Former "American Idol" contestant Elliott Yamin worked the crowd, soulfully singing a mixture of pop, rock and jazz Saturday night at the Majestic Theatre. A surprisingly older crowd attended the show, including many mother-daughter pairs excited to see their favorite American Idol in a concert atmosphere instead of from their couch. During an hour-long set, Yamin proved his strength as a vocalist and showed the audience that there is life beyond "Idol."
Opening acts included Josh Hoge and boy-band-with-instruments The Last Goodnight, whose music has been featured on MTV's "The Hills." These mediocre musicians with trendy haircuts played their singles "Pictures of You" and "Poison Kiss," and their entire set included only one guitar solo. Consequently, Yamin's performance far exceeded expectations set by his opening acts.
Elliott Yamin became a household name after becoming the third-place finalist during Season 5 of "American Idol," where he received the highest praise from the judges but lost to the gray-haired Taylor Hicks. However, this fluke did not put a damper on Yamin's success. Shortly after his stint on "American Idol," he signed a contract with Hickory Records, and his eponymously titled first album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
On Saturday, however, Yamin attempted to shake his reputation as simply another American Idol. Small in stature, his presence was magnified by his enormous voice. He opened his set with the jazzy rock song "Alright," which used mostly percussion and synthesizer, but immediately showcased his vocal talent. Following this tune were several less interesting songs, including "Find A Way," which he dedicated to the military.
The more upbeat "In Love With You Forever," was the first in a series of songs with cocky, overconfident lyrics, including the unoriginally titled "I'm The Man." He seems like a nice enough guy, so it's safe to assume that his songwriters' lyrics are to blame for the fact that his lyrics make him sound like a frat boy.
One of the best songs of the set was the autobiographical "Free," which seems to be about his experiences as an up-and-comer in the music business and has a more positive and universal message (Hold fast to your dreams/ and don't be afraid to fly). Another highlight was the first song Yamin wrote himself, a slow, soulful ballad called "Trainwreck."
Yamin took a short break from the set to announce that 100 percent of the proceeds from several of his merchandise items would go to charity. He has recently done charity work for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, since he was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager.
After several cries of, "Elliott Rocks!" Yamin conceeded to the crowd and played the first single from his album, "Wait For You." A catchy ballad with a hip-hop beat, this song is an obvious radio hit, but overly masculine lyrics again detracted from the strength of the song. His radio-friendly new single "One Word" followed. Overall, the heavier, jazzier songs were the better ones of the set.
For an encore, Yamin showed his incredible vocal talent with his performance of his "American Idol" audition song, a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song For You."
Clichéd lyrics aside, it is quite apparent that Elliott Yamin is an extremely talented vocalist. He often stopped to scat during songs, and his voice oscillated between notes with ease. Yamin's dexterous vocal ability and its rich quality are overwhelmingly impressive.
In last week's interview with The Badger Herald, Yamin promised to deliver "raw, gritty soul." Unfortunately, his most gritty song of the set was his radio hit, "Wait For You." Yet, there is no denying the fact that he's got soul. From the first note, Elliott Yamin's tremendous tenor makes one wonder why America voted for Taylor Hicks.