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MUSIC REVIEW

It’s Lambert who rules the stage for Garden ‘Idols’ party

Kris Allen (left) appeared as the last act of the night, crooning such favorites as 'Ain't No Sunshine When She’s Gone.' Kris Allen (left) appeared as the last act of the night, crooning such favorites as "Ain't No Sunshine When She’s Gone." (Lisa Poole)
By Joanna Weiss
Globe Staff / August 19, 2009

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To go to an “American Idols Live’’ concert is to commit to the entirety of it, the happy, safe mediocrity of the world’s greatest karaoke show. It is to know that you will endure the wobbly warbles of Megan Joy Corkrey before getting to the tougher tones of Allison Iraheta. It is to know that after Adam Lambert rules every inch of the stage, you still have to sit through Kris Allen.

Yes, poor likable “Idol’’ winner Allen, with his plaid shirt and his hi-tops and his acoustic guitar, functioned as a sweet and hardworking anticlimax when he appeared as the last act of the night, crooning such fan favorites as “Heartless’’ and “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.’’

It was Lambert who truly owned the show from the moment he appeared in a cloud of smoke, singing “Whole Lotta Love’’ with a full commitment from his vocal cords and his pelvis. He made PG-rated motions with the microphone stand. He sat intensely on a stool for “Mad World.’’ He pulled Iraheta onstage for a rollicking duet of “Slow Ride.’’ He writhed for a Bowie medley. He threw a bra that had landed onstage back into the squealing TD Garden crowd.

He was the drawer of the loudest screams, the one producers blessed with the most lights and stage effects, but the rules are the rules. Like the television show that spawned it, the “Idol’’ tour, which played to a sold-out crowd of 13,100 last night, is an efficient and ordered affair.

Each of the top 10 contestants sings a few solo songs in the order of elimination, junior varsity before the intermission, showstoppers up last. The group numbers are perfunctory and blissfully brief. There is no encore.

There are pleasant surprises along the way. Maybe an arena is more acoustically forgiving than a TV soundstage - or maybe it’s a function of more practice - but Scott McIntyre and even Corkrey (who now goes by “Megan Joy’’) sounded better than they did on television. Danny Gokey did an appealing white-boy version of “PYT’’ before descending into an airy puff of Rascal Flatts sentimentality. Anoop Desai pleased the tweens to no end. Matt Giraud pleased their mothers.

There were low points, too. Lil Rounds was nearly swallowed up alive by her version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,’’ and she and Corkrey shared a frightening off-key moment during a duet. Iraheta, so electric when she sang with Lambert, shouted into the microphone during “Rock Star’’ and “Barracuda.’’

But it’s not completely fair to complain; by definition, an “Idol’’ show will be less polished, less professional, even surprisingly wistful, as when McIntyre finished his set and descended, via hydraulic lift, back into the bowels of the Garden. Yes, the tour is about making scads of money for the “American Idol’’ enterprise, but it’s also about the end of a chapter before a new season begins. For every Lambertesque star that “Idol’’ brings into the world, there are eight or 10 people who will fade back into obscurity, so this really is the brief fulfillment of the karaoke singer’s dream.

It’s exactly how we all need to approach the show: take what you can from it, then watch it fade away.

AMERICAN IDOLS LIVE At the TD Garden

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