|Cincinnati Music Hall is filled with the sights and sounds of "Christmastime" by Clay Aiken during his stop in Cincinnati,Ohio Nov. 26th on The Joyful Noise 2005 Tour|
|staff writer: Teresa Nichols|
|I know about the concept of "Claymates,"---fans of singer Clay Aiken. If being a fan of Clay means you are a Claymate then you must include me. The very first concert I ever went to was a Clay show at The N.C. State Fair last year in Raleigh,N.C. I practically wore out his "Measure of a Man," CD and his "Merry Christmas with Love," CD is presently playing in my house.
Yes, I'm a geek--Shut Up
Aiken inspires feverish, almost rabid devotion among legions of young, middle-aged and senior women and men(that follow their women). Let's face it, Claymates are not to be messed with.
The crowd was dressed in their Sunday best, and just before the show started, we all listened to Clay's request to "NOT FLASH." People -this is a reasonable request from a man that gives so much. I had my photo taken before the show and saw spots for what seemed like forever. I honored his request as did most of his true fans.
Dressed in an extremely smart white suit, Clay warmed the crowd and our hearts with a show full of beautiful holiday music and vignettes. Clay was clearly here to spread a very special message: " Not only is "Joyful Noise" dedicated to God for all the blessings that he has given me, but it's dedicated to each of you for being those blessings. I make this "Joyful Noise" for you."
This comes from the heart of a very special person. Clay, thank you so much for all the joy you bring us. This show was nothing short of spectacular. It was also written and produced by Clay himself. He continues to surprise and amaze us. We will eagerly await to see what he does next, while collecting more clack.
A night of amazing holiday music opened with Warner recording artist: William Joseph. His first piece was "Carol of the Bells." He is an incredible pianist. He has a fresh, dynamic sound that kept me on the edge of my seat. We were next treated to " Within," from his CD released in 2004 which is titled "Within." It is clear, precise and flows from a classical unique eloquent sound to a full new age excitement. He also included, "Grace," "Homeward Bound," which is Clay's favorite off the album and "Ausperius," which is off of his upcoming album. William is an extraordinary young piano virtuoso. I see nothing but bright stars in his future.
I think of snow, cold, fireplaces, giving gifts, making people feel good, family, and love thanks to Clay and The Joyful Noise 2 Show. Clay was in fine form. He looks and sounds great, has a friendly, self-depreciating stage presence and knows how to work a crowd into a frenzy. Although, with this crowd he probably could have done that by just standing there, which he did for small parts of the vignettes.
He opened with "Christmastime," which was truly uplifting, receiving that special Clay Aiken treatment. He looked very handsome dressed in his white suit, he had no problem heating things up. Additionally keeping the crowd of fans warm were such joyful holiday tunes -"Merry Christmas With Love," "Sleigh Ride," "Jingle Bells," and "Season for Romance." He was joined on stage by many superb performers to give us a feel of watching a holiday Christmas special, and special it was.
Throughout the first half of the show, we were treated to vignettes (which included the brillent talent of: Alison Lawrence -Clay's High School Choir Teacher which you can read about on page 101 of Aiken's book, Learning to Sing: Hearing the music in your life and Gregory Ravary Ellis who is a sixth grader at Magellan Charter School in Raleigh, N.C.).It was very magical to watch Clay start and stop these fine performers with the wave of his hand. I feel I was actually drawn into the play and became eager to see what was going to happen next. My favorite scene had to be the lines Gregory spoke involving coming in 2nd. Now, who do we know that should have come in first, but came in second?
Other holiday songs included, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Christmas Waltz," "Silver Bells," "The Christmas Song," and a duet with Angela Fisher -"I Miss U Most at Christmas Time. This song brought me to tears, reminding me of how much I miss my Dad, who died 4 years ago, especially at Christmastime.
The 1st half of the show closed with Clay, Quiana, and Angela singing "Celebrate Me Home." They interacted with the vignette, putting everyone in the Christmas mood. This was followed by about a 20 minute intermission.
The 2nd half contained traditional carols to create a glowing atmosphere of vocal warmth and buoyancy.I am so disappointed to admit that I reviewed the rest of the show via a tape. It was necessary I leave early to complete packing for a business trip to Raleigh. Like Clay, I want to move back home, and it required I leave very early Sunday morning.
It opened with "O Holy Night," a beautiful Christmas classic, followed by "The First Noel." The set gave us the feel of being in church for a very special Christmas program. Gregory reads to us, followed by the angelic voice of Clay who was accompanied by Angela and Quiana. Flawless and beautifully executed, it was simply incredible. His voice seemed to flow, reaching those notes that sent chills down my spine. Clay, did I hear you say "Wooo," at the end of this number?
"Hark The Hearld Angels Sing," and "O Come All Ye Faithful" followed. We listened to a reading from Gregory and then the spotlight hit Clay and he preceeded to grab our hearts and execute a flawless rendition of "O Come O Come Emmanuel, " that could only be pulled off by Clay. You could almost see a bright light shining down from heaven on him.
Gregory briefly read again and Clay went into "Mary Did You Know," as the light continued to shine down on Clay who again was accompanied by the extraordinary talents of Quiana and Angela. Beautiful, Beautiful job.
Quiana, a true talent in her own right, treated the fans to, "My Grown Up Christmas Wish." Again, chills were sent down my spine. She gives a dramatic, gospel-inspired vocal performance that made this old classic sound fresh.
The crowd was very pleased and well-behaved, much calmer than the crowds on his solo tours. This is what Clay wanted, and his fans will do whatever it takes to fulfill Clay's wishes.
Clay reserved a special time to include introductions and a little banter. He thanked everyone for being part of his family and preceded to introduce the members of the band. He reminded everyone that they could pick up a copy of William Joseph's new CD "Within," in the lobby. He also informed us that the character of Beverly played by Alison Lawrence became the character from "Merry Christmas With Love." A huge part of the cast for this show in Cincinnati are part of The Cincinnati Music Theater and he encouraged us to support them. Our challenge from Clay for 2006 is to tell people how much we care. Excellent challenge as it seems today, most people get caught up in their lives and forget to tell one another they care. I will start---"Clay, I care (The list of people I do care about is too long to mention, but I will be letting them know).
The show closed with my favorite Clay Christmas song, "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day." Incredible performance, it seems he can hold a note for an eternity and it stays with you, long after the show ends.
Angela and Quiana begin the very last song, "Good News," and you see Clay come out from behind the curtain dressed in his very sharp black suit (long coat tails looked very dashing). The crowd just loved it.
If you have not seen this show, I suggest you hurry to get your ticket.
This show is Good News.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
See Joyful Noise 2 Photos....Here