Saturday, May 15, 2010

lee fever

I've been watching American Idol for about 4 years now. At first, George made fun of me. But last year, both George and Nick watched some of the episodes with me, and this year all 3 of us have watched every episode. (Ben watches sometimes, too.)

In January, at my Circle meeting at church, one of my friends announced to the group that she knew one of the contestants, Lee DeWyze, who is from Mt. Prospect, IL (right next to Arlington Heights, where we used to live and where we still attend church). She told us he's a really nice guy with a really great voice. Well, she was right. We've been rooting for Lee ever since! (The 3 of us also like Crystal Bowersox.)

Last week, I mentioned that if Lee were to make it into the Top 3, he would be coming back to the area for a "Homecoming" trip this week, and that he'd probably have a concert in Mt. Prospect. We all agreed that it would be cool to go and see him. This Tuesday, I heard that, if he made it, he'd be performing at Arlington Park racetrack. We watched Idol with baited breath on Wednesday night, to see if Lee was in the Top 3. As soon as Ryan Secrest announced that Lee had made it through, I ran to the computer to see if I could get some of the free tickets to the concert. I was able to get 4 of them (Emm doesn't watch AI, and had other plans, anyway) before they quickly sold out. We were very excited!

Nick, Ben, and I headed up to Arlington Heights around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Our tickets allowed us to get into the racetrack at 4pm. It's been many years since we've visited the racetrack (and Ben has never been there), so we walked around a bit to see some of the horses and other things:

We ate an early supper and then headed out to the general admission area, which was already a zoo! We managed to claim a spot right down near the front, where we could sit on the concrete steps. (All of the benches were already taken.) The crowd was a sea of mostly neon yellow shirts that said "Vote 4 Lee" on the front and "Lee is DeWyze Choice" on the back. There were also some bright blue shirts that simply said, "BeLEEve".
We watched the last horse race of the evening, and then got out our We Love Lee sign. (Not original, I know.):

Soon, this camera started taking sweeping shots of the crowd (which ended up being over 41,000 people!):
The boys, hoping to get on tv, LOL:
Then we waited. And waited. And waited. (Good thing we'd brought along books for Ben and paper for tic tac toe, etc.!) George arrived via train from the city around 6, but we never did find each other in the crowd. (He ended up getting a better view, somehow, but he also didn't have 2 kids with him, and didn't need to find a place where they could sit.)
Around 6:30 or so, Lee emerged from his dressing room, and the crowd went wild! He's the one in red here (boy, I wish I had a telephoto lens!): He waved to the crowd several times before disappearing again. Sometime around 7pm, they finally brought Lee down to the stage, with several security guys around him to help him get through all those people. George says they passed right in front of him! Lee greeted the cheering crowd, and then a few officials made some speeches and gave Lee a key to the city. Then, finally, he started singing!
Nick and I could not see him very well from where we stood, but we could hear him, and we could watch what was happening on various screens:
Lee became emotional several times, overwhelmed by the huge number of people there, just to see him. He sang about 10 songs, despite the fact that he was only supposed to play 3, and people from the show kept telling him to wrap it up. I found this video online, of Lee singing "The Boxer": . He also sang "Lips of an Angel", "Crash Into Me", snippets of a few songs (like "Hey Jude"), some songs he wrote himself, and a few others that I didn't recognize.

Towards the end, enough people had moved from their spots that Nick and I had a clear view of him (Lee is the one just the the right of the black rectangle in the middle.):
I think if Lee'd had the choice, he would've played for much longer, LOL. He kept saying that he didn't want to leave. As we headed back to the car, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset:

We had to wait forever for George to find us and the car, but we finally made it home around 9pm, full of fun memories. :)


Blogger Jodie said...

Great day Janelle! How exciting that you got to see him and hear him perform live!

May 16, 2010 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fun experience!


May 16, 2010 1:23 PM  

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