Lee DeWyze takes the stage to the ringing chords of his coronation cover, Beautiful Day. But since the finale, Lee's version of the song has transformed. It takes few cues from U2's epic arrangement, and only minor ones from the acoustic version Lee has occasionally performed since. Instead, it takes on a rhythm all its own, as Lee turn it into a acoustic-rock anthem, one that emphasizes the line, "I know I'm not a hopeless case." And, judging from the crowd's response -- it dwarfs anything the other performers have seen -- he's not.
The first chords of Lee's next song almost sound like Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, but it's really his new version of Elton John's Rocket Man. But the Pink Floyd similarity may have been intentional -- after the first chorus, Lee quotes briefly from Floyd's Welcome to the Machine.
Like Beautiful Day, Hallelujah has undergone a makeover since the show. Standing in front of a spotlight that scatters rays around, Lee begins the song simply on guitar, then he walks to the front of the stage as the audience begins to sing with him. The arrangements on the TV show may have won him the competition, but these new versions suit him much better.
Treat Her Like a Lady takes on a darker edge than it had on the show -- the band almost sounds like they're playing Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen behind him at the start.
"You're like my family!" Lee says afterward. "You're amazing in every way." Then he launches into Kings of Leon's Use Somebody, saying, "Everybody can use somebody once in a while -- everybody."
It's a great song choice for Lee, exactly the sort of thing he'll need to get on the radio, and its whoa-oh-oh chorus immediately pulls the audience in, all the way to the back of the hall.
If Lee gets this kind of powerful-yet-vulnerable tune, he could really do something going forward. All those criticisms about confidence that he got about the judges fall away when he's in a setting that he feels is all his own. There's something undeniably appealing about him as he sings a song like this -- a guy worn ragged by the world but still retaining that sense of hope that refuses to give in.
But, still, he refuses to milk the moment. When he thanks the audience, instead of basking in their applause or running the gauntlet and slapping the hands that reach for him near the edge of the stage, he simply turns and walks off to get ready for the final group song.
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