If Kris Allen kept on playing like he did in San Francisco, making and breaking lunch hours and my school schedule in the process, that’s more than alright with me.
Last year’s American Idol champion brought some acoustic soul in original tracks and reprises of his signature cover performances on Idol at the by-invite-or-win-only STAR 101.3‘s The Bleu Room last Wednesday afternoon, held at the famed W Hotel. The short set was led only by Allen’s vocals and guitar plus backing vocals and guitar by Cale Mills, a hometown friend of Allen’s – and apparently a Cosmopolitan Bachelor of the Year?
In between songs, STAR 101.3 morning show DJ Don Bleu interviewed Allen, who spoke of his Idol experience, being on the road, feeling like a rookie recording his first indie record Brand New Shoes, and his pre-Idol and current charity work (He recently visited Haiti for earthquake relief). Allen’s interview demeanor is pretty lax, but he enjoys throwing jokes and laughing – despite a whirlwind year, he has still remained that down-home boy from Conway, Ark.
Personally, I found Mr. Allen to be a bit boring (Or what the judges would call “sleepy” for this current season) during his Idol run and even during the summer tour at times, in the three shows that I went to (“Ain’t No Sunshine” was the performance that converted me during the season). However, seeing him live, unplugged, and singing his own material and even in doing covers for this intimate joint is the absolute best I’ve ever seen him perform. Mindblowing, even. The songs Allen sings are organic, yet he has a very strong and confident stage presence when he performs them. In that short 45-50 minute time span of the show, I found a greater respect for Kris Allen as an individual, musician, and performer than I had thought possible.
His interaction with the audience to sing along to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” (Probably my personal favorite from the set) and “Alright With Me” was engaging and made the small atmosphere much more lively. One surprise to me was the performance of a song called “Send Me All Your Angels,” a Wal-Mart exclusive edition track that Allen co-wrote with season 5 Idol finalist Chris Daughtry – I just was never able to listen to it till I saw and heard it at that moment.
After his set ended, Allen joined the president of the W Hotel to celebrate the hotel’s acknowledgment as a green hotel…I don’t know either, but the ribbon cutting looked funny from far away.
In conclusion, to bring up something from the interviews with Don Bleu, Allen said his superhero name would be “Kris Idol.” (Don Bleu’s blunder became a for-real thing though!) So this Kris Idol kid? He’s just one of hell of a winner – saving the day, saving lives, and saving the music, one guitar strum at a time.
Check out my friend Kirsten’s recap from the event!
Set list, videos, and photo gallery link under the cut.
Heartless / Gangsta’s Paradise (covers / mashup)
Before We Come Undone
Send Me All Your Angels
Man in the Mirror (cover)
Alright With Me
Live Like We’re Dying