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American Idols 2007 Opening Night Like TV season: Not Great!

Idols' opening night of tour a bumpy one
By HOWARD COHEN

Given that American Idol set the bar so low this season a mole would give itself a concussion, the opening night gaffes for the tour from Sunrise's BankAtlantic Center Friday night weren't quite as off-putting as they might have felt at another more professional concert.

This is, after all, the top 10 performers out of more than 100,000 who showed up for auditions and it led to . . . Sanjaya Malakar.

Strictly amateur hour.

And yet, Idol producers at least tried a little something different with this tour by stifling some of the numbing predictability of previous versions. Instead of trotting out the finalists in order of elimination, producers teamed the cast in various combinations, but this led to too much Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis, both of whom lack the voices to fill an arena. It was too long a wait to hear from Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who didn't get her spotlight until the finale.

These mix-and-match performances rose and fell based on the chemistry between the singers. LaKisha Jones' huge voice impressed, her solo on I Will Always Love You was, by far, the standout of the tour. But she exhibited the warmth of Antarctica when paired with Melinda Doolittle. The gifted Melinda held back vocally, seemingly overwhelmed on the first night. The format could also use polishing, as the concert's herky-jerky flow felt like a car with a faulty transmission.

Producers should also limit Blake, the beat boxer who finished in second place. He proved an irritating gnat, sputtering and spitting through too many contestants' performances. Technical problems also marred his attempt to use loop pedals for a hip-hop portion -- someone forgot to switch his mike on, he said. (Yeah. Right. Maybe that was just an excuse to explain why his voice failed to carry in the large space.)
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