Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lee DeWyze at Arlington Park, 5/14/10

Yesterday American Idol contestant Lee DeWyze returned home to Mount Prospect and the Chicago-area for a day packed with interviews, appearances, and performances. The grand finale of the day was a mini-concert set to begin at 6:30 PM at Arlington Park. Tickets for the free concert were gone in 12 minutes on Wednesday night, after Lee was announced as making the Top 3, and all of the race day tickets were also snatched up. While I was disappointed I was not able to get any of the concert tickets online, I later found out that general admission tickets to the track were still available for $6. This was an awesome surprise yesterday morning when I read about the tickets the newspaper and I was able to buy a few before they also disappeared.

Race times were moved up to 1 PM to make time for the concert and many Lee fans filled the stands watching the races as they counted down till Lee's arrival. Around 7 PM we started to hear screaming in a corner of the stands; Lee was making his way through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards (he was preceded by a bagpipe player!). Before Lee sang he spoke to the crowd a little; he was very overwhelmed by all the fans who came out to see him. Mayor of Mount Prospect Irvana Wilks also said some words before giving him the key to the city and proclaiming May 14 to be Lee DeWyze Day.

Fans try to catch a glimpse of Lee DeWyze as he makes his way through the crowd at Arlington Park. He was 3 feet away from me, but I couldn't see anything!

Originally scheduled to sing only three songs, Lee ended up singing ten in total during his acoustic set on a small stage in front of the Winner's Circle. One of the first things Lee told the crowd was that he was going to sing more than three. He kicked off his set with Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," which he said is a song he would like to perform on the show. He followed that with an original song. Next was Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," much to the delight of all the fans who sang along, which he performed during one of the semifinal rounds. Lee also sang "Walk Away" by Ben Harper before going into "The Boxer," one of his best performances on the show to date. At times he had trouble singing the lyrics because of how overcome he was with emotion (either that, or he forgot the words). Lee followed that with a cover of Dave Matthews Band "Crash Into Me," requested by his brother. He then went into another original song. Unfortunately I don't know the title, but he infused the lyrics with an intensity that I haven't seen him do on any song on American Idol. He really let loose while singing it. He introduced the next song, "Holiday in Spain" by Counting Crows, as being one of his favorites. At one point he jokingly began to sing Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," which he sang for this past week's songs of the movies theme and received negative feedback from the judges. Throughout his set Lee had fun with the crowd and even asked, "Am I smiling enough?" to reference a criticism he has received on the show about being too serious. Several times throughout the night he commented that he was told he had to leave, but he stayed up there to keep playing.
Lee started to sing "Hey, Jude" and then stopped to ask the audience to clap together during the song. After he got a few lines into the song with everyone clapping along Lee had to stop singing and moved to the side of the stage with his head in his hands because again became very emotional. He said that while he's been out in California he hadn't realized the extent of his support back home; over 41,000 people were in attendance at the concert last night. Lee ended the concert with a performance of "Stay," another of his original songs. Completing his set, he threw his guitar strap into the crowd, but even then he wasn't done; he came back on stage to wish everyone a good night.

I think the concert last night at Arlington Park was Lee at best. He was relaxed while singing and really let go, especially while singing his original songs. I loved his response to the crowd's support. He wanted to keep singing songs no matter what the American Idol handlers (or whoever they were) told him. I thought it was a possibility that he was going to have to be dragged off the stage! Lee told the crowd that when he goes back to California and performs at the next live show he will be thinking of everyone supporting him back home. I had an awesome time at the concert and definitely look forward to seeing the footage of Lee's hometown welcome on American Idol next week.

Images from Lee DeWyze Day (from the Daily Herald)

Do you want your own neon yellow "Vote 4 Lee" t-shirt or a blue "BELEEVE" shirt? Check out Where to buy Lee DeWyze merchandise for Mount Prospect businesses that sell Lee paraphernalia!