Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Evening With David Cook and Ryan Star In Full Detail...

Last night, David Cook’s “Declaration Tour—2009” came to Shawnee State University in Portsmouth and it was quite the event.

There’s a lot to say, so I guess I’ll just start from the beginning…

Before the show, I hung out backstage for a little while to catch Ryan Star after his sound check. We met up and he gave me a hug like we were old friends (Of course, by the end of the night I felt like we were.). He was just as charming in person as he was on the phone. He went off to get ready and I went to stand in line to get to my seat.

Because of some increased security precautions (which were needed, by the way) and counterfeit ticket concerns, it took a little longer to get inside the theater. But eventually I made my way to my seat in the fourth row.

After just a few minutes, Ryan Star made his way onto the stage accompanied by a chorus of screams from the audience. He kicked off his set with “Brand New Day,” the theme song from “Lie to Me,” and then made his way through a few more of the songs that will be on his forthcoming album, “11:59.” I haven’t been able to get his new single, “Last Train Home,” out of my head all day. He also did some of his older songs, including “Psycho Suicidal Girls,” which he admitted ahead of time was not for the little ones. But for the adults in the theater, it was a really fun song.

In all honesty, there were a lot of people in the theater that had no idea who Ryan was, but by the second song, you could really feel people getting on board. There was a lot of head nodding and people saying, “Hey, he’s pretty good.” And he was…

There were, however, some young girls who were familiar enough with him to scream out how much they loved him. At one point, Ryan said, “You’re quite the lively bunch aren’t you?” Ryan said later he thought the Shawnee State crowd was the best yet.

By the end of his set, I think Ryan had won himself quite a few new fans…

Then, there was a half-hour intermission while they changed the sets. But as soon as the lights went down again, the crowd started screaming, and soon, David Cook took the stage (In case you’re wondering, his shirt says, “Katy Perry slept here.”). I have to tell you that my memory of his setlist has gone a little foggy, but I think his opening number was “Heroes.” He also ripped through “Declaration,” “Life On the Moon,” “Mr. Sensitive,” “Kiss On the Neck” (the album’s hidden track) and “Permanent,” which he dedicated to his dad, who was in the audience. He did some other songs that aren’t on the album, including two songs he did with the band, MWK (Two members of his current band were in MWK as well). And, of course, he did “Light On.” I told the person next to me that we needed to be ready because he always has the audience sing to him during the last chorus. And we were ready—as was the rest of the theater. It’s so cute to see David still smile at the sound of people singing his own words back to him.

And for the record, we were pretty good…

I had heard before the show that David was concerned he was coming down with the flu. And early in the show, after hitting one of his numerous glory notes, David admitted it to the audience by telling us, “I think I’m coming down with the flu. That last note almost did me in.” But that didn’t keep him from soldiering on. There were a few times his voice seemed to waver, but it came back to him and he gave a great performance.

David said good night and the band left the stage, but of course they came back for an encore with the one-two punch of “Bar-ba-sol” and “A Daily AntheM.” This time, David had his familiar white guitar with AC in black letters. David thanked everyone for coming and said how great it was that “this many people from a place I’ve never been before” would come out to see him.

Then we all filed out and I headed toward backstage to see if David was still planning to do his post-show meet and greet with VIP guests (of which I was fortunate enough to be one).

Now, a lot of people in his situation would have just said they didn’t feel like it and sent everyone home. But that’s not the David Cook way. As bad as he felt, he still took the time to meet with me and his other guests. And in my opinion, that’s why David will have longevity—he’s a genuinely nice guy who cares about his fans.

And if his eyes hadn’t given him away, you might have never even realized he was sick. He smiled and posed for the camera and graciously thanked us for coming. And for the record, I did apologize to him for not fixing the weather and he made me promise to try harder if he ever comes back to Portsmouth.

After just a few minutes with David, I went back to the lobby where Ryan was signing autographs and posing for pictures. But I had to hide my VIP pass, because there was at least one David Cook fan who was trying to figure out how she could rip it off of me.

So, I found a seat in the corner and watched Ryan pose for pictures. As he said later, he thought he met everyone in town last night—and I don’t think that’s too far off. But Ryan—and his band—were great with everyone. You could see him gaining fans by the carloads as he made sure each fan got the autograph and picture they wanted. And just when the crowd would die down, a new group of people would come over to see what the fuss was about.

By this time, I was joined by my hero Denise, who actually worked backstage at the show, and we waited patiently so that I could take her picture with Ryan. Finally, he was free and she grabbed him to take the picture. But when he saw it was me with the camera, he couldn’t resist asking me how I liked the show. I told him that I loved it and couldn’t wait for the album. He gave me one more big hug and posed for another picture, thanked me and Denise for everything, told us what a pleasure it was to meet us and then went off to find something to drink.

Denise and I walked to our cars, still buzzing from the big night…

It was great to see that David is just as nice of a guy as he appears on TV. He’s a fantastic performer and it will be exciting to see where his career takes him.

As for Ryan Star, this guy is just one hit away from becoming something really big. You can check out “Last Train Home” here and/or download it on iTunes. Encourage your favorite radio station to play the song as well. I have to believe that some TV show is going to snap this one up for a montage any day now.

If you missed my pre-concert interview with David, you can see it here. My interview with Ryan is here…