Idol Worship: David Cook Talks Tour, Season 8

Cook_set_list_6 It wasn't that we weren't ready for season 8 of American Idol to start, but on premiere night, we couldn't pass up one last look back at season 7. And so, instead of being glued to our TV at 8:00 p.m., we watched David Cook wow a crowd of several hundred diehard fans — live! — on the Jimmy Kimmel Live outdoor stage, in what was undoubtedly a stroke of booking genius. Perhaps you caught some of the performance on Tuesday night's show? Well, let us fill you in on what you didn't see.

Cook played a five-song mini-set that kicked off with his debut single, "Light On," and included a rousing version of "Kiss on My Neck," a bonus track offered with his self-titled album, as well as one very ambitious cover of Fleetwood Mac's 1987 hit "Little Lies" (see full set list lifted from Cook's guitar tech below). There was lots of sing-along going on, as the audience took over the chorus on "Declaration" and handled the breakdown in "Light On" with aplomb, which made for a cheery Cook and a confident, now super-tight band. Band members Neal Tiemann, Andy Skib, Joey Clement and Kyle Peek brought the rock, but it was Idol worship all the way. The proof was in the signage: "David Cook Is My Guitar Hero," "I heart DC" and "Marry Me, David," among other homemade banners held high by teens and cougars alike, some of whom had been waiting out in the L.A. heat all day in hopes of scoring a front row spot.

But we've got some good news for fans aching for their own live dose of Cook: He's heading out on a college tour starting Feb. 13. Following a performance to open the American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando on Feb. 12, Cook will hit the road for a month's worth of dates, starting in Tallahassee, Fla.. The full tour routing should be announced this week, Cook told us after the show.

What else did our reigning American Idol winner have to say on this premiere night? Read on for our quickie Cookie Q&A...

What can you tell us about the tour?

We're gonna do a kind of grassroots thing and hit a lot of colleges. Because I remember going to shows in my college life and feeling like there's such a cool energy that you don't find in a regular venue. Like in the '70s, all these amazing bands were playing college circuits, and I want to get back to that. It's what I'm really stoked about — not only do I get to go out with four cool guys and have fun, but I get to do what I want to do.

Any thoughts on openers?

We'll take on any comers, man. My vibe right now is that we just want it to be real. I want whoever goes to the show to come out and feel like they got way too much for what they paid for.

Your cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies" was unexpected. Are you a big fan?

I'm more of a cursory fan. It was an idea that my guitar player Neil brought up, and I was, like, "Oh yeah, I remember this song." He and I tossed it around and worked it out. It's fun to play, it's got a cool energy and when you throw on the distorted guitars, it works.   

You're obviously no stranger to big moments on live television, but what was it like to receive your first platinum plaque on "New Year's Rockin' Eve?"

I was a little bit in shock, so my reaction was not indicative of how I felt. I was just so focused in on the performance that night that it was like, "OK, what?! There's a platinum record right there. It's legit!" But it was an amazing plaque and it looks very nice in the house. Hopefully I'll get a few more to add to the collection.

Idol is starting up as we speak. Will you be watching this season?

I Tivo'd it. But it's funny, I was telling my manager earlier, everything is so fresh all of a sudden. To talk about Idol again, I remember how it felt to do city auditions and get to Hollywood. I'm anxious and nervous for these people. So I'll probably watch it with half a fingernail hanging on, chewing them to the nub.

According to new judge Kara Dioguardi, the guys are looking good this year. Do you feel like you and David Archuleta had anything to do with an impressive male turnout?

Talent is talent and I'm certainly not at the point where I feel responsible for anyone. It's all much bigger than me. But I'm excited to see how the changes go and I'm always on the lookout for another good rocker. I'm still amazed that it happened to me! -- Shirley Halperin

January 14, 2009 in American Idol, In Concert, Music, Television | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack

Talkin' To Ourselves About Wilco

Wilco_2 J.I. scored a coup on Saturday night and got himself into the taping for "Saturday Night Live," mainly to ogle Wilco but also to kinda pay attention to the comedy going on around him. Verdict: Wilco, A. Comedy, C+.

First thing's first: kudos for not going the obvious route with the song choices. First up was "Hate It Here," one of the more straightforward songs on "Sky Blue Sky." On Saturday, the addition of the Total Pros horn trio gave the track an extra kick that contrasted nicely with frontman Jeff Tweedy's Mr. Mom-style lyrics, and the ending was much more emphatic than the soft finale utilized on the studio version.

Later on, "Walken" found Tweedy busting out a white spangly nudie suit, quite an upgrade from the jeans/sneakers combo he had on during the first tune. The riffs were meaty, especially Nels Cline's lap steel wizardry, and several members of the audience were air-drumming along with Glenn Kotche's fills. Plus, Tweedy had pictures of his kids taped to his guitar strap, and employed a sly twist on the lyric "I know it's you," changing it to "I know it's Sue," a winking nod to his wife.

Although none of the band members showed up in any of the skits, we were treated to the bizarro world site of Tweedy shaking hands with surprise "Weekend Update" guest Rudy Giuliani during the cast farewell sequence as the end credits ran. After all, Wilco played a Barack Obama fundraiser in Chicago a few months back...

There are also some amusing promos featuring host Ellen Page ("Juno") and Wilco, including one where Tweedy gets to deliver the punch line. You go!

March 2, 2008 in In Concert | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Nasty Nas

Nas How much does J.I. love Nasty Nas? Let us count the ways. Let’s see ... He habitually forgets the words to his own lyrics and we forgive him -- now that’s love. On Wednesday (Dec. 26), Nas shut down New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom with his 2nd annual day-after-Christmas concert.

“While all the executives are on vacation in St. Barts, Nas is in New York City with y'all mutherfuckers," said Nasir Jones. "I love y'all.”

Backed by a three-piece band and with hip-hop icon Marley Marl as his DJ, Nas ran through hits like “Street Dreams” and “Affirmative Action.” Unfortunately, neither AZ or the incarcerated Foxy Brown were around to perform their verses for that last song. Sad face. But Grammy–nominated songstress Chrisette Michele (we told ya’ll she was dope) made it out for “Can’t Forget About You.”  Though her short-cropped haircut was a bit too much like her labelmate Rihanna's, we’re supporting her experiments with new looks. Always gotta switch it up.

Busta Rhymes popped up for “New York State of Mind” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.” Before he left, Busta Bus said, essentially, that a lot of rappers call themselves the King of New York (shout to Biggie, Frank White and Christopher Walken) but that Nas actually is. Wonder who that sneak diss was for? Perhaps someone who recently quit Def Jam? You be the judge.

In addition to Nas forgetting his lyrics at least nine times (yes, we counted), one funny part of the show was the full-length performance of “Ochie Wallie” starring the fame-starved Bravehearts (Nas’ brother and bodyguard). Now J.I.’s not mad at their performance -- it’s a hot joint -- but did we really have to hear
the WHOLE SONG? Nas is headlining the show and he barely performed any of his songs in their entirety.

When Nas closed with “Made Ya Look,” J.I. realized that we love him, even if he can’t remember the words to “Halftime.” I mean c’mon! That was over 10 years ago, right?

December 28, 2007 in Hip Hop, In Concert, Music, Nas | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Heard 'Ya Missed Us .. We're Back!!

Halen It's all so unlikely, or is it? I'm talking about the fact that David Lee Roth, at 53, has a lustrous, full head of hair, a mind-bogglingly ripped physique and enough command over his voice to lead Van Halen through a truly incredible, triumphant return to New York's sold-out Madison Square Garden in the year 2007.

This tour has been met with a healthy dose of cynicism by observers, and for obvious reasons. For one, Roth's many prior attempts to rejoin the group he quit in 1985 have met with disaster, and he was last seen singing bluegrass versions of Van Halen hits on "The Tonight Show."

For another, beloved bassist Michael Anthony was unceremoniously booted from the band and replaced by Eddie Van Halen's 16-year-old son, Wolfgang. Eddie's stint in rehab earlier this year nearly scotched the tour in the first place, but here they all are anyway, rocking out with a power rarely seen among current acts.

In New York, the show consistently teetered between ridiculous and ridiculously awesome, and was often some of each. Eddie Van Halen, bare-chested and in drawstring pants as if he was just sprung from prison, might not have been much to look at, but his playing was astounding. Any time his handiwork began to border on pure self-indulgence (the vaguely planetarium-esque noodling from "Cathedral," excerpted during his solo), he quickly shifted gears into displays of undeniable virtuosity (the fret-tapping evergreen "Eruption," cue devil horns).

Roth was the consummate rock frontman, employing a full arsenal of hats, microphones wedged into the top of his tight pants and garish top coats to accent the belting out of classics like "Beautiful Girls," "Runnin' With the Devil" and "Hot for Teacher."

Even when he "forgot the f*ckin' words" during a cover of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and ran around the stage waving a giant red flag during "1984," you couldn't help but smile. "Three-quarters original and one-quarter inevitable," he bellowed when introducing the band.

As for Wolfgang, well, he's a 16-year-old kid, and he looks like it. His stage presence is nearly non-existent, but he played well. It was pretty clear the backing vocals once so identifiable as Anthony's were being piped in through the PA (as were all the keyboard parts), but Wolfie was dutifully on the mic and on cue every time he needed to be.

That leaves drummer Alex Van Halen, who looks much older than his 54 years but managed to deliver all the signature fills fans were expecting, particularly on "Hot for Teacher." And hardly any fans hit the bathroom during his solo between "Pretty Woman" and "Unchained" -- take that, Neil Peart!

The set list wisely ignored the Sammy Hagar era, hitting most of the high points of Van Halen's first period ("Panama," "Jamie's Cryin'," "I'll Wait"). One of the more left-field moments came when Roth began "Ice Cream Man" solo on acoustic guitar, while telling stories from his pot-smoking, lady-chasing days in the early '70s.

The bottom line, and it ain't hyperbole: on this crisp fall night, Van Halen was, if only for two hours, once again the greatest rock band in the world. And that was the greatest surprise of all.

Here is Van Halen's set list:

"You Really Got Me"
"I'm the One"
"Runnin' With the Devil"
"Romeo Delight"
"Somebody Get Me a Doctor"
"Beautiful Girls"
"Dance the Night Away"
"Everybody Wants Some!!"
"So This Is Love?"
"Mean Street"
"Pretty Woman"
Drum solo
"I'll Wait"
"And the Cradle Will Rock"
"Hot for Teacher"
"Little Dreamer"
"Little Guitars"
"Jamie's Cryin'"
"Ice Cream Man"
Guitar solo
"Ain't Talkin' Bout Love"
"1984" -> "Jump"

Bonus photo: Billboard's own Chris M. Walsh in the MSG will call line with "actor" Ed Burns.

November 14, 2007 in In Concert | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jay-Z Goes 'Gangster' In New York

Jayz_06l Hmm. Last night (thanks Puff) was interesting -- it was the NYC date for Jay-Z’s "American Gangster" tour at Hammerstein Ballroom. We here at J.I. wanted to turn cartwheels with excitement, but we're not gushing like we were after 2006’s "Reasonable Doubt" concert (complete with a ‘96 Lexus driven onto the Radio City Music Hall stage, Beyonce and a FLAWLESS performance).

Let’s just say last night wasn’t Hov’s best performance. Not to mention, Nov. 11 was a rough day for the Roc-A-Fella family since Kanye West’s mother passed. Our prayers go out to West’s entire camp.

Back to Jay’s concert. First off, the line for entry was crazy long. It wrapped around the around the 34th Street block and we shivered in the 45-degree cold while Def Jam’s street team heckled us with Jay-Z lyrics and his “American Gangster” Nov. 6 release date. Note to street teamers: we know the album’s in stores. That’s why we’re in line for the CONCERT.

So J.I. finally gets in after waiting an hour in line, only to wait for another hour before Jay hits the staqe. Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex opened the show until it was apparent that the Hammerstein’s sound was so suspect that he just left the stage. And though the doors opened at 7:3, Jay didn’t hit the stage until around 10:30.

• Jay played old stuff like “P.S.A.,” “Encore” and “Excuse Me”
• Lil’ Wayne came out for “Hello Brooklyn” and co-signed himself, saying to Jay ,“The greatest rapper alive and the next rapper in line.” Smiling like a dentist was checking out his diamond-studded choppers, he left the stage. Expect him to relive that moment all over his next 75 mixtapes -- you heard it
here first.
• Puff came out for “I Get Money (remix)”
• The Roc-A-Fella family reunion with Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Memphis Bleek and Young Chris, one half of the Young Guns (where’s Lil’ Neefy, the other half?)

• By the time Jay hit the stage, most of the crowd was tired.
• Fans began leaving mid-concert and when he asked the crowd if they were ready for more, let’s just say the floor didn’t shake with hope of staying in the Hammerstein till the cows came home.
• Jay seemed tired, like the show was more work than fun. His signature Rat Pack flair, which we adore him for, was missing.
• Jadakiss joined Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella. Not that his signing is bad, but when Jay made the announcement at the show’s end, amid his celebratory “Roc Boys” performance, Jada refused to rap. Green Lantern, the show’s DJ, played “All About the Benjamins” but Jada dismissed it, saying it was “Puff’s song.” Then Green played “The Champ Is Here” and Jada complained that he was put on the spot and couldn’t remember his lyrics. So the guys just went back to performing “Roc Boys” and that was the show’s big send off. Can you say awkward?

November 12, 2007 in Hip Hop, In Concert, Jay-Z | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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