Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Clay Aiken Was Awful"

Some comments about and reviews of Clay Aiken's summer tour are starting to emerge, and they aren't pretty.
Some examples:
" Perusing local message boards revealed common themes: Clay Aiken was awful, the fireworks were great, and half will never come back due to traffic problems. It is a shame the city puts on such fabulous events that conclude with so many in misery."
"What was the biggest impression, unfortunately, was the crowds of people BEHIND that comparatively small group huddled at the front of the stage.
The soccer field was ---throughout the entire concert---filled with children playing and laughing and yelling, adults drinking and talking and laughing---all kinds of people just having a good ole' time on a pleasant July 4th evening, waiting for the fireworks.
Honestly, I have to say that the majority of the people I could see weren't paying much attention at all to whatever was happening on stage.
Also unfortunately, I heard more than just a few derisive comments about Clay and the show from people in the stands who were obviously there for the game and the fireworks who viewed the show as an annoyance at least and something that should be shot and put out of its misery at the other extreme.
These were just your average---non-Clay fans---who commented on the odd fact of a symphony setting up on stage for a soccer stadium concert or had ignorant commentary on personal aspects of Clay that we fans are certainly familiar with. It was NOT my favorite concert experience.
I've read some of the effusively positive reports from others who were there on the field and talked to some in person after the show and it seems that they really were unaware of what was happening behind them. To me and perhaps others who had a different perspective of the whole scene, it was....disturbing.
From my seat it almost seemed as though the majority of the people there were either just plain indifferent to Clay and the show or had some unflattering commentary about it. Also unfortunately, the sound system sucked and the musicians were not all that.
I agree that the show didn't 'flow' and in fact at times had the amateurish quality of a Hometown Connection production. I'm sure that timing and flow, etc., will improve. Clay's concerts always morph from one to the other.
I missed being able to wallow in the man and the voice. All the other stuff was SO prominent and distracting that it was difficult to enjoy and appreciate the VOX. And THAT, my friends, should"
From a Clay Board

There is a line in one of the better songs from Clay Aiken’s newest, and least memorable, album that carries more of a message than he likely intended. It’s from Everything I Have,
and it goes like this: “I can only do my best/I have to trust you with the rest.” Aiken often sings love songs to his audience, as he did in his first tour when he dedicated The Way to them, and in the current tour when he sings Because You Loved Me to them. He might do well, however, when he sings Everything I Have to pay more attention to this particular line. You see, Aiken’s fans are very, very dedicated, and he can trust them - to go to his concerts, to buy his music, to watch any appearance he happens to make on television, to buy his book, to contribute to his charity….
Yes, these are good fans. But if the last album and the current tour are any indication, Mr. Aiken may not be keeping up his end of the bargain. Neither the album nor the tour so far are anywhere near the best he can do. On "A Thousand Different Ways," released last fall, he’s vocally adept – stunning, in places, but his awesome voice is wasted on material that it’s far too soon to recycle, at least by a singer as new to the industry as Aiken. The album is not bad, exactly. It’s just forgettable. But a mediocre album – or at least the damage it did to his reputation - might have been redeemed with a stellar concert tour. If he were to mix in the requisite songs from the album with some real showstoppers, and he is certainly capable of something more challenging than Achy Breaky Heart and a medley of theme songs from old television shows, he could satisfy his current fans and possibly win over some new ones. But if the performance in Tulsa is anything to go by, Aiken has decided to expend minimal effort, collect his ticket money, and move on. Oh, he’s having a good time on the stage. He jokes, he banters with the audience, he giggles. And he sings a little. Sometimes well. Other times, not.
That’s probably going to continue through Orlando, too, because his fans, the Claymates, are enablers. Many are uncritical – everything he does is okay with them, and anyone who dares to suggest that he is anything less than the God of pop music with the virtues of a saint is in danger of being shellacked and duct taped to a railroad track. There are other fans, however, those not wanting the shellac and duct tape treatment, who are quietly not so pleased. They find the banter overdone and disorderly, and worse, done at the expense of his singing voice, which cracks and tires after so much conversation. Much of it is witty, true, and most of the Claymates who follow him around the country, love it, but it won’t win him the new fans he needs to sustain a career, and it may lose him some of those he has had for the last four years.
Some in the audience have suggested that this is a “throw-away” tour for Aiken, who is contractually obliged to promote an album that he doesn’t believe in himself. Trouble is, not all those ticket buyers know that. Aiken’s mother must have told him at some time that anything worth doing is worth doing well. He should have listened. If not to her, then to his own line … “I can only give you everything I have.”
Four years ago, Clay Aiken was on a trajectory to the stars. I know that’s true because Diane Sawyer said so. I wonder what she’d say now. Perhaps Aiken has other ambitions and is getting his stand-up schtick together in the hopes of taking over for Leno or Letterman one day. Whatever, it is clear that he loves the stage, and if the current tour shows nothing else, it does show that he is a performer. At this stage of his career, however, he would do well to remember that America fell in love not just with a performer, but with a singer. It might be a really good idea to get his singing career firmly established before branching out. It’s time to focus.