night. The crowd was electric. Even the ushers and crew seemed to be into it.
Clay Aiken can flat out sing. "Mack the Knife" was like the AI2 performance times a million.

The band totally rocked, and the choice and chosen location of the instruments was fascinating to me. The sound was just incredible. The band was tight. It was a big band sound, but uniquely Clay also.

Everything was arranged as a unique, Clay Aiken version; and the band was a huge part of that. For me anyway. And Clay's voice just soared. It filled the room. I think I'd forgotten the way he can do that. Effortless, huge voice with those amazing pure tones.

Because it was Raleigh and Memorial Auditorium and because of the theme of the show, it was also for me, especially for the first three or four songs, Clayton Grissom fully grown and handsome, but yet still and totally that guy -- that Raleigh boy.

Clayton Grissom of Hometown Connection putting on a show for PBS, but mostly classier.

I was struck by how he really has come home, how he has remained "tried and true" throughout AI, becoming a "pop superstar," coming out, doing Broadway, being a dad, everything he's been through. He is still that geeky, skinny, picked-on guy; and now that guy is fulfilling a lifelong dream.

SUEREU: Anyone who loved Clay Aiken's vocal performance last night (and I don't see how anyone could not say he was short of brilliant) needs to give up on making him the next rock/pop God.

Almost to a person, what I heard was that was the voice they fell in love with and it had been too long since they've heard it.

The reason that we got that voice, that quality, those dynamics, that magic was because he stopped trying to be "2010 pop Clay" and became "vocalist extraordinaire Clay Aiken."

Oh, and I need to add that he is singing pop, but he's singing pop from an era where vocals ruled and shtick took a back seat. An era before pro tools, when it was imperative that the singer could actually sing and melodies were written with true vocals in mind.

HEART: Everything was wonderful from his voice to the staging to the lighting to his wonderful personality.

That's what touched me most. It was like seeing a good friend after a long absence. Not just his voice, but his mannerisms, his facial expressions, his jokes, the way he moves his hands, the way he smiles and makes fun of himself -- it was all there.

I felt like saying, "Thank God, he's still here; he's still the same." The voice may be better than ever, but my friend is still here. Nobody connects with his audience like Clay does. No audience connects with a performer like Clay's fans do.

HE'S BACK!!!!!

ELIZABETH: I only had one "friend of a friend" tidbit to share. Clay's manager Simon Renshaw said that he and Ruben would be touring for three weeks and Asheville will be the first show.

CRAVING CLAY: This was absolutely the best Clay concert I've ever experienced (and I've been to quite a few). He was confident. He owned that stage. The musicians were terrific. The set list, the song arrangements, the pacing of the show, the lighting were top notch.
And Clay's voice was delicious. It washed over me, satisfied, but left me wanting more. I'm desperate to hear these songs again. He's quite simply the best!

He was in his element and it showed. He was absolutely a star up there and, yet, still so sweet and humble. What a guy

CLAYM8: During one of the earliest slow songs, which he sang standing up, he was singing about love, but he opened his arms as though giving us a general hug.
At the very end of the show after the re-takes, Clay waited to hear that all was well and he said something like "It turns out I'm perfect"; and, of course. the audience roared.

Then he gave his signature two-finger salute to us, which he didn't do at the end of the official taping.

Special thnx to all the CA fans who have reflected on their Raleigh experiences in this blog and throughout Clay Cyberspace. Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!




Caro, Forgive me, but I must repeat here what I said in CANN. I have no more words to express what I feel.

It's so exciting to read the summaries of the event. The fans who attended did a wonderful job with your recaps. Really I've been feeling there. Is incredible. just makes me want more and more ... to see the TV special and hear the new CD. Thanks to all for sharing with us this wonderful experience, and to leave us to know that Clay, the only one, incomparable, wonderful artist. continues there, and this one in his better moment. I'm so happy.

fgs said...

The concert was magic! What a surprise to have Ruben, Quiana, and Linda Eder as guests. From the opening note to the ending note, Clay was "on his game". The band was perfect for him. The lighting, and even the fog on Moon River. Just beautiful.

LovesClaysVoice said...

Caro, I just got back very late last night and I am still on cloud nine! I can't even begin to desribe what an amazing concert it was. Clay gave it everything he had! He sounded better than I have EVER heard him! Everything about that night was just pure magic! I can't wait until everyone gets to see it on PBS! Clay is going to blow people away!

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

All I can say for your last two blogs.....BRAVO! BRAVO! You are amazing!

I just love reading all the comments from last Friday evening, and can not wait to hear where there are more concerts. The PBS Special can not come soon enough for me.

Hope you have a great week.


ImGranny said...

Another great blog! Thank you! This is really an exciting time for Clay Aiken - and for us! I can't wait to see the concert on PBS

Cindy said...

Truly the pinnacle of my seven years as a Clay Aiken fan. He went from star to supernova right before my eyes and I will forever grateful that I was there to witness it.

Just one note about the 'menopause' thing. The order was the other way around. He was talking about Menopause, The Musical being then next thing to happen in the venue. Today, Clay Aiken, tomorrow menopause.

SueReu said...

I still can't get over Friday night - it's almost surreal. I have always said there's nothing in this world like a Clay Aiken concert, but he surpassed my expectations. Glorious, superb, exciting, spectacular (I need to google a new list of adjectives).

Thanks for posting all of these thoughts in one spot. It still makes me grin when I read about Simon motioning for Clay to take a bow - kind of like a very proud dad instructing their favorite son to soak up all that love and all that appreciation.

and for those who were unable to attend, I repeat what I said on CANN today - You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!

Anonymous said...

Loved the blog and Clay sure is back! That night sounds like a awesome night! Happy so many got to share it! Hope Clay keeps singing! Donna in Wi.

tree ~ said...

Caro, thanks for capturing some of the best of the feedback from the show. I so wished I could have been there, but so very glad to read and see pics made available to us. I hope Clay comes somewhere, anywhere, near enough to me this summer so I can see the man and hear the voice live!

clayam said...

What a wonderful show Clay Aiken must have put on for PBS on the 12th.
I just have to wait and see it on my TV and I surely will buy the DVD.

MissSally said...

SUEREU: "Anyone who loved Clay Aiken's vocal performance last night (and I don't see how anyone could not say he was short of brilliant) needs to give up on making him the next rock/pop God."

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN,AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!