-Mikey. Loud cheers. Ah, so that
's why the fifty zillion prepubescent suburban fangirls sitting around me. Silly moi. He gets a huge intro from the MC, all about how this 'wonderful young man' has overcome his myriad troubles ('you remember, the Toronto Sun
did a feature' - way to be tactful, there, MC) to get to the finals of CI, and just generally grace us with his presence.
"Y'know, man's got a point," I am thinking. "Maybe I should give Mikey another chance..."
Then Mikey steps out. He looks exactly like he did on TV, contacts and tracksuit and all. And then the thanking begins...and all my noble resolutions go straight out the gate. I mean, I'm sorry, but smarminess just oozes off this man.
He sings Hello
. He can undoubtedly do that very well. By the end he has collected a sizeable huddle of camcorder-toting fangirls at his feet.
Then he announces he's 'into audience participation'..oh, lord, how do I describe this?
He's asking where all his 'ladies in red' are, and introducing his 'lovely assistant' - I swear, that's exactly what he says - a slender blonde woman in a scarlet jumpsuit. (Said woman is later introduced as the head of concert sponsor DareArts, so I'm really hoping the getup was just a massive coincidence.) This woman is holding - again, not making this up - a huge bouquet of red carnations, complete with babies'-breath...
You can guess the scene that follows: He heads off into the audience to dispose of the flowers, whilst smarming his way through Lady in Red
. To his credit, a few go to toddlers...but many more go to the Camcorder Posse. Who promptly burst into tears. Meantime I am literally sitting there with my scarf over my head, counting how many choruses 'til it's over. Quite a few, as it turned out. Then he thanks everyone some more...
--Tyler - who also has no CD to flog - is, like Richie, taking this all very seriously; I suppose having chirrun of your own makes the concept of their finding peace a bit more immediate.
So he makes a sober little speech about what an honour it is to be associated etc., says 'This is my song for the children', then launches into You'll Never Walk Alone
. Then he sings Don't Let the Sun...
after suggesting that the chorus 'might also remind us of the children'.
Now, Tyler is about the very last man on this planet who could get away with this kind of routine without my horking up my popcorn. Transparent sincerity radiates from him like smarm with Mikey...well, that, and the 'incredibly gorgeous' thing. (He's a big man - about six-two - to begin with, and his present company is exaggerating this to almost cartoonish effect.) And a sort of quiet, blue-collar sweetness. It's now very easy for me to understand how this guy convinced himself he was doing a truly kick-ass Elvis impression Motown night.
Another thing that didn't come across so well on TV is the sheer power of the man's voice. He's rattling the rooftops - of a domed stadium - and in complete control of every note besides (he finishes off DLTSGDOM with a particularly breathtaking flurry). Another time and place he could probably be trained into a passable operatic baritone. As it is, his gospel roots are clearly evident.
--MC announces Gary...'Beeeeaaaaalllls!!' Yes, we get it, he's the runner-up, thanks.
Five, ten seconds go by. I am running through the usual mental list of accidents and delays - and stifling a particularly entertaining idea involving the von Trapps and some Nazis - but what it turns out to be, basically, is a moment of silence in mourning for Gary Beals: Sweet, Humble Kid.
Then the spotlite goes up...and Gary Beals: The Blessing struts out. (At least, about as well as a slight five-four/five guy can
strut.) And he is smiling
. Yea, verily, Mr.Beals has come down from on high to give us less spiritually-attuned mortals a rare taste of his Presence.
OK, I'm exaggerating - but not by much. Anyhow, as noted he does an utterly lovely job of I Believe I Can Fly
, so beautiful in fact that he's a good third of the way in before the R.Kelly subtext kicks in. This is where being in a sea of prepubescent females is really unhelpful; I'm looking around, hoping to find somebody to catch eyes and snicker with, and nada
. Same worshipful attention that Mikey gets. Anyhow, Gary's CD is out in April - 'So pick it up!'
Edited by Shoebox, Jan 1, 2004 @ 12:31 AM.