The face value of a ticket in the center loge section of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for “Idol Gives Back” was $100. For that, you would’ve got to see four live performances and watch the rest of the show — which is to say, just about the whole show — on a giant screen above the stage.
Was it worth all that? Splitting up the roster of performers played just fine on television, but in person, the performer the Pasadena audience saw the most on Wednesday night (April 21) was Bill the warm-up guy. Granted, a healthy chunk of ticket price probably went to the various charities “Idol Gives Back” supports (all of them doing real and meaningful work where it’s needed here and abroad; you can donate at AmericanIdol.com), but for those of us there in person, watching 20 minutes or so of live performance and two hours of a television show made for a weird evening.
Other notes from the night:
- The audience in Pasadena did not seem to mind the long stretches between performances — at all. They applauded loud and long for everything that passed before the stage. We think we heard maybe six words from Queen Latifah, who hosted the Pasadena portion of the show, all evening.
- How to suck the air out of a room completely: Follow a typically high-energy Black Eyed Peas performance (of “Rock That Body”) immediately with a taped segment about a woman in Uganda who’s dying of malaria. It was as if 3,000 people suddenly felt guilty for having cheered two minutes earlier.
- Strangest celebrity cameo of the night: rapper Common, who was in the audience for a while, then stood chatting with Queen Latifah on stage for several minutes while the show was focusing on the lame Russell Brand-Jonah Hill bit. When Ryan Seacrest threw it back to Pasadena, he said “It’s my pleasure to introduce to you all, singing the song ‘Change’ — put your hands together for Carrie Underwood.” That was it. We know he and Latifah are starring in a movie together, but it seemed odd nonetheless.
- Unexpected star(s) of the evening: A 10-year-old boy Bill singled out for conversation during a break, and whom he tried to set up on a date with other kids in the audience (the kid took it very well); and a woman named Summer, who rocked the mic to “Rapper’s Delight” before the show started. She knew a lot more lyrics than just “A hip hop, the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop the rock,” which took Bill the warm-up guy and most of the crowd by surprise.
- Joss Stone and Jeff Beck were on stage for a good 10 minutes before they actually performed. They watched the big screen for most of George Lopez’s bit at “Idol” HQ — Stone seemed to be having a good laugh — but when Seacrest started announcing results, they were mostly talking among themselves.
- In the notebook following Mary J. Blige’s performance of “Stairway to Heaven”: After that, does Elton John do “Freebird”?
- Note to self: Find a way to take wife to see Elton John in concert at some point in the future. We’d be lying if we said we’ve always been a huge fan of his music, but the man is an absolutely captivating live performer.
- The house was emptying after John’s performance, but there was mild applause when Seacrest announced Tim Urban was going home.