New York City, NY
October 29, 2014
Amateur Night: A Professional Night
The original American Idol! Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC is a legendary event, not least of all because of the legendary stars that have launched legendary careers after performing at Amateur Night. Going all the way back to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s! I think much of the audience at Amateur Night is hoping to see someone like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Lauryn Hill or Ella Fitzgerald who previously debuted on the legendary stage. Well, to bury the lead, we didn’t quite have that luck but what we did see was a consummate display of professionalism that ultimately belied the title of the show.
The Amateur Night band at the Apollo was fantastic and tight. The host comedian Capone kept things moving briskly and knew just how to work the crowd. And the Set It Off Man, Joe Gray, is a class act. The opening number included Joe coaxing three audience members from the crowd and egging them into a dancing display. A young Japanese tourist did some impressive break dancing, capped with a backflip, followed by a twerking tourist from Virgina and an old white guy from Vancouver that did a kind of Chuck Berry hoe-down. I got the feeling there weren't a lot of people from Harlem in the audience. At least, not on the ground floor. Next up, was ‘Stars of Tomorrow,’ performers under the age of 15 which were as good as or better than some of the adults. The adults are subjected to boos and catcalls if they aren’t up to snuff. But only a couple of the adult performers were yanked from the stage though perhaps that number should been a little higher because there were several moments of deep unrest in the audience. Though first place probably went to the best performer, second and third place undoubtedly only got through because of a large number of family and friends that packed the audience and cheered loudly for their favorites. Nevertheless, a very fun night that I recommend to anyone visiting NYC. Go to the Apollo!