The "American Idols Live!" tour has packed up and left town. But here are a few final thoughts on the sold-out Raleigh show at the RBC Center on Wednesday night.
First, check out my colleague David Menconi's fine review, if you haven't already. He is dead-on in noting that Garner's Scotty McCreery, left, seems right at home onstage and that Haley Reinhart already seems like a seasoned performer. And yes, an appearance by Scotty a little earlier in the show would have been preferable.
But I tended to view the show from a slightly different lens than David -- was it an enjoyable, family-friendly night out for my wife and I and our 10-year-old daughter, a huge "Idol" fan who is not quite ready for a Katy Perry or Lady Gaga show? On that measure, just looking at my kid's face, it was a big success.
"Idols Live!" is never going to match, say, a Prince or Springsteen show. No one expects it to. But for what it is — well-produced, Disney-fied singing of popular songs, with something for everyone — it works.
--Scotty's versions of Montgomery Gentry's "Gone" and Thompson Square's "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?" Both were songs he did on the show, and they were even better live.
--Haley's two-fer of The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" and Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets." Haley, right, is one of the few on the tour who really tried to put her own stamp on songs.
--Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone's nice pairing on Rihanna's "California King Bed."
--James Durbin's version of Muse's "Uprising," which seemed to rev up the crowd. Pity poor Jacob Lusk, who had to follow that. Probably the most awkward transition of the night.
Overplayed songs we really didn't need more covers of: Katy Perry's "Firework" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
Overplayed songs whose covers we actually enjoyed during the show: Cee Lo Green's "Song Otherwise Known as Forget You" and Bruno Mars' "Grenade." So sue us — they were fun.
Most acquired taste: Casey Abrams. You either like his goofy-guy-with-a-bass act or you don't. A lot of people — including my wife and daughter — do.
Best dancing: Naima Adedapo, left, whose African dancing in the middle of Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor" worked way better than you would think.
Worst dancing: Paul McDonald, if you can even call what he does dancing. My daughter leaned over to whisper to me that she liked Paul better in person than on TV, but "he'll never be able to dance."
Worst product hawking: Those incessant Ford videos starring the "Idol" finalists. I swear, I feared the "Idols" were going to follow me home and ask me to text — again and again and again — about which video was my favorite.
Most-endearing product hawking: Scotty's love of Bojangles', which was a running joke throughout the day. See Pia and Scotty talking about Bojangles' in our exclusive video. After the show Wednesday night, Haley told us she still hadn't tried Bojangles' yet, though James said the boys planned to have some on their tour bus. If Scotty doesn't get an endorsement deal out of this — or at least a lifetime supply of Cajun filet biscuits — someone's not paying attention.
Also, be sure and check out:
Our story on Scotty's whirlwind trip home: www.newsobserver.com/2011/07/28/1374073/a-whirlwind-tour-of-home.html
Our photo galleries of the concert and of Scotty, Haley and Lauren meeting the press and fans: www.newsobserver.com/galleries/entertainment/