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Following the Idols to San Diego

At the aging San Diego Sports Arena, the crowd at the second show was perceptibly younger than the firmly middle-aged audience in the premiere show in Glendale, Ariz. The difference was immediately noticed by the performers as they made their way backstage after their sets.Although somewhat bleary from the first night’s journey, the performers seemed to get a fresh burst of adrenaline from the crowd. First up, Chikezie, who came backstage soaking wet from his energetic set but smiling broadly at how it had gone.

Some moments from the night:

Michael Johns introducing “Dream On”: “This song got me kicked off the show, but I’ve been told by the authorities it won’t get me kicked off the tour.”

Kristy Lee Cook seems to make a tradition of throwing T-shirts to the crowd, a country-friendly gesture that sets off a mad scramble. Also her rendition of “God Bless the USA” seems to provoke different responses. In Arizona, the crowd was instantly on its feet. In San Diego, the room stayed mostly seated, although a sizable percentage of the room could be seen mouthing the words along with her.

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Kristy seems more comfortable in the rocking country mode than either of her “Idol” country chanteuse predecessors, Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler. One can see her in a duet with Bo Bice much more naturally than either of the others.

Massive huge explosion of applause for hometown girl Carly Smithson, although she later says that because of the monitor in her ear she was unable to hear the noise except what came through her mike, which she kept extending to try to make it out. “Do you know how awesome this feels?” she asked the crowd.

Once again, and especially on home turf, the set of the greatest performer in “Idol” history was, simply, electrifying.

Carly’s introduction of the next singer: “She tans worse than I do. Her name is Brooke White. And if she makes a mistake in her song, she’ll start it again for you!”

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Jason Castro’s fan base is the most clearly identifiable, with hippies in tie-dye dotting the auditorium.

Most introduce themselves by their dreadhead number, given in the order of their registering at the Castro fan site. “I’m dreadhead No. 3052" is a typical hello.

The scream for David Archuleta’s set was once again deafening. Young girls, in tears, hopped up and down. And once again, one can see the young man who can be so awkward grow into the most confident, self-assured human being on the planet when he sings before a crowd of thousands.

On my second listening, David Cook’s set is truly great. All the nights that he brought the Idol-dome to a standstill are relived.

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Backstage after the show, Kristy reported that there were thousands of people standing outside the bus parking area waiting to see them get on board.

Carly said that the night before, when a similar crowd was arrayed, Kristy impishly ran in and out of the bus to provoke the tidal wave of screams every time she came into view. Tonight, she tried to egg Carly into joining her.

And then, finally, it was on board again and on to Fresno. Two cities down, many to go!

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