Madison VanDenburg captured the attention of more than 3,000 fans at the Times Union Center with a commanding vocal performance of Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” just months after singing it on ABC's "American Idol."
But this time she really was “back in town,”
VanDenburg joined forces with "The Voice" stars Moriah Formica and Delaney Silvernell to put on a cover-heavy, family-friendly hometown bash Friday night. And right behind them, for the duration of the show, stood silhouettes that represented their hometown of Albany. While roughly half the lower level and floor was filled and the crowd took a while to really be responsive to the performances, many of the fans who showed up were devoted: families and young girls in t-shirts who were about to catch a glimpse of a local inspiration or two.
The talented trio didn’t let them down.
And if anything, Formica knows exactly how those young fans feel.
As she effortlessly tackled the vocal acrobatics of Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” it was hard to forget she discussed seeing Grande on the very same stage just moments before.
While the night came full circle for Formica, she didn’t look the least bit new to it. She and her band, highlighted by guitarist Nick Stamas, were true rock stars and sprinkled shredding and headbanging throughout her lengthy set. Blondie’s “Call Me” proved to be a fan favorite from the six-piece group, and worked the adults in the crowd during a night geared mainly toward the young ones.
During the cover, Formica focused in on her rock-seasoned vocal chops and as Stamas tinkered with some solo shredding, his headbanging was undeniably eccentric and made him possibly the most entertaining showman of the night.
The band also treated the hometown crowd to some music video action and had a video team on hand filming for her upcoming single “I Don’t Care What You Think.”
Later on, Formica’s performance of Heart’s “Crazy On You” didn’t start as planned, as her guitar mic wasn’t properly hooked up. The crowd felt more like a movie theater audience for the duration of the show, but Formica’s eventual guitar fix got the loudest reaction of the night so far.
That is, until VanDenburg showed her face.
Right before VanDenburg came to the stage, around 9:15, a 10-second countdown and "American Idol" montage flashed before the TU Center.
The audience erupted.
VanDenburg walked out in amazement as she played through Jessie J’s “Domino” in a sparkly, sequined dress. She was the star everyone wanted to see, but the clear joy on her face alone proved she was just as happy to be there as anyone else.
This may not have been the crowd size she or others were hoping for, as empty space was visible throughout the arena (which was restricted to just the floor and lower bowl and about half-full), but they still knew how to cheer on their hometown hero when her voice filled the venue.
During “A Million Dreams,” VanDenburg’s voice did just that and she took moments to hold hands with fans on the stage’s catwalk, point out a few friends in the crowd and make the front portion audience feel like they were helping her put on the show. Her disbelief was clear, but it made the moment even more personalized and local.
Phone lights lit up the crowd during Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” the stage turned purple with lighting during P!nk’s “What About Us” and VanDenburg’s mega crescendo during The Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” emphasized that she was a musical powerhouse at just 18.
The audience’s excitement dwindled during the ballads, but VanDenburg’s voice still shined through.
And through originals like “Night Like This,” she showed that she could be a dynamic songwriter just as much as a cover artist.
At the start of the show, Silvernell, who flew up from Los Angeles to open, was just as much of a magician with her voice. She played covers from Kelly Clarkson and Jessie J, and even played through her own songs like “Bow and Arrow.”
Overall, the event served its purpose. The show may have been more interactive at a smaller venue, because of the spread-out crowd at the TU Center, but it highlighted local talent and left many going home with smiles on their faces.
Not just because they heard some great music, but because the 518 was responsible for it.