Durbin Fever, a highly contagious viral infection that raged throughout the U.S. last spring – Santa Cruz County was particularly hard-hit – is expected to spike again locally this week.
That’s right, folks. “American Idol” is back – at least for one evening when the “American Idols Live” tour, featuring Santa Cruz’s own insta-celebrity James Durbin, rolls into the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Wednesday.
“It’s been really good,” Durbin said of the tour so far. “Every single city has been receptive and fun. As soon as I go out – in classic James fashion, from a surprise area in the arena – everybody gets really excited and gets on their feet.”
Durbin, 22, shares the stage with the 10 other top finalists from the recently completed 10th season of Fox’s monster-hit show. The San Jose date will be the sixth concert in a national tour of 45 cities that will stretch into mid-September. It will also be the closest one to Santa Cruz and, as a result, functions as Durbin’s hometown show.
The concert is designed as a showcase for all 11 “Idol” contestants, so “Idol” fans predominantly focused on Durbin will have to wait for the show’s second half to see his solo performance.
Durbin will sing two songs – the Guns N’ Roses classic “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and Muse’s “Uprising” – and will participate in a duo with “Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina (“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake), and in group performances of Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” and Neon Trees’
“We have to do the same exact songs every night with no surprises or changes,” Durbin said Monday by phone from Sacramento. “That part really sucks. By the end of the tour, I will never want to hear or sing those songs ever again.”
During his unlikely rise from unknown amateur to America’s hard-rock standard bearer, Durbin established a reputation as a rebel in what is fundamentally a conservative show, bringing a fiery heavy-metal sound to a show historically associated with mainstream pop and country. Durbin is credited to bringing new audiences who otherwise would avoid “Idol.”
In that fashion, he talked of rebelling against the tight stricture of the “Idol” concert during his “hometown” date in San Jose. He said he’ll probably take some time between his two songs to address his Santa Cruz County fans.
“That’s what’s really missing from this,” said Durbin of the show’s structure. “That’s what I love to do. I love to see how the crowd is doing. I like to get them really riled up and excited about everything. But there isn’t room for that because it’s such a long show.”
Even though “Idol” ended more than six weeks ago, with North Carolina country crooner Scotty McCreery finishing on top, Durbin’s life is expected to be frenetic through the end of the year. He and his fiance Heidi are planning their wedding, to take place later this year, while he’s on tour. Plus, there’s the post-“Idol” career plans to work out.
After the San Jose show, the “Idol” tour moves to Los Angeles where Durbin will meet with longtime Aerosmith producer Martin Frederiksen and producer/performer James Michael of the band Sixx A.M., which features Motley Crue frontman Nikki Sixx.
In the meantime, an “Idol” produced five-song recording of Durbin’s best “Idol” performances entered the Billboard 200 charts this week at number 31.
He said he isn’t ready to make any announcements about a new recording deal, but he is looking at songs, as well as writing some material and talking with potential collaborators.
“The stars are aligning,” he said. “Everything is falling into place.”