I've heard a few of Eric's songs on the radio, and I've heard his first (and only) album a few times. I liked what I knew about him. I used to refer to him as Not Jason Mraz, because they have similar voices and similar musical styles. We all know that I'm a Jason Mraz fan, so I figured I couldn't go wrong seeing Eric Hutchinson for free.
Considering the situation, with the main act not showing up to perform, there were a surprising number of people in the audience for Eric Hutchinson. He knew exactly the situation he was in - a crowd full of people who were let down and bummed out because their favorite American Idol wasn't going to sing. Eric ran with it. Because he suddenly found himself to be the headliner of the concert, he was able to do a much longer set than he normally would have. There was a lot of pandering to the crowd, but it really worked. The audience had a good attitude, and Eric was the source. "Every time I announce a song, even if you don't really know it, just scream like it's your favorite song." So we did. It actually made the show more fun.
"This next song is so new I haven't even written it yet," he announced halfway through the set (to which I shouted, "Yeah! I love this song!"). He then proceeded to sing a song about "Who is this Eric Hutchinson?" and how he seems like a pretty nice guy. It was very tongue-in-cheek and even poked fun at himself for singing in the third person. I don't know if it was improv or if it was written before the show, but it was a great addition to the set. Some other lyrics: "I think he's the guy who sings 'I'm Yours.' No, he's not." And later, "I think I went to high school with that guy. No, you didn't." It was very clever.
He was energetic and happy, and at one point announced that "all bets are off" and invited the crowd seated in the upper sections of the grandstand to come down to the floor, since so many seats were empty. A massive migration followed, and the security personnel had to rush to make sure everyone was in a seat and out of the aisles. But the ladies loved him.
Eric saved his two radio singles for the encore, closing out the concert with "OK It's Alright With Me" and "Rock and Roll," the song that put him on the musical map. It was a fun show, with good music and an appreciative star. In the end, I'm glad it worked out how it did. I was able to become more familiar with his work, and I loved the enthusiasm he put into the show. He made the most of an undesirable situation, and I think the fans appreciated it as well.