Last Wednesday, hours before the Top 11 from American Idol season 10 took the stage at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the more unique and interesting voices from this past season.
Cool, calm, and collected, 26-year-old Paul McDonald from Nashville, spoke candidly about the American Idols Live! Tour, including which contestant fell victim to the first tour prank of the summer, and working on his solo music while out on the road.
How has the tour been going?
It’s been excellent so far. We’re only like, I think, five shows in, and we got about a thousand more to go. [laughs] We go through September, and we do a handful of Canada dates, maybe one or two. Then they take us over to the Philippines.
Wow, I’m pretty sure that’s a first with taking the tour overseas. What has been the most fulfilling part of the tour for you so far?
Oh goodness. I guess it’s just the whole vibe of pretending that we’re real rock stars for the summer. We’re singing karaoke and stuff, but the production is like a huge tour. We have six buses, six semis, we have catering, we have the whole VIP kind of like a very pro tour. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, unless you’re the Rolling Stones, or Bruce Springsteen, or Carrie Underwood, or one of those, you know? So, it’s kind of cool to be in that for just a little bit and see how this grand scale of venues and touring works. It’s cool.
Do you have any kind of fun bus stories from the tour so far?
Fun bus stories? Oh gosh, I’m trying to think. We really don’t hang out on the bus too much, because they literally have us working from [about] noon. This morning I got up at like eight-thirty, we went to the Ronald McDonald House, me and Casey. We did some charity, we hung out with the kids, came back and had hair and make-up, which I don’t do any of that stuff. After that we have lunch, and then we have sound check. We go from normally from 12 noon to 12 at night. The only bus time is after the gig we go in there and like have a drink and pass out, but there has been a good story.
The first gig in Salt Lake City, Jacob Lusk decided to take a shower in the locker room — we’re playing all these big basketball arenas and stuff — and I was like, “Let me show you how it’s done fellas.” This is like “Band Pranks 101.” I got the bucket of ice, and all of us, Scotty and everybody, filled it up with ice-cold water. Jacob’s in the shower singing, you know, doing his thing. We walked in there and Casey’s filming it, and came in and just busted him with an ice cold bucket of water, and he was like, “Ahhhhh!” I was like, day one, the tour pranks begin.
This week the American Idols Live! tour rolled through San Jose, CA to the delight of the masses who showed up to see one particular Santa Cruz native by the name of James Durbin. Just the mere mention of his name at the top of the show by season 10 runner-up, Lauren Alaina, resulted in an eruption of cheers from the crowd.
And I must say that Durbin didn’t disappoint. He appeared in a couple group numbers during the first half of the show, but it was his entrance for his two-song set that had the audience at the HP Pavilion on its feet.
Entering from the back of the building wearing a San Jose Sharks jersey, singing Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’Mine,” Durbin shook hands as he made his way up to the stage. Towards the end of the song he held his microphone out to the audience and, without any real prodding, they sang the chorus back to him. I have to hand it to Durbin. He’s charismatic, has great stage presence, and absolutely relished every moment of his solo performance, wherein he took the time to thank the fans for voting for him and for the overall support he received from the Bay Area.
But Durbin wasn’t the only Idol who amped up the crowd. Paul McDonald got the people on their feet in the first half of the show during his lively performance of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” Naima Adedapo’s rousing rendition of Jennifer Lopez’s current hit, “On The Floor,” complete with an African dance break, was one of the most well-received performances of the night.