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Despite tour woes, 'Idol' finalists hold their own

American Idol winner Lee DeWyze performs at the

American Idol winner Lee DeWyze performs at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre. (July 7, 2010) Credit: Sally Morrow

It's a tough time on the "American Idol Live!" Tour.

The reigning "Idol" Lee DeWyze's "Beautiful Day" single opened as the weakest-seller in the show's history. This week, the rest of the tour was scaled back, adding to the feeling that this year's crop of "Idol" finalists was somehow lacking in star power.

"Christina Aguilera had to cancel her tour, and no one's blaming her," DeWyze told Newsday before the show, adding that the national tour still lasts nearly two months.

Fair enough. It's not the performers' fault for overbooking - that blame should be shared between producers and the judges, with a heaping dose reserved for the stagnant economy.

Wednesday night's concert at the sweltering Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, however, is another matter. They did control that and they certainly did all they could to rev up the crowd.

DeWyze isn't quite an arena-ready showman, but he certainly has potential thanks to his charisma and powerful voice, which he showed on "Rocket Man."

Crystal Bowersox is a more seasoned performer, but her laid-back style is better suited to smaller venues. That's not to say her Joplinesque spin on 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up" wasn't moving or that her emotional voice isn't even more impressive live, but the gorgeous "Up to the Mountain" would hold up better in a club.

Michael Lynche surprised the crowd by rapping T.I.'s part in "My Love," while Casey James impressed with his take on The Black Keys' "I Got Mine."

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Outside of the Top 2, though, Aaron Kelly may be the most prepared to step off the tour and right into a career. His spin on country hits from Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts showed his voice would fit nicely on the radio and his solo in "The Climb" outpaced his former competitors.

Even the undercard held its own, especially Andrew Garcia, who was charming with his acoustic take on Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" and Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning." Maybe it's the fact that they only have to handle two songs, but Didi Benami and Katie Stevens handled themselves well and Tim Urban pleased his squealing fans with a solid version of Goo Goo Dolls' "Better Days."

Though "Idol" is in the midst of some restructuring blues, its finalists still manage to serve the franchise well.

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