Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's the day after Clay...

...and I don't know about you, but I'm still in awe of what I saw and heard last night. In one sentence:

I was blown away by Clay Aiken's "Christmas in the Heartland" stop at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.

In the interest of full disclosure, I voted for Clay on Season Two of "American Idol." I thought he was better than Ruben Studdard. I have all of Clay's CDs, including the "All is Well" EP that dropped on iTunes last Tuesday. I told Clay all of this last week when I interviewed him, and he was very appreciative.

So with that background, I went into the weekend with high expectations ... and Clay blew past the high bar I'd set! Having only been able to catch the second half of last night's show due to previous work commitments, I left the Civic Center assured that, as I wrote in my last post (and I quote)...

Clay has the best voice of anyone I've ever seen in concert. And I mean it!



Clay sings a little of "All is Well" last night. Admittedly, the video is somewhat wobbly.

Sure, it comes through on CDs, but to hear him live is a totally different experience. A microphone is all he needs; his voice is his own instrument. I swear, I heard him hit notes last night that I've never heard a male singer hit. It was truly amazing.

I knew the guy could sing; but you can't appreciate how well he can sing until you hear it live in person.

Now, this wasn't just a concert (and certainly not a run-of-the-mill pop concert), it was more like what I'd expect a night at the Kennedy Center to be like: It was classy, it was elegant and it was fitting with both Clay and the music singing and the season he was celebrating.

Decked out in formal wear, Clay seemingly hovered over the grand piano in the middle of the stage (he was actually on a platform behind it, climbing several steps to get there) and was flanked by a back-up vocalist on either side, each wearing a ball gown. Wearing nice jeans and a button-down dress shirt (I'd just come from work, remember), I felt naked compared to all this!

On a personal note as a veteran of 13 years of Catholic school, I found it extremely refreshing to see a performer sing the religious songs I heard (oh) so many times from kindergarten all the way through high school. It was nice to see that while far too many artists compromise their personal beliefs to sell tickets, Clay didn't. He provided a nice mix of traditional and religious Christmas standards ("O Come All Ye Faithful," "O Holy Night" and the like) with newer, more secular songs that celebrate the holiday ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Christmas Song," et al).

The most disappointing part of the night for me was seeing empty seats. (It almost makes me feel like no one read my story in Friday's Poughkeepsie Journal!) As I'd passed along in an earlier post Saturday morning, ticket sales apparently weren't what people had hoped so they sold 2- and 4-packs for basically half-price. It's a shame because too many people missed an amazing show, the best I've seen at the Civic Center in all of 2007.

After the show, Clay finally emerged from the stage door close to 90 minutes after the show, wearing a sky-blue University of North Carolina sweatshirt, quickly walking to his bus to escape our the temps in the 20s, but kind enough to turn around and wave to the dozen or so dedicated fans who braved the cold.

As a P.S. to the story: Around 12:45 a.m., after the last fans had long departed, Clay left that bus and walked back to the other bus (the one closer to the stage door) and before departing for tonight's show at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

As a P.P.S. to the story: As I stated earlier, treacherous weather is forecast Sunday for the Northeast throughout the day and night, so hence, I won't be driving the 3+ hours and reviewing the Mohegan Sun show.

15 comments:

Tiffany said...

I'm disappointed that you won't get to see the show in its entirety, but I'm so glad you got to see at least the second half. Clay's voice is not done justice on a recorded album. You have to hear him live and hear that *voice* live to really appreciate it's depth and beauty. Thank you for the review you were able to give us... I hope Clay makes a stop close to you again!

dawn said...

Great review. Thank you. Sad that you'll miss tonights concert. There's lots of video floating around if you are really interested in seeing the whole concert.

jada said...

i have seen clay a couple of times before, both with the idol group and alone with kelly clarkson. not only does he have an incredible voice but he is sweet and kind and funny. during one concert he took a cell phone from a young fan who was talking to a friend.he brought the girl on stage, took her phone and chatted with the kid on the other end of the line. no wonder all of the claymates adore him! i have ticlets for spam-a-lot next april and can't wait to see him on broadway. clay will be a star for many years, deservedly so.

tennie said...

I'M drawing a blank . what required field?

Anonymous said...

My husband and I saw Clay's concert last night as an early Christmas present from my 21 year old son. We traveled from Massachusetts to see Clay and it was certainly worth taking the time. We only wished the night went longer--the time flew so quickly listening to the orchestra and Clay with his backup singers. A purely majestic evening and the best Christmas present I've ever received. Just a lovely evening. Your review was right on!

tennie said...

My comment was thanking u for the writeup on Clay., Sorry u missed part of his show. I didn't make it to this one but I HAVE BEEN TO SEVERAL OF HIS .GLAD U THINK HE HAS A GOOD VOICE ,IPERSONALLY THINK IT IS AN EXCEPTIONAL VOICE. NONE OTHER LIKE IT.I ALMOST CRIED WHEN I SAW THE EMPTY SEATS. HE DOESN'T DESERVE THIS ,BUT MAYBE PEOPLE HAD A GOOD REASON LIKE ME NOT TO BE ABLE TO GET THERE. THANKS AGAIN FOR A GOOD ARTICLE COMING FROM A MALE POINT OF VIEW .FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON (JEALOUSLY MAYBE?)THEY ALWAYS SPEAK NEGATIVELY ABOUT HIM. THANK U

tigerpat said...

I saw Clay's concert at his first stop in Wichita and SO wish I could go to see this one again.

It is truly a beautiful concert and I feel almost sorry for those people who do not 'get it.' For those of us who do, what a wonderful and cherished gift it is from him to us.

Thank you, Sean, for a lovely review of a lovely concert.

Happy Holidays!!

Jeannie said...

Wonderful concert last night, as always. I was fortunate to see Clay at Eisenhower Hall USMA last December and felt his singing last night at the Civic Center was even more awesome, as if that was even possible. I am still in awe of the rich, warm, wonderful voice that Clay so readily shares with his fans. I will see you next year as well! Merry Christmas!

Jen said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a positive review! I was able to attend two of Clay's shows this Christmas and was also, as you said, blown away! His voice is just so amazing, and a beautiful instrument to bring the message of the songs to all listening. I had chills and tears during both concerts I attended, along with an overwhelming fullness of the Christmas spirit in my heart. What an awesome gift Clay has been given, and how lucky we are to hear it!

Hope you are able to see an entire show in the future! Thanks again for for such an accurate and positive review! Best wishes this Christmas

Anonymous said...

Sean, good review even if only for half the show. The attendance is a crime because he is one of if not the best out there today! His talent is vast and wonderful. He puts his heart and soul into every show he produces. There is only one Clay Aiken!! Here is a link if you want some pics from last night and as always, there is clackunlimited or youtube for video. http://theclayboard.yuku.com/topic/19355/t/OFFICIAL-12-08-07-POUGHKEEPSIE-NY-Video-Photographs.html

Hope this^works!

Anonymous said...

I attended four of the Christmas shows, and Poughkeepsie was definitely one of my favorites.
Just a little side note to your PS- not all the fans had left by 12:45 ;)

Sarah said...

Best voice heard ever? Then you've never been to a DMB concert!!!

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great review and sad the venue was not filled. I have been to several
and they have been packed. I believe yours was one of the last to be announced and most fans already had made their plans.

Looking forward to his appearance on Broadway, I just hope the critics there are as kind as you!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND COMMENTS REGARDING CLAY'S CHRISTMAS CONCERT. I COMMENTED EARLIER BEFORE READING YOUR REVIEW, STATING THAT SBARNES@TIMESUNION.COM WAS MOST UNKIND IN HIS REVIEW. I WROTE AND GAVE HIM A PIECE OF MY MIND BECAUSE HE HAS NO MIND AND IS AN IDIOT. GOOD THING CLAY TELLS US TO BE KIND TO IDIOTS AND THE LIKE. J.W.