Friday, September 10, 2010

Reviews & Videos of Casey James' American Idol Live Tour Performances

I know the saying is idle hands are the devil's playground, but in my case idle Idol hands are an excuse to come up with another blog post about Casey James.  This post is designed to remind Casey's fans that we were right all along and to demostrate how, at venue after venue, when people are exposed to Casey's singing and playing they become fans as well.  It's really as simple as that. 

So, I've put together the reviews of Casey's all-too-brief set during the American Idol Live Tour 2010.  While I am exhausted having put this together, I would not call it exhaustive as I'm sure I'm missing some reviews.  I would greatly appreciate the help of my intrepid readers to alert me to any reviews I've omitted. 

For now, I'm leaving out reviews of concert-goers/general fans.  They're important, since they're the ones who actually shell out their money to attend concerts and buy records, but I wanted to start with more "unbiased" (for the most part) professional reviews.

I'm also including at least one video from each stop along the tour (except Pittsburgh and Cincinnati which have no video of Casey that I have been able to locate). For the first show, the last show, and a couple in between, I'm providing the full set. Enjoy!!

Auburn Hills, MI

USA Today/Idol Chatter
By Brian Mansfield
Four Songs, Five Guitars
The noise ratchets up another notch when Casey James takes the stage -- not just because more of the audience jumps to its feet, but because Casey kicks off his set with a blues-rocking version of the Black Keys' I Got Mine geared to let the crowd know just how much they missed on American Idol by not getting him to play guitar more.

Given the freedom of a full song -- and the solos that come with it -- Casey's more animated tonight than he ever was on the show. It's almost as if everything he couldn't do on the show is coming out at once in a flurry of notes, as Casey bends his guitar neck and tortures the strings.

Casey trades in his electric guitar for an acoustic on Shania Twain's Don't! but he switches it out for a second electric in time for the solo.

Afterwards, Casey says, "I want to invite a good friend of mine back up on the stage right now -- Mr. Mike Lynche." Mike comes back out to do Bryan Adams' Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman with the same black acoustic that he used during his set, but Casey has yet another acoustic -- that's four guitars for three songs, for those of you keeping score at home. Around the hall, the cellphones and glo-sticks begin to sway.

After Mike leaves the stage, Casey launches into a scorching version of It's All Over Now, the old R&B hit done by everybody from the Rolling Stones to The Valentinos. It's got a much sharper edge than it did on the show, especially with Casey's slide-guitar licks. And, yes, he's playing yet another guitar. He changes guitars the way Carrie Underwood changes costumes.
In a later article, Brian Mansfield added: 
Turns out Casey James doesn't play five guitars on four songs. He plays six guitars on five songs, since he also plays on the American Idols Live show's finale, a cover of Bon Jovi's It's My Life.

Here's the rundown:

•a 1983 blue Fender Stratocaster for I Got Mine;
•a Paul Reed Smith acoustic and a white Fender Stratocaster for Don't!;
•a Gibson nylon-string guitar for Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman;
•a PRS Starla for It's All Over Now;
•and a PRS 513 for It's My Life.

Why does he need six guitars for five songs? "Because they all sound different," Casey said afterwards. "Big time. Like night and day."

And for seriously gearheaded Casey James fans, apparently he uses Dunlop Tortex .88 mm guitar picks. Because I think he hit me on the shoulder with one when he threw it from the stage, and it landed in my shirt pocket. I say "apparently" because I didn't actually see him throw it, and I didn't find the pick until I got back to my hotel room -- though I did spend a while after the show helping the people next to me look for it.
By Gary Graff
Casey James, meanwhile, played guitar hero on a searing romp through the Black Keys' "I Got Mine."
Milwaukee, WI

Journal Sentinel
By Eric Ernst
Casey James' vocals were spot-on, but it was his fast and loose slide guitar on a bluesy "It's all Over Now" that really shone.
Grand Rapids, MI
By Lorilee Craker
Casey James, of course, went 90 miles an hour in the opposite direction, employing four or five guitars and shredding the daylights out of "I Got Mine" by the Black Keys and “It's All Over Now” by The Rolling Stones. He sold the song “Don't!” by Shania Twain as a sweet, bluesy ballad. He’s a stellar guitar player, with a lovely voice, despite the cold he was fighting.

Hamilton, ON

SJ Christian Flamethrower Blog
By Scott Jackson
The highlight of the show was Casey James. His soloing on guitar is far better than I picked up from the TV series and he seemed to be directing the band, rather than the band directing the singers. I think of all the performers, Casey is it. He handles himself well in interviews and he can rock out like you’d expect at a concert. He’s a good package. That was the only part of the show I liked.
Jones Beach, NY

New York Times
by Ben Ratliff
Casey James ... proved up and down (particularly on the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine”) that he could play the electric guitar close to the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan....
Bridgeport, CT

Atlantic City, NJ

Press of Atlantic City            
By Rob Spahr
Making the guitar look like a toddler’s toy, Casey James and his flowing-blond locks brought the crowd to its feet with dazzling songs such as the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine,” a duet of Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” with Lynche and the cover of “Don’t!” that earned him a hug from Shania Twain herself.
Atlantic City Weekly
By Lori Hoffman
Casey James was the guitar god who did his best work wailing the blues.
Casey James brought his smokin’ guitar licks to “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys,” “Don’t” by Shania Twain and “It’s All Over Now” by the Rolling Stones. He and Lynche teamed up for their popular duet from the show, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.”
Philadelphia, PA

Uncasville, CT

Manchester, NH

MJ Santilli from MJsBigBlog attended the concert and took a number of terrific photos, including this now iconic photo of Casey:
Photo by MJ Santillit
Here's MJ's review of Casey's set: 
I woke right up when Casey James took the stage. He really got the crowd going with his incredible guitar skillz. I really dug his set from beginning to end. Well, I could have done without the Big Mike duet (GAH, how I HATE “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.”)  Casey got things off to a blistering start with the blues cover, “I Got Mine.” His duet with Tim, the Idol guitar player, was major fun. He brought the temperature down a bit with the acoustic ballad “Don’t”, but then after his duet with Big Mike, it was back to some major guitar riffing as he closed the show with the Stones. “All Over Now.”
by D.C. Aries
Like I said before, not a country fan, so I thought I might be bored by third place finisher, Casey James, who sang primarily country. Boy was I wrong! Just his guitar playing skills alone makes Casey a star. Add the singing, and he was awesome. Casey was another one who seemed super sweet. Casey was my aunt’s favorite and she called him a “doll.” Big Mike also came back out to join Casey for “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” Their voices sound beautiful together, something you might not expect from 2 people in such diverse genres. Overall, I would definitely classify Casey as a star.
Additional photos by MJ:

Photo by InvisiBel1

Hershey, PA

By Chris Mautner
Casey James tore apart the stage with his guitar pyrotechnics and bluesy growl on The Black Keys' "I Got Mine." (easily the best and most un-Idol moment of the night).
Albany, NY

By Steven Barnes
the infectious, often thrilling blues-guitar rockin’ of Casey James
Mansfield, MA
By Sara Rodman
Casey James showcased his guitar heroics on the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine’’ among other tunes.
The Sun Chronicle
By Amy Caine
The second set featured more energy, screaming, and fantastic singing from Lynche and James who proved they can sing solo, together and with instruments.

Providence Journal
By Rick Massimo
Casey James took full advantage of the use of instruments by showcasing his guitar playing as much as his singing on the Stevie Ray Vaughan-styled “I Got Mine” and the slide-laden “It’s All Over Now.” “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?,” his duet with Lynche, was sweetly harmonized and saw them both on acoustic guitars.
Newark, NJ

By Jim Cantiello
Casey James, often stiff and awkward on "Idol," had one of the more effortless sets of the night. His impressive guitar work on the Black Keys' "I Got Mine" and the Rolling Stones' "It's All Over Now" made many forget they were watching an "Idol" concert.
by Michael Slezak
Following Michael's [set], Casey James was almost guaranteed to impress, and he did exactly that using a succession of guitars, particularly with the aggressive blast of the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine” and a southern-fried jam session on the Rolling Stones “It’s All Over Now.”
Pittsburgh, PA
By Scott Mervis 
The instrumentalist of the night was big Casey James, who came out blazing with the Black Keys' "I Got Mine," and continued to flash the kind of guitar chops that would raise hollers in a Texas roadhouse.
Bristow, VA

Baltimore, MD

USA Today/Idol Chatter
By Brian Mansfield 
It's showtime at the 1st Mariner Arena. The top tiers are sparsely populated, with only a few glow sticks glimmering from the darkness. But the bottom tier is ready to go--during the intro sequence, the highest-decibel shrieks are for Tim, Casey and Lee. 

In an abrupt mood swing from Mike's ballad-filled set, Casey James takes the stage next. He doesn't say a word at first, instead letting his guitar speak for him in the opening riff of I Got Mine.

"My whole life has been leading up to this point. I can't say enough thank you's," he says before diving into Don't.

"We're gonna need the mood to be just right for this one," says Mike, who has come back out onstage to join Casey in Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman. Upon his command, thousands of cell phone screens and glowsticks emerge from the crowd waving.

Backstage during Casey's set, Tim is listening to his guitar solo during I Got Mine.

"Is it just me, or does that guy do a lot of soloing?" he asks.

He means that in a good way.

"He's amazing. It's not even fair."
Charlotte, NC

Columbus, OH

Knoxville, TN

Virginia Beach, VA

Lexington, KY

LexGo Listen
By Rich Copley
But several artists seized the opportunity to make good second impressions, particularly third place finisher Casey James. On the show, James always seemed to be a little lost trying to make the judges happy. But taking the stage playing The Black Keys’ I Got Mine, he quickly established himself as a Texas bluesman who had a Stratocaster and wasn’t afraid to use it.
Duluth, GA

By Rhonda Cloutier
Casey at #3 bought the heat and a slew of guitars, electric and acoustic. He lit up the stage on “I Got Mine” playing off of the Idol band’s guitarist, Tim Stewart. It is safe to say that there has not been another Idol who can play a guitar like Casey. “Don’t” by Shania Twain, was my favorite on the show and on the Tour, although the duet with Mike on “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” by Bryan Adams, was swoon worthy. His set ended with the Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now,” a performance that felt like a real rock concert from back in the day.
Sunrise, FL

Tampa, FL
By Sean Daly
Casey James is a truly wicked guitar picker....
By Summer Lott
The resulting mix of Aaron's country songs, Casey's electric guitar shreds, and Crystal's low-key powerhouse vocals all blended to make the audience feel wrapped up in ten different concerts in one.
Wild 94.1
By Mellie Mel
Kara DioGaurdi’s favorite, Casey James was next. Disappointing to all the females in the audience, his signature blonde locks stayed up in a loose pony-tail. Jame’s voice, however made up for the lack of his flowy maine. It seemed as if he was more comfortable playing his electric guitar in this arena, than he had been all throughout the season for million’s of home viewers. His guitar riffs and bluesy voice proved why the ladies had become infatuated with him in the first place.
Houston, TX

Houston Chronicle Online
By Joey Guerra
Texas boy Casey James exhibited some presence and nice guitar work....
Tulsa, OK

Tulsa World
By Cary Aspinwall
The show contained plenty of highlights, including Casey James' impressive guitar skills on a cover of the Black Keys' "I Got Mine" ...
Dallas, TX

Dallas Morning News
By Darla Atlas
During James' set, he asked Michael Lynche to join him for a duet of "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?" It was a highlight of both the season and the concert.

"So this is home for you – this is your family, huh?" Lynche asked.

"That's right," James replied. "I think I know everybody in the crowd."

The beaming blond rocker, clearly trying to take it all in, waved to several people during his songs, which included "I Got Mine," "Don't" and "It's All Over Now."

"It's taken a long time – a long time – to get right here, and you guys all made it possible," he said. To his family, friends and fans, he added, "I'll always love you until the day I die."
Phoenix, AZ
By Randy Cordova
Both Katie Stevens and Casey James displayed more presence than they ever offered on the TV show.
James' bluesy guitar work and laid-back vocals were effective on Shania Twain's "Don't," which was offered as a yearning country ballad. James was in good spirits, announcing that he had just signed a deal with Sony earlier in the day.
Los Angeles, CA

Yahoo!/Reality Rocks
By Lyndsey Parker
The three best performers of the night, however, were--unsurprisingly--Siobhan Magnus, Casey James, and Crystal Bowersox.

Casey was also a total rock star. The energy level in the Staples Center immediately elevated when he cranked up the bluesy guitar for an unexpected (and unexpectedly great) cover of the Black Keys' "I Got Mine," and his Vedder-ish voice on his twangy renditions of Shania Twain's "Don't" and the Rolling Stones' "All Over Now" sounded fantastic live. Casey just announced that he's signed to Sony Nashville, and if his Idols Live set is representative of the country/rock sound he'll be going for, then I predict he's going to do very well.
By Matt Elias
The night continued with Casey James, who shredded guitar on the Black Keys' "I Got Mine" and Shania Twain's "Don't!" Lynche returned to the stage to join James on Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" prompting the ladies in attendance to swoon. James closed his set with his version of the '60s Stones hit "It's All Over Now."
Mountain View, CA

by Kirsten Coachman
Next up was newly signed Sony Nashville artist, Casey James. He opened his set with The Black Keys’ “I Got Mine,” and showed why he’s probably the most talented guitar player to ever hit the Idol stage.

His second song, Shania Twain’s “Don’t” proved why James will probably do very well as a country artist. A bit of twang could be detected in his voice throughout the song. It was probably the best vocal of the night from James’ set.

Big Mike was brought back out on stage to perform their duet from Idol, Bryan Adam’s “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” I didn’t think that the duet was as vocally strong as it was initially on Idol, but it was still fun to see performed live.

James closed his set with The Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now.” He was absolutely fantastic, from the guitar playing to the singing. James had finally got the second half of the show started.
Anaheim, CA

San Diego,CA

Sacramento, CA

Seattle, WA

By The Other Chad 
Moving into the top three, Casey James brought down the house with a dazzling display of guitar soloing on The Black Keys' "I Got Mine." James received high marks during Idol for his instrumental prowess, but due to time constraints his solos were always limited to a few bars. In concert, he unleashed a torrent of blues rock fury that brought nearly everyone at the Key Arena to their feet. His vocals were excellent as well, arguably more convincing than anything he did on the television show. Shania Twain's "Don't!" allowed for a tender moment with far more restrained guitar work, as James switched from acoustic to electric for the solo.

Joined by Michael Lynche, James dueted on "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" which was a popular moment during season nine. I would've preferred something from James on his own, as my tolerance level for that insipid Bryan Adams ballad is very low. James closed his set with some ferocious slide guitar as he tore through "It's All Over Now," which he first performed during Rolling Stones week of Idol. A common complaint about Casey James during his time on the show was a lack of stage presence. He seemed to wash away any doubts regarding his charisma, working hard to give the fans their money's worth.
Seattle Times
By Misha Berson
If young Kelly deserves a shot at the recording game, the lanky blond Texan hunk Casey James has justifiably scored one. He's been signed by Sony, and proved his mettle at the Key with blazing guitar and vocal renditions of "It's All Over Now" and the Black Keys' "I Got Mine."

Though dressed down in tousled hair and scruffy jeans, James adorned himself with four (or was it five?) different guitars, including a nifty turquoise electric model. And talent-wise, he's the real deal, a Southern rocker with a bluesy growl (and none of that irritating vibrato he used on TV), and instrumental chops that suggest a deep immersion in the ways of Allman and Hendrix.
Portland, OR

by Geoff Kleinman
The highlight of the evening was Casey James, who stole the show out from under Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze. His rendition of “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys was simply amazing, showing off extraordinary guitar skills. All I could think of during this first song was, "Damn, this boy can really play guitar". Casey James' "I Got Mine" was the real first exclamation point of the evening. This was followed by “Don’t” by Shania Twain, which was a great example of an artists making a song his own. It was at this point that it stopped feeling like an American Idol Tour and started feeling like the Casey James show.

Casey brought Big Mike back on stage for a nice rendition of “Have You Really Loved a Woman”. Mike's performance with Casey was stronger than any of his own three songs and it was nice to see the two of them sing together. The real highlight of Casey's set was “It’s All Over Now” by The Rolling Stones, the hands-down best performed song of the evening. Casey played a terrific slide guitar and made it clear that he is the best guitarist to have ever performed on American Idol. By the end of the song it was easy to forget that it wasn't an original song – a monstrous task considering its origin.
Denver, CO

St. Louis, MO

Des Moines, IA

(Casey's part starts at 6:35)

By PJ Yusten
Kara Dio-freaking-Guardi and the American Idol machine owe Casey James an apology. As soon as she drooled over the tall lean Southerner he was cast as a sex symbol. Judges reinforced that role week after week. Maybe that sexy image carried him to third place but OMG, this guy is talented. Vocally, James was more than solid showing a bluesy twang sound for his solos and a deep sweet harmony in a duet with Michael Lynche. As a guitarist, he is way up in the ranks. After shedding the TV show stereotype, it’s clear he is the real deal. Instead of creeping into the top three as a wanna-be Idol, if voters got a glimpse of his captivating style outside the patronizing judge’s box, the phones might still be ringing. To avoid hypocrite status, I’ll offer up my own apology. I liked him on the show. After seeing his live performance, thoughts of a new groupie group kept tugging for my attention. 
Highlights of the show
The whole Casey James set
• Better vocals than the TV show ever produced
• Natural unassuming style allowed the music to be the focus
• Proved he could be a star in more than one genre
• Master guitarist on electric and acoustic
The James-Lynche duet
• Contrasting styles made a perfect blend for romantic ballad
(It felt like they were making love to the words they sang)
• Both totally committed to emotion in lyrics, raw emotion and credibility
• Fused harmony caused chills; sounded like they’ve worked together for years
• Made the duet their own with unique style, each individually strong w/o taking away impact of duo
• Great audience connection with intimate tone
Minneapolis, MN

Chicago, IL

Chicago Sun-Times
By Thomas Conner
The most entertaining guy on stage, though, came in third. Casey James can sing and play the bejesus out of his guitar. He shredded a solo in the middle of his opener, the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine,” and again for his closer, the Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now.” His ballads sagged, even the duet with Michael Lynche on “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?,” but his rakish grin and studied nonchalance made him fun to watch, not to mention that Eddie Vedder quiver in his purr.
By Eloise Valadez
As with contenders from seasons past, it's not often just the winner of "Idol" who makes the strongest impression overall on audiences.

Third runner-up Casey James proved a real attention-getter with his heavy rockin' guitar playing and gutsy vocals on "I Got Mine"
Toledo, OH

Cincinnati, OH

Indianapolis, IN
By David Lindquist
Near the top of the class, third-place finisher Casey James and runner-up Crystal Bowersox took advantage of being liberated from filming car commercials, begging for votes and making small talk with Ryan Seacrest.

Wielding top-notch guitar skills, James deserves the shot at rock stardom previously afforded to Chris Daughtry. James takes more risks and exudes greater swing than Daughtry, as proven on steamroller renditions of the Black Keys'"I Got Mine" and "It's All Over Now" (written by Bobby Womack and popularized by the Stones).

Here's the final group finale -- watch all the way to the end!


  1. This is a work in progress! So feel free to add suggestions and links and I'll update it!

  2. Fantastic... It's amazing to see it all in one place...

  3. Thanks Shari for putting this together! All summer I searched for reviews and better quality videos of Casey. Its interesting to note that some videos reveal that the Idol tour was very well attended (after reading early on that ticket sales were down.) Casey really brought them in!!!!

  4. Ahh, memories! I was front row at the Portland concert, and that reviewer was like my brain twin. Sometimes it's hard to know if your favorite really did as well as you remembered because of bias, but apparently I'm as sane as they come. We picked a good egg, peeps!

  5. Thanks Shari! I will definantely being saving this to my favorites!

  6. OH WOW, Shari, no wonder your exhausted!! Thank you so much for putting this all here! I'll have to come back when I have more time to soak it all in. I'm like a small child at Christmas here!! I know Casey gained new fans all along the tour as he was able to express himself by voice/guitar, artist and being the kind, genuine person that he is! I may be biased here, but he was also my favorite in interviews. I loved to listen to his sincerity and heart answers! Thanks again!! MAE777

  7. Shari,
    your hard work is much appreciated. Thank you so much. (and yes, he is a good egg!)

  8. Holly mother of God, that kept me awake for hours till i realized i had to go to work!! But it was sooooo much fun to watch all that i just might need a couple more nights to watch all over again and again!! thanks for having it all at one place for our pleasure! U rock honey!!! (Fran @Franfrine)

  9. Great job Shari!

    I love the final finale song with the palpable joy the top 10 exude! They are so happy it makes me smile - Well done!!

    Also, seeing Casey air drumming makes me anticipate the day we get to see him behind a drum kit - hair flying - you get the picture.

    What a fun summer it's been following these Idols! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. I think I missed a good half of these reviews. Thank God for this blog. I hope you keep us updated with everything Casey as the years go by Shari, cuz he'll be around for a while. :)

  11. Wow! Shari! Thanks so much. What an act of love. I so appreciate this blog and you. It has become a home for me. I come here every day to see what brilliance you post.

    My second thought after reading all this professional wisdom - from mostly males and mostly reviewers not inclined to give ANY AI "contestant" the time of day is..........

    WOW! I DID see something in Mr. James that is special. He does have "it". He is the real thing.

    Okay. Stop the gushing, girl.

    It's just's so nice to be right. Can't wait to see the world at large figure out what I could have told them long ago.


  12. Thank you for the replay Shari, it really was a wonderful trip and one I will never ever forget. Casey is exactly the phenomenon I knew he would be but only had a glimpse of on American Idol. The best is yet to come.