Closer to the Edge – 30 Seconds to Mars
Technically, this performance is aptly named Closer to the Edge. James rides the outer edges of the pitch several times in this performance – as he moves through the audience stage left and as he pulls away from the audience stage right. His wail at center stage is very good until the last note. I think he lessens his core support for a split second, anticipating his move to stage right. His lower register is really quite good if you listen to the highest quality recording of this performance. The vibrato is lovely and the tone quality is very warm. After weeks of 10 or 10+ rated performances, even the slightest deviations are amplified. I do not believe that the pitch issues are a result of walking through the crowd – James can do that in his sleep every day of the week and twice on Sunday. It could be the sound feed he is receiving through his ear piece. Could be! But I think more likely the pitch issues are the result of not being able to handle the adrenalin rush. Certainly James has had high adrenalin performances in the past, but this time is different and it shows in his face and in his breath after the performance. At the end of other adrenalin packed performances James was either on the floor, spent (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting) or he was breathing quickly, very heavily, and very consistently (Heavy Metal). This time, although he is moving around, there isn’t as much heavy exertion present in this performance vocally or in movement to burn off a lot of the adrenalin his body is producing. This kind of unmitigated adrenalin rush makes it hard to control the breath and to maintain the pitch. At the end of James’ performance you can see the continued rush of adrenalin in is his eyes and in the big, slow, deep breaths he takes several times as he is standing next to Ryan. This was not James best night technically, but still good overall. 8
Emotionally, James maintains a passionate, joyful demeanor through out this high energy performance. His ability to shape the melodic line in new and creative ways continues. 9
James’ performance skills continue at a very high level. He connects with the audience immediately and participates with them by walking among them behind the judges table. He makes full use of the stage and especially good use of center stage. His animated presence keeps the audience engaged! 10
Good overall: 9
Without You – Badfinger
Love can hurt!!
I have always said that one of the things that separates James from the others is that the music sings him and not the other way around. When he connects to a lyric or a melody he connects deeply into his very soul. This song is a prime example of how this happens for James. He connects to the lyrics of “Without You” so deeply that, in his performance, the music simply reaches deep down within and pulls out the very essence of James with every note. The floodgates open and the sound and the emotion just flow out of him raw, uninhibited, unfiltered and soooo real. We witness first hand a brief glimpse through the window of the soul of another human being. We feel right along with him. We experience vicariously the emotion that gushes out, uninvited and unexpected. James did not expect this reaction either. After all he thought had worked through it all. But James and the audience learn a valuable lesson in this performance: We can bury our emotions deep, but we cannot bury then dead. Sooner or later they will rise up to be faced when the time is right. And sometimes we don’t get to control when that time will be.
Technically, I thought James did very well actually, until the final push at the end. He begins softly with beautiful vibrato and a tone that is scrumptious, tender, sweet and vulnerable. His pitch is good with some very slight variations. At the end, the emotion does get the better of him, technically. The throat constricts and begins to close up and there go the overtones and the beautiful vibrato that I am sure were planned for the ending. Under the circumstances, James show tremendous core strength in holding on to that last phrase, pushing through it, and saving it with a gutsy and heart wrenching dynamic turn at the very end!! 8
Emotionally, as one reviewer that night puts it, this performance leaves me verclempt!! James does a wonderful job, building the character of this piece by starting softly and tenderly and building to a gut wrenching climax at the end. He shades and shapes the melodic line beautifully. His has such expressive, sad eyes – which spill over with agonizing angst into the vocals themselves. James’ use of his hands, fists, open arms and bent forearm is also tremendously effective. This is spontaneous emotional perfection. 10++++++++++++
“Still waters run deep.” James may stand still to perform, but the effect of his emotional and vocal struggles run very deep!! For me this is as real as it gets and therefore is a performance of a lifetime. Hollywood would give an Oscar for a performance like this. It is imperfectly perfect!! 10=+++++++++++
This is James Durbin raw and uncensored and real!! 10++++++