Last Night: Clay Aiken At Jones Hall

Aiken feb15 a.JPG
Photos by Groovehouse
Clay Aiken
Jones Hall
February 14, 2011

Ask, and thou shalt receive. Our commenters requested a Clay Aiken slideshow, so here it is.

While most people celebrated Valentine's Day last night, we headed to Jones Hall to see former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken. While it wasn't necessarily our ideal way to spend the most romantic of all holidays, we'd by lying if we said we weren't a little curious how this Valentine's Day-themed performance would map out.

Aiken is currently touring in support of his fifth album Tried and True, a tribute to the singer's favorite songs of the 1950's and '60s, including his take on songs by such artists as Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong.

Aiken's backing band took the stage first, delving into a medley overture as a bright light dramatically shone on a solitary mike stand in the stage's empty center. Aiken joined his band, his familiar baby-faced profile slowly illuminated by the light as the crowd cheered, some even standing, to offer the singer a warm Houston welcome.

Aiken feb15 b.JPG
Those audience members clutching their complementary Houston Symphony programs were likely confused at first, as Aiken's dapper suit-and-tie promo photo in the magazine was a bit misleading; the singer strolled onstage looking like the same 25-year-old kid we met on American Idol. Unlike his snazzy Rat Pack press photo, Aiken sported jeans and worn-in boots as he walked onto the spacious Jones Hall stage.

He appeared stiff and awkward right off the bat, beginning his set with the odd opening choice of the Love Story theme, a slow, moody song that only added to the singer's evidently discomfited stage presence.

Luckily, he abandoned his mike after two songs; the Frankie Valli classic "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" also livened the mood considerably, as he sauntered the stage, appearing more comfortable as the set progressed.

Acknowledging the high number of men in the audience, Aiken joked, "How many gentlemen were either threatened or bribed to be here tonight?" Thankfully, the singer was beginning to temper his choice of slow grooves with some stabs at humor.

Aiken approached a poster-toting fan seated in the front row; she and her mother had traveled from Abilene to see his performance and she was beside herself with excitement as the singer kneeled down to introduce himself and joke with her, even taking her cell phone's video camera and recording himself wishing her a "Happy Valentine's Day."

The audience seemed to appreciate Aiken's between-song banter, but unfortunately the songs would have fit all too comfortably in a cruise-ship lounge. "Moon River," "Suspicious Minds," and Aiken's several awkward attempts at mid-song humor were stale - for example, Aiken's messy pop medley of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time," the New Kids on the Block's "The Right Stuff," the Footloose theme, and his own "Invisible."


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Ckellis777
Ckellis777

Clay isn't flashy. He doesn't need a group dancing around him. He doesn't have to make an entrance in an egg. He's simply a singer of great songs. He is charismatic, funny, witty and owns the stage. I just don't understand where you got most of your perceptions of the show--unless obviously you just don't like him and were never going to give him credit. Pretty narrow minded of you! With most of the crap on the readio, it's really refreshing to still have Clay around for those of us who still like good music.

Cookiebruno5
Cookiebruno5

I have never witnessed a performer as comfortable on the stage as Clay Aiken. His voice is second to none and one of the few all around entertainers out there today. And if Brittany Spears is your cup of tea wonderful, I guess its fun to see someone lip synching, but its a rare experience to see someone singing live and sounding better than anything thats been recorded.

Sashwort
Sashwort

To dirty H: if most people who like Mr Aiken are not in the Press' target audience, why review it????? having said that--LIGHTEN UP--the talk about his hair, clothes,singing style, etc. by his fans is no different than talking about Lady Gaga's hair and make-up, clothes, etc by her fans. You think he is lame--what is wrong with that? I think lots of musicians style, even musical style is lame and I still enjoy them. (speaking of Lady Gaga). I am not a fan of Rap, but do like Jay Z, go figure....ps. I am in the Press's audience and I think the man has "killer pipes"

Dirty H
Dirty H

Those so aghast at this review need to relax.

Clearly, Clay Aiken's fan base consists primarily of American Idol devotees (most of whom have likely never been accused of having very discriminating or educated musical tastes) and older people who appreciate the songs he sings and the style with which he sings them (many who, apparently, would expect a glowing review of anything and would lash out at anyone who disagrees for, in their view, simply trying to "act cool").

I have never met Neph Basedow, but it seems fairly obvious that she is not a member of either of the aforementioned groups. Further, I think that it is also safe to assume that the majority of regular Houston Press readers are not either. For those of you who are not aware, the Press is an alternative weekly; it is NOT the type of newspaper which is expected to be completely objective in all areas. How can a music review ever be completely objective anyway? It's an opinion.

Personally, I thought this review came off as "if you DO like Clay Aiken, here's what happened." That said, those offended by this review need to keep two things in mind: 1) Most of those in the Press's target demographic probably do not care for Clay Aiken; and 2) Music journalism is not meant to be whatever you would consider "fair", but if for some reason you believe that it is, you need to search elsewhere for a bland, gushing review that will just tell you what you want to hear and not make you feel "uncool."

Indeed, why do you care what someone else thinks anyway? It's quite presumptuous of YOU to take such offense if someone else does not like Clay Aiken. In other words, you assume that Clay Aiken is so good that everyone should like him and if someone does not, that person is merely trashing him, thinks he/she is "too cool," is abusing his/her position as a writer for a newspaper, etc. Well, no. I personally don't like him simply because I think he's lame. I couldn't care less about making other people feel uncool, etc.

In any event, some of us are opinionated to the extent that we believe that using subjectivity as an excuse for questionable musical taste should only go so far. At some point, some things are simply just too lacking in artistic credibility and/or innovation to be overly nice about and/or tolerate. If you don't want your feelings hurt, don't read a publication that employs and is primarily aimed at those who make more of an effort to locate music/art which is of undeniably higher quality.

P.S. the amount of comments discussing Clay's clothes/hair is embarrassing. Who gives a rat's ass? It's supposed to be about the "music".

Jhyde53
Jhyde53

June, see Peachtree comments!!!!!!what I was trying to say. I am just not very articulate. Please someone who is lucky enough to get "meet and greet". ask him to look at current comments here and on Jan's site. I think he would understand. He is a very smart guy, or he wouldn't be where he is. Oh, I forgot ---all that talent helps. ha

Chapmanmm1
Chapmanmm1

saw this concert---not the Clay Aiken I remember from a few years ago--I did not like the slow, S-L-O-W. songs. He still has a magnificant voice, but where is the pep and runs, etc that he used to do? I went thinking I would hear him do OMWH-MOAM, and songs of today, not this. Maybe some of you loyal fans can convince him to go bsck to what he does best. He is still the good-looking entertainer, who has the best-ever voice. I never thought I would say "clay aiken is boring" but these songs are. Sorry Clay!!!still love your voice.

Peachtree Breyer
Peachtree Breyer

I really think it's a shame that people like this reviewer who have a negative view of Clay's talents have never been able to see some of his other shows, like the Jukebox Tour or his Comedy Christmas Tour. They were exciting, irreverent & not at all what most of the public would expect from him. His talents are so eclectic that every tour (9 already) has been vastly different from each other. This one seems to be very laid-back & kind of old-fashioned. So be it. But that's certainly not all he is. I challenge any naysayers to look up vids of his '50s rock-n-roll section of the '05 tour for starters (YouTube has tons). You will NOT believe it's the Clay you've always imagined. I love his pop/rock concerts. The crooning shows are clearly lovely to listen to, but I can understand why some would find it a bit mundane. As with most of his fans, I do hope he'll return to recording originals with a variety of genres represented as on his stellar ON MY WAY HERE album.

Jhyde532
Jhyde532

JUNE- I felt I had to come back here and say that I just the pics taken of clay aiken at Cobb Energy Centre and they are beautiful. He looks Great, sweater, hair and all. Guess I had been seeing wrong pics. Wow, maybe these need to be sent to every media outlet that keeps printing the worst ones they can find. Sorry June and Clay

JuneC
JuneC

No problem, jhyde532 -- nice of you to return with your comment -- I appreciate it. I think all his fans want is for him to sing and show us his funny/teasing side. He is a true entertainer in my book and well worth the price of admission to see him. I think his sweaters/jeans/shirt/tie fit what he is doing -- a laid back relaxed show with some great songs done expertly. I will be at his Charlotte, NC and Greenville, SC shows -- and already know they are not going to be enough. I wish the world could see and enjoy this man as his fans do -- and as many new fans are finding out.

Pete Vonder Haar
Pete Vonder Haar

Don't sweat it Neph, I'll take the David Archuleta concert.

Sashwort
Sashwort

Clay Aiken certainly has a beautiful voice. Just read this review. First time I had seen him----and, I don't understand all these comments---is there something I have missed--I did not know he was so controversial until now-I have been inquiring----guess I missed too many years to understand now. But, let me say that as a first time "clay aiken" concert goer----He can really sing and is a good looking man---maybe I will catch up on the other stuff later.

Gwp633
Gwp633

the sweater in Saratoga video is acceptable as a change during show!!!!!Just thought I would say that since we are discussing his sweaters---I do agree about the zippered ones. But his voice is wonderful!!!!!!! He is just singing the wrong songs!!!!!!!!!!

Jhyde53
Jhyde53

PS. look at "twit pix" of Clay on "The Idealidol--News and Artcles" websites. Adorable!!!!!!! Apparently someetimes he accidently dresses cute (old fashioned, but cute).....that is what I meant. He also looked fantastic in the Rueben/Clay concert in suit, no tie, (jacket on and off), Hair was much better in those pix as well. Thanks, Clay. Now lets not buy anymore sweater. I do love you and love your music. I am, however 32 years old and I don't like the old-man stuff. Sorry!

Jhyde53
Jhyde53

to June. I did not say his sweater didn't cost enough. I said it was ugly and how about some stylish jeans!!!!! I said his sweater LOOKED like it came from Goodwill. He cannot keep making it on just the same fans. He needs them BUT he needs some new ones as well, and this is not the way to get them. I feel that we can't just keep reciting his record sales of 7 years ago. The last 3 albums???? He need a good PR person, a stylist and a song writer. What is wrong with his manager???? head in sand. Clay is multi-talented, but I worry about him

TXBluebonnet
TXBluebonnet

Thanks for the review. I didn't see the tweets, but don't have a problem with you not wanting to see the show before going. Heck, I had to drag my husband to the show... he was sweet enough to cheerfully oblige, but not without complaints to a friend or two. It's okay people...really. The fact that this reviewer went in dreading the job, and came out with a mostly favorable review should say a lot, don't you think?

I've seen Clay many times in many venues, much earlier in his career. I[ve even met him a few times. That being said, I have not seen him since he was last in Houston about 3 years ago. I have to say, it was a nice trip down memory lane for me, and I liked seeing the spikey hair again. The laid back wardrobe was a non issue for me. Loved the humor/dialogue between songs. Same old Clay - he has such a great sense of humor. Lots of nostalgia for me with the old American Idol songs like "Build Me Up". and "Solitaire". My favorite new addition was the Beatles song, which touched my heart, given the memories it brought up for me. I really enjoyed seeing Clay again and he will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Back to the show... the obnoxious lady in the front row just didn't know when to stop... I thought it was funny that Clay totally called her out for taking the front row seat and exiling her mother to a more distant seat several rows back.

The audience was decidedly senior. I'm 39 and my husband is 40. We were amongst the small minority of "younger" people in attendance. My husband joked at all of the old lady perfume in the room as we took our seats, and he wasn't kidding. I have to agree with others - I would like to see Clay taking more risks with his music. He sings these classic songs beautifully, but like almost any artist in the music scene, he has to reinvent himself to stay current. The demographic of the audience does not, in my opinion, represent the wider demographic range he is capable of attracting. Houston audiences are by no means enthusiastic or receptive to artists by any stretch of the imagination. (I'm sure that it's the rare artist who looks forward to performing in Houston)... so this wasn't an easy crowd. They were respectful, if not someone lethargic (not too unusual for many concerts I've been to in Houston) but I was sad to see the number of empty seats in the room.

I will close with this... no review of any merit would fail to address areas for improvement and offer constructive criticism. Thanks again for the well thought out review.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Plenty of times I have dreaded going to a review a show, only to be pleasantly surprised. I have also gone into shows very excited, only to be disappointed by the act.

martha
martha

I think this is a good review overall, but I insist those tweets before and after the concert are really disappointing. That is my complaint, I wonder what the point was.

Luv
Luv

Neph, even if i can not appreciate your article here, about C.Aiken, i read and see U tried to do the best u could being where u really did not want to be. Just because it was not my cup of tea for a article ~ i like U saying... U can appreciate ALL music,... wish yah would have wrote the article that way, with that in your mind, and wrote it out that way too. Can not win um' all, just like each artist can not please them all !

.......knowing had nothing to do with pics, but hey, enjoyed seeing them !

LeatherMcWhip
LeatherMcWhip

3 times is a bit hard to keep tongue bitten. "Written"

Sue
Sue

Wow - I don't think this reviewer and I were at the same concert last night. But I do appreciate being called a "twenty-something in the first row!" I've seen Clay many times in concert and I have NEVER seen him discomfited or stiff on stage performing. I guess you might think because he wasn't gyrating or dancing frenetically that he was stiff and awkward? Au contraire! In fact he's never more comfortable than when he's on stage with a microphone in his hand singing! I think it's really sad when a member of the media goes into a situation already prejudiced and then works hard to validate that prejudice! OH - and announces before he or she even gets in the door that he/she doesn't want to be there! That's some great reporting - whoever you are!!!!

For myself - I flew from California to see the concert and enjoyed every minute of it. Clay is the ultimate performer - he has a full-ranged beautiful voice and great rapport with his audience (well, maybe with the exception of one or two media-types) And - by the way - just to further your lack of observation......he wasn't wearing "worn boots!" Us not-twenty-somethings in the front row could clearly see his shoes!!!

I realize reviewing concerts is a job, but it would seem to me that a good journalist or reporter goes into a job open-minded to truly get the best story.

JuneC
JuneC

I've already posted a comment but want to thank you for the slideshow of pictures -- good job by your photographer.

Clay's sweaters are new -- the grey with the pockets was $345 as someone looked it up after he wore it to the Broadway Backwards benefit. Too bad some can't see the difference. I would imagine traveling with a hair stylist would be pretty expensive -- as a fan of Clay and his amazing voice -- what possible difference does his hair make?

guest
guest

I love the casual, comfy look Clay has for this concert. The most important thing is his glorious voice and that doesn't need anything more than Clay just being Clay.

Lzcaplan
Lzcaplan

Actually I watched the video of Clay singing Solitaire, and right after he acknowleges the song choice not being good for Valentines Day, he says " thanks you guys for coming I appreciate it, drive home safe/safely". I guess the critic seemed to miss that , even though he heard the sentence right before that one-interesting! Obviously not a fan with his selective hearing!

Kay
Kay

For those who are so concerned about Clay's attire and the lack of "bells and whistles", this is to inform you that before the tour began, Clay asked the members of his fanclub what they wanted in the performance. Overwhelmingly, we voted for no big bands, bright lights, or fancy costumes. All we wanted was Clay being Clay. So you see, we fans love the tour and the simplicity. The voice and the man are all we need.

Jhyde53
Jhyde53

To KFC. He could afford a better pair of jeans, a hair stylist and if he is cold and needs a sweater, make it a jacket (not Mr Rogers thrown out sweaters) I have a hair stylist, therefore he could too. I don't buy the "keeping the tickets affordable". I wish I could send a stylist to him. I love him, his music and everything he does. The way he dresses most of the time, however, makes it hard for me to defend him to all the people who WANT to dislike him. It detracts from that unbelievable voice and handsome face.

Teeler45
Teeler45

Wow, at least a couple of fans who do not think it is being disloyal to say "his clothes and hair were awful" No excuse. I usually try hard to find only good things...... He is quite the entertainer, quite a sense of humor, and an AMAZING voice....but, if there is anyone out there who knows Clay personally, please tell him what a mistake he is making by looking like a homeless person who just got a sweater from Goodwill......... I agree with the fan who was so disappointed..I have been a big, big fan for years, but this is unacceptable. He is a hugh talent. maybe someone can get his attention

Mike
Mike

Clay Aiken has an amazing voice and his stage persona is very entertaining.

I thought Clay looked great and his choice of clothing just right. I mean, he has been saying all along that this is going to be a laid-back concert tour. It was not billed as a "formal" concert.

I am glad that you had the opportunity to hear Clay sing. Music is subjective. What one likes, another doesn't. However, I don't know of any musician or critic that has ever said he can't sing. The only people who say that are those who are trying to be "Cool."

Thanks again for the review. You were honest about your feelings, but I hope you didn't feel it was a waste of time. I thought it was awesome.

Gwp633
Gwp633

Everyone should not be mad at the reviewer-------Clay could show some respect---get dressed appropriately, get a real "grown-up haircut, act like he wants to be there.....and stop with all the old worn-out songs. I have always been a fan, mostly of his voice, but I am losing interest fast. I was disappointed, mostly in the way he was dressed, or should I say, embarassed, by the way he was dressed and the songs choices. I think he should rethink what made him popular years ago. It was NOT Moon River, an ugly sweater and hair that needed a stylist. I am sorry. I am having a hard time remaining a loyal fan. No doubt about that beautiful voice though.

Debbie
Debbie

I agree everyone has an opinion.. Clay Aiken is an entertainer. He's humorous, has a great stage presence, and definitely has a voice that is breathtakingly beautiful. Clay didn't deserve your poor rating. His closing song Solitaire was a welcomed closing surprise. I'm glad he was comfortable in his jeans instead of a stuffy suit.

Jan
Jan

Thanks for the review and loved the slideshow! You did get some great shots.Clay is quite the entertainer and loves to sing. From what I have read, he changes up the concert from night to night. So if you go tomorrow night - it would not be the exact set list as this show was. He does swap out a couple of songs.Oh, you may have missed this - but his "thank you" was his banter before "In My Life". That is one thing that Clay Aiken does not miss - is saying "thank you" to everyone for attending. He did change up last night - because Unchained Melody has been being the last song and he would come back for an encore of "In My Life" and "Solitaire". The only difference is he did not leave the stage last night after Unchained Melody.Thanks again for the slide show!

Pat
Pat

Thanks for the slideshow - made me feel like I was there!!

SGirl
SGirl

Neph, I understand Clay is not your cuppa and his music would not be your first choice to load into your ipod. Heck, it may not be your choice to load period, end of story, that's all she wrote. So, knowing all that, I thank you for the kind things you DID have to say. He's not everyone's taste but to those who "get" him, he's always delivered a wonderful mix of song and humour in his shows. His fans are enjoying this go around immensely.

Don't know if you'll ever take in another of his shows but this fan is appreciative that you bit the bullet and attended last night. And in the end had some rather nice things to say after all.

Neph Basedow
Neph Basedow

Thanks for noticing, SGirl. We're glad you enjoyed the show.

Antonia
Antonia

Thank you for the slideshow. Your photographer took some very nice photos.

The show was fun for me. To each his/her own. It was a nice romantic evening for me and my bf. Happy Valentines!

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

Yeah well, Claymates love getting angry for no apparent reason other than boredom. They are the Juggalos of American Idol fandom.

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/...

Luv
Luv

Not nice, and maybe thought U were descent person..

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

More pics from last night here:http://www.houstonpress.com/sl...

Reilly
Reilly

Thanks for the pictures, the photographer did a nice job. The captioning is interesting though. American Idol Contestant. Ooookay. That was 8 years ago. Since then he's sold six million albums and starred on Broadway. If you covered Justin Timberlake's concert, would you have captioned it Mousketeer? Or Usher as Star Search Contestant?

Mperin
Mperin

You are a writer?!! I don't think so! HAHAHAHAHA!!!! You don't even know the difference between the words "complementary" and "complimentary"!!! Wow, what a farce you are!

kfc
kfc

Yesterday, I spent hours reviewing clips from many of Clay's past tours..he's currently on his 9th tour..and it is clearly obvious how vocally talented he is. He has faced crowds in dozens and dozens of American cities and has never once exhibited a trace of 'pique' or 'diva-like' behavior; rather, he has been exceedingly humourous and lenient in allowing his fans to 'share' his concerts with those who could not attend. Am willing to bet that not ONE major/minor rock act allows their fans to do that.

The reviewer should have stayed home and allowed a true lover of classic selections...and Clay Aiken...to write this column. There are also hundreds of far better pictures of Clay out there and the reviewer chose two that she knew would disparage him. Sad!

I do agree, though, that Clay should make more of an effort to wear a much more appropriate wardrobe and to change his clothes a number of times during his concerts. A major tour is the best exposure he can get for the money spent and he's wasting a good opportunity to further his career...IMHO. He needs a good wardrobe manager and hair stylist on this tour; that said, he's probably trying to keep these latest concerts affordable for his fans by not doing so ...and we should commend him for that.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

The reviewer does not choose the photos.

Our photographer was assigned by Aiken's people to shoot from an area that was quite far from the stage. Therefore, it was a challenge to get "good" photos. A slideshow is forthcoming, and you'll be able to see for yourself how all the photos looked.

TaylorHicksRules
TaylorHicksRules

kfc said, "career". Now that's funny!

Ariel
Ariel

what is really funny is your user name and your comments! seriously!

Rasputin
Rasputin

Did your editor have it out for you in making you attend?That show sounds so dated and I'm wincing at the pain of the mere thought of actually having to sit through that - and on Valentine's Day, no less. You should ask your editor "where is the love?" Mad props to you for taking the bullet and enduring my man.

Clay4everFan
Clay4everFan

Clay Aiken was last night!!?? Dang, I can't believe I missed it. And the set-list was so, um, I'm lost for words. He's not original nor is he any better than the best karaoke singer in your local bar. The reviewer was kind beyond words. As far as tweeting she rather not be going, that sums it up for about 99.9 of the population.

Ariel
Ariel

I'm confused does your user name really say Clay4everfan and you just wrote that he is no better than the best karaoke singer in a local bar? Looks like someone hijacked your account and is posting as you. lol

Luv
Luv

Your article is not really wrote with a attitude anyone can appreciate. You really should not have atteneded the show and let someone that could sum up a concert do it. Someone that appreciates a style only Clay Aiken can pull off and do right. One many ppl enjoy and love.

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

That's not how music journalism works. Rocks Off isn't a Clay Aiken Fan Blog.

Luv
Luv

No one said it was a Clay blog, i truly know that, but thanks for the concern. Just appreciate a well written music review . Do not see that here.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I do not like this idea that only people who "like" the artist are qualified to review the show.

martha
martha

Of course not, a reviewer does not have to "like" the artist who is being reviewed. But in my opinion those tweets complaining about having to go to the concert were very unprofessional and inappropriate.

Luv
Luv

Did not say U have to like a artist, but why go to a concert if U can not be open minded. And even say ~before U r there ~ U do not want to be and would like to be anywhere else, right there, the attitude is taking over any clear thoughts others can appreciate. Gives any reader a wonder why they should hear anything to be said by the author at all. Write a article and be a good journalist. Do it right or not at all!Pics are nice.

genlovesclaysvoice
genlovesclaysvoice

i don't think you have to like an entertainer necessarily to write a review but you should not dislike the artist either. Many people who do tours don't wear suits. I thought he looked just fine. He had on a dress shirt tie and georgeous sweater and i thought the jeans were sexy. He is a simple man who happens to be extremely talented and sings so powerfully that it goes right through you. I loved all the songs but solitaire was absolutly beautiful. He was gifted that song in 2003 by the writer Neil Sedaka because he said he sang it so beautifully. I thought your research of Clay was poorly done and he never leaves a performance without saying thank you for coming and gives you that beautiful warm smile that only he can.

genslovesclaysvoice
genslovesclaysvoice

PS maybe because you really didn't want to be there, you didn't pay attention.

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