David Cook performs a show on his “The Declaration Tour,” which he brought to Oklahoma City Wednesday night. (Associated Press photo)
David Cook proved in person Wednesday night that his as-seen-on-TV potential and promise are real.
The 2008 “American Idol” winner and his talented band energized a sold-out Oklahoma City crowd with a short but potent rock ‘n’ roll show.
“This is our first, like, big (solo) tour,” Cook said, chuckling at the shrieks that accompanied his every word. “So we want you guys to leave here tonight feeling like your appetite for a rock show has been satiated.”
Job well done: His emotive hour-long set of power ballads and soaring anthems thrilled with screaming guitars, thundering drums and casual charisma, creating an arena rock sound and vibe that seemed a bit too big for the overheated Diamond Ballroom.
The show capped off an Oklahoma homecoming trip for Cook, who was living, playing clubs and tending bar in Tulsa when he auditioned for “American Idol” back in 2007. The singer/songwriter/guitarist, who grew up in Blue Springs, Mo., also played a sold-out concert Tuesday night at Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom, plus an acoustic post-show jam at one of his old haunts, the Gray Snail Saloon.
Fervent fans welcomed Cook back to Oklahoma: Despite the summertime heat, more than 100 people were lined up outside the Diamond Ballroom by 5 p.m. Wednesday – two hours before doors opened – jockeying for the privilege to stand closest to the stage. Though the crowd of about 1,000 leaned toward squealing female fans, the show drew a good mix of men and women, including young couples, parents with children, grandparents, teenagers and, yes, the cougars who so famously love Cook.
When the house lights went down, they chanted Cook’s name, and when their “Idol” seized the stage with the sexy, pulsating “Kiss on the Neck,” they yelled in adulation.
Cook’s jaunty hat, black V-neck T-shirt, facial scruff, electric guitar, gravelly voice and wide grin were all in place as he hit the high points from his platinum-selling self-titled album, including the angsty “Mr. Sensitive,” the heartbreaking “Lie” and the anthemic “Declaration.”
But some of the show’s best moments came when Cook delved beyond his 2008 post-”Idol” debut, including the passionate “Make Me,” a song from his days with the Tulsa-based touring band Midwest Kings. It was a fitting choice, considering Cook’s capable current band includes former MWK guitarists Neal “Doctor” Tiemann and Andy Skib.
The 26-year-old singer and his bandmates reached all the way back to 1986 for the highlight of the night. They got the entire crowd dancing and shouting along when they transformed Cutting Crew’s pop hit “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” into a full-blown, post-grunge rocker.
Throughout the night, Cook showed he has lost none of the easy charm, goofball tendencies and disarming humbleness evident on the seventh season of the reality TV singing contest.
After commenting on the stifling heat inside the venue, he performed the uplifting “Heroes” with a guitar pick stuck to his sweaty forehead. He often joked with the crowd and even asked at one point for the house lights to go up so he could see and thank his fans.
“There’s some of you that’s got the idea to move around a little, have your hands in the air, shaking your head a little bit, maybe shaking you’re a – -, whatever feels comfortable. But the idea is to move around,” Cook quipped as the band broke into the grungy-bluesy groove of “Bar-ba-sol.”
On several songs, Cook encouraged the crowd to take over the chorus, listening with a smile on his face. And he so charmed the fans he could get them to sing, clap or cheer with little more than a crook of his finger.
Cook and Co. abruptly exited the stage with the final strains of the power ballad “Come Back to Me,” but several minutes of screaming, chanting and clapping brought them back for another big love song, “Light On.”
The budding rock star closed the show with a song he wrote back in 2006 at a friend’s house in Tulsa.
“Now, three years later, it’s on a freaking record. It’s kind of ridiculous,” Cook said as he launched into the stirring “A Daily AntheM,” a tribute to his late brother Adam, who recently died of cancer.
As he and the audience belted out “oh, oh, whoa-oh” together, Cook climbed a huge speaker to lead the fans in waving their arms, then finished with his hands clasped in a kind of celebratory gratitude.
The show certainly left fans clamoring for more: Cook’s entire set, including the encore, was only an hour long. With much of his album left unplayed and his reputation for creative covers, it seems that Cook could have given his adoring audience more music for their money.
Cook was ably assisted in his quest to rock the crowd by high-energy opener Ryan Star, a fellow reality TV show veteran from “Rock Star: Supernova.” His ballads “11:59,” “Breathe” and “Last Train Home,” along with “Psycho Suicidal Girl,” got fans warmed up for their “Idol.”
See the full set list for the show after the break.
David Cook, Diamond Ballroom, OKC, Wednesday night set list:
Kiss on the Neck
(I Just) Died in Your Arms
Come Back to Me
A Daily AntheM