Onstage at the House of Blues, Taylor Hicks displayed everything that made America “American Idol” champ last year: No surprises, no risks, nothing particularly memorable. Hicks — a strong singer, no doubt — belted his way through 16 songs that pleased his homemade poster-bearing Soul Patrol fan base, which could have just as easily provided musical backing to a beer commercial.
His eight-member band could not be tighter and Hicks worked the stage like the seasoned professional that he is, sweating, grimacing and whipping himself about in a kind of St. Vitus dance frenzy. Yet he possesses none of the intangible spark of so many of the performers that his singing suggests, from Otis Redding to Van Morrison to Sam Cooke to Ray Charles.
Influences were certainly in evidence; Hicks gave a nod to Traffic with a powerful cover of “Medicated Goo,” and to Marvin Gaye with the singer’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home).”
During Hicks’s own composition “Hell of A Day,” he somewhat bizarrely dipped into a quote from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” and inserted passages from Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”
and Steely Dan’s “Reeling In the Years” into “Hold On to Your Love.” When the Alabama boy snuck some “Big Boss Man” into “The Runaround,” he seemed to be aiming for Elvis, but landed closer to Charlie Rich.
Unfortunately, the homages to the greats draw rather unfortunate comparisons, only highlighting the mediocrity of Hicks’s own material. And, while his 2006, self-titled post-Idol album has sold nearly 1 million copies, that’s a far cry from the multi-million sales of fellow Idols Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. But humble Hicks has been doing this for many of his 30 years, and seems to appreciate the little things.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d get a refrigerator magnet,” he told the worshipping women of the Soul Patrol. “Thanks to you guys, I’ve got a refrigerator magnet.”