Testone, other American Idol finalists rock North Charleston
By DEVIN GRANT | Monday, August 6, 2012
There was a sense of excitement outside the North Charleston Coliseum tonight even before the scheduled American Idol Live! concert began.
The tour marked a homecoming for one of the former contestants, Elise Testone. Prior to making it onto the televised contest, the local musician played in bars and clubs all over the Lowcountry, and also taught voice lessons at Music Unlimited in Mount Pleasant.
James Island resident Dan Henderson took lessons from Testone for two years.
“She’s the hardest working musician in Charleston,” Henderson said outside of the venue before the show. “She can sing anything.” Henderson also said that Testone was responsible for him watching “American Idol” for the first time ever last season.
In the line at the coliseum’s ticket office, Clint Luers of Hanahan was sporting a bright yellow T-shirt with “Team Elise” across the front. Standing nearby were Luers’ wife, Dana, and his daughter, Genica, who were also wearing shirts showing their allegiance to Testone.
Luers, a local mechanic, has never taken music lessons from Testone, but he still has a professional connection to the singer. “She brought her car to me after she had driven it through some water,” he said. “I’ve been her mechanic ever since.”
Luers and his family were also proud of how far Testone had come. “She’s awesome! I hope she becomes a quadrillionaire!”
As the show kicked into gear just after 7 p.m., the giant video screen that loomed over the stage showed an opening video that depicted the 10 finalists from this season’s competition hurtling toward earth as shooting stars.
The biggest cheers during that opening sequence came when Testone’s face lit up the 40-foot tall screen. Once the opening animation was over, the nine singers that had placed second through tenth on the show took to the stage to perform an ensemble version of My Chemical Romance’s “Sing.”
The crowd of about 7,000 treated all of the artists to generous rounds of applause as the singers worked their way through an eclectic selection of songs, but there were obvious favorites.
Colton Dixon, charmed with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” and Testone again received a huge crowd reaction as she re-created one of her best moments from the TV show with a blistering take on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Flanked by the backup band’s guitar player, Testone wailed away at the classic rock song in a way that would likely make Robert Plant smile in approval.
After a short intermission, during which commercials for pimple cream and cookies targeted American Idol’s core audience of teens and pre-teens, the performances continued. It was becoming clear that the show’s producers were keeping season 11 winner Phillip Phillips tucked away backstage until the end of the show.
In the meantime, fans were treated to more performances by the other former contestants. First runner-up Jessica Sanchez channeled Tina Turner on “Proud Mary” with a sense of power that belied her petite size. Skylar Laine demonstrated why she might be the next big thing in country music as she tore through a Miranda Lambert tune, while another crowd favorite, Joshua Ledet, honored the memory of the late James Brown.
Finally it was time for Phillips to come out of hiding. The season 11 champ got five songs to close out the fourth quarter of the show. Phillips’ performance of “Superstition” was especially impressive, given that one doesn’t usually picture the classic Stevie Wonder tune incorporating an acoustic guitar, as Phillips did.
For the show’s finale, all 10 of the performers came together to sing a medley that included Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” and The Wanted’s “Glad You Came.”
The slick, big-budget production seemed to please all in attendance, and the huge scope of the show really showed that the show’s producers are doing what they can to make the experience of “American Idol” last as long as possible. At the same time, it’s nice to see even those that didn’t finish first get a taste of big time fame before they go back to charting their own artistic courses.
Reach Devin Grant at email@example.com
Sing (all cast except Phillip Phillips)
Master Blaster (DeAndre Brackensick)
Undo It (Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine)
Glitter in the Air (Erika Van Pelt)
Moves Like Jagger (Erika Van Pelt, Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon)
Green Light (Heejun Han)
Party Rock Anthem (Heejun Han, DeAndre Brackensick, Jessica Sanchez)
Everybody Talks (Joshua, Colton, DeAndre, Heejun)
Whole Lotta Love (Elise Testone)
Rumor Has It (Elise, Erika, DeAndre)
Meant To Live (Colton)
Never Gone (Colton)
Piano Man (Colton)
Just the Way You Are/What Makes You Beautiful (full cast except Phillips)
Best Thing I Ever Had (Jessica)
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore (Jeasica, Joshua, DeAndre)
Proud Mary (Jessica, Joshua, DeAndre)
Gunpowder & Lead (Skylar)
Stay With Me (Skylar)
Rolling in the Deep (Hollie, Elise, Erika)
Give Your Heart a Break (Hollie)
Runaway (Joshua, Elise, DeAndre, Erika)
It’s a Man’s World (Joshua)
I Knew You Were Waiting (Joshua, Jessica)
Superstition (Phillip Phillips)
Nice & Slow (Phillip)
Somebody I Used To Know (Phillip, Elise)
Volcano (Phillip, Jessica)
Home (Phillip, DeAndre, Colton)
Raise Your Glass/Glad You Came (full cast)