By Janelle Landauer

The sixth season of American Idol may have come to an end earlier this summer, but the tour is just heating up now.  On August 3, 2007, the Idols made a stop in Omaha, Nebraska for a show at the Qwest Center.  Before the actual show started, huge monitor screens by the stage were playing videos from former contestants including Daughtry and Carrie Underwood.  The screens also included tons of trivia questions and video clips on the contestants from this seasons top 10 finalists.

The show started just after 7 p.m. when the cameras focused in on a "stage hand" help guy who was supposedly going to flip a huge switch that would dim the lights - and ultimately start the show.  The stage hand guy was none other than runner-up Blake Lewis all disguised.  The disguises came off and contestants started coming out from every direction while winner Jordin Sparks rose up from underneath the stage.  "Let's Get It Started" was the opening track sang by all of the top 10 finalists, and although the song was not one of the favorites from the night, the song set the mood for a very energetic night filled with a whole lot of music. The more than 2 ½ hour show featured several duets and group numbers, a few solo performances and of course - a broader range of songs from Blake Lewis and "your American Idol" - Jordin Sparks. 

Blake Lewis is definitely the "entertainer" in the bunch getting the crowd fired up.  Lewis' beat-boxing is so unique and it's easy to point out that nothing like Lewis has ever came from the American Idol show before.  Lewis performed the crowd favorite - "You Give Love A Bad Name" plus a smashing "loop pedal board" and guitar rendition of "She Will Be Loved."  Basically, the loop boards record when he wants them to - and then he can overlap other vocal and guitar parts or beats throughout the performance from earlier takes.  Lewis started by beat-boxing the background beats which led the way for the entire song.  No doubt, it was neat to see Lewis back in his true beat-boxing and performing element and really just having a great time.

One of the show-stoppers occurred when Chris Richardson came out and joined Lewis for a few songs.  Richardson showed off his beat-boxing skills too (who would have known, right?)...  You couldn't ask for a better dual match of beat-boxing than with those two.  Richardson's vocals have improved so much already compared to when he was first on the show.  Richardson and Jordin Sparks also put their own flavor on the country smash hit - "What Hurts The Most" by Rascal Flatts.  The entire show featured an array of music genres and that's one of the main reasons why American Idol has probably had so much success in so many different genres.

Another highlight from the night was when Phil Stacey paid tribute to America - singing "America The Beautiful" while wearing his Navy suit.  Stacey, a member of the Navy, was backed by LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Haley Scarnato and Gina Glocksen for this tribute.  Stacey seems to have the strongest vocals from all the guys.  Lewis is the entertainer; Richardson is the all-around artist; Chris Sligh is a great musician; And, Sanjaya Malakar?  Who knows where to place him.

Stacey and Gina Glocksen nailed their performance, vocally of "It's Your Love" - another country tune originally recorded by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.  Glocksen was trying so hard not to crack up at the end of the song and couldn't even finish it, but they both still sang it amazingly.  Stacey could easily have a career in country music if that is the direction he decides to take although he might find that following in Chris Daughtry's "rock" footsteps might suit him better for his career too.  Stacey's other fan favorite performance was "Blaze Of Glory" - the Bon Jovi track that he performed on American Idol.

The guys of this seasons Idol also formed the first "band" from the show.  Chris Richardson played drums, Phil Stacey was on the keys while Sanjaya Malakar, Chris Sligh, Blake Lewis showed off their skills on guitar.  All five switched lead and backing vocals and showcased that they are all musicians as well as singers.  Some of the other top performances from the show included Melinda Doolittle's version of "Natural Woman," and LaKisha Jones' take on the Whitney Houston powerhouse song  "I Will Always Love You."

Jordin Sparks sang several songs to close the show including her single "This Is My Now."  Other songs included "A Broken Wing," 'I Who Have Nothing," "Heartbreaker," "Living On A Prayer," and "You Were Meant For Me."  On "You Were Meant For Me," Sparks took center stage playing the song acoustically - just letting her vocals shine.  She has a huge vocal range, strong vocals and the total package.

In the midst of all the music and performances, there was a 15-20 minute intermission - which was quite weird for a concert but understandable considering the amount of work it takes to put this entire show together.  There were multiple costume changes, several different entrance spots on the stage and people were coming and going all the time.

Overall, the show was very complete and entertaining and gave fans a huge variety of hits from several different genres of music.  There were so many talented artists' on this season that it's hard to choose just "one" who will most likely succeed.  I really think that this season just might have the most success, as far as the number of contestants who go on to succeed with their music careers. You couldn't have picked a better American Idol lineup (despite a few) for this season and tour, so it'll be interesting to see if this season goes on and does as well as they could considering the amount of talent there.  For more information on American Idol or the American Idol Tour, visit
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August 16, 2007