I’ve been watching the youtubes of David’s Tulsa performances and they have pretty much left me with my jaw permanently stuck to the floor. This is especially so with Angels and WYSYLM. I thought his Angels from Los Angeles could not be topped but I have to backtrack with his latest efforts in Tulsa. It’s like he has taken all the best moments from his past 52 performances of Angels and put them all together in Tulsa. The result is a masterpiece. The runs are all done without taking away from the basic melody of the song and the high notes that he sang were just eye-popping! His voice was edgy and urgent in bringing out the message of the song. Only David Archuleta could outdo himself.
WYSYLM is a gorgeous visual and audio display of his artistry. The images coming out of the video is evident of a mastery of musical expression through song and body language. He didn’t just merely sing the song, he embodied the song. Every facial expression, every gesture of the hands just brought the song to live. Looking at him, you realize that he has come a long way from the initial audition in San Diego. Then we saw an unsure youngster taking a few tentative steps towards fulfilling his dream of singing and performing. Like Dorothy who embarked on that trip down the brick road in search of dreams and fulfillment, so too has David but instead of a merry band of lions and tin men, he has us fans to travel along the same journey.
From that audition in San Diego with “Waiting on the World to Change” to the present “When You Say You Love Me”, he has attained the courage of a rebel and the heart of a performer. Transforming himself in the process into a towering a giant. Like Randy said he was born to do this. Maybe the bootcamp that is American Idol has aided in this transformation. Maybe the gruelling 53 dates tour, the constant glare of the public’s eye has caused him to grow up so to speak. At least that’s the general feeling of most observers when watching all the videos of his tour performances. As for me I remember a particular performance earlier in the season, on a smaller stage when the phenomenon that is David Archuleta was just emerging on the horizon.
This was during top 24 week when he performed “Shop Around”. At the time, to most viewers of the show he was this cute, akward kid who had just come through a trying series of auditions. But when he sang “Shop Around”, I felt that he was at his most relaxed, natural self. The performer really came through on that occasion. He was engaging, exuberant and even flirtatious in the rendition of the song. His post song banter with Ryan was sweet and fun and his acknowledgement of the audience was the beginings of a devoted fan base. He had already shown then what he was quite capable of on the stage, albeit a smaller one.
This was before the famous rendition of “Imagine” which catapulted him to the front stage and made him the one to beat. The expectations after “Imagine” were sky high and thus he seemed to withdraw inwards after that. Coupled with the increasing intrusion of the press and charges of stage dad interference the pressure seemed to sap a lot of his initial on stage effervescence.
The tour has managed to bring back that natural affinity for the stage in David. It has allowed him to gain back the familiarity and audience connection that was always there. Has the end of the tour meant a graduation of sorts for David? Perhaps – but I feel that David is not a student but a master rediscovering and reclaiming the artistry and skillful touches that is so much a part of his musical soul.