Maddie Poppe is completely charming in her first Iowa concert since 'American Idol'
Maddie Poppe talks about life on tour. The Des Moines Register
CLINTON, Ia. — Maddie Poppe paused a few notes into "Landslide."
The Fleetwood Mac classic that helped the Clarksville native win the hearts — and votes — of this year's "American Idol" viewers didn't sound quite right.
A brief silence engulfed the room.
"Talk among yourselves," Poppe jested, breaking the silent ballroom with a hearty chuckle as she plucked each string back into tune.
"This is my first, like, big show," she added. "I'm just being human."
And, like clockwork, a voice bellowed from the heart of the sold-out crowd: "Maddie, you're home! It's OK."
A few plucks later, she found the right key, bringing to life a rendition that felt as warm and wholehearted as it did five months ago, when she earned an ovation from "Idol" judges.
And all was, to quote the audience, OK.
Iowa's native "American Idol" winner returned Saturday night to the Hawkeye state, playing the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, Poppe's first headlining performance in her home state since winning the popular ABC singing competition last May. Des Moines' own soulful songwriter Patresa Hartman opened the show.
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter teamed a modest, Midwestern charm with her captivating vocal talent during an 18-song set of cover and original music.
A Clarksville reunion: Saturday was, for some, a night months in the making.
Just ask Jill Morrison, of Clarksville, who traveled the 175-or-so miles with five friends from Butler County to celebrate the homecoming of a local who cut her teeth at talent shows and farmers' market corners.
She remembers watching a younger Poppe in school choirs, but "now we have to pay to see her," Morrison said, jokingly.
Others, like Valerie Chesnut of Clarksville, revel in Poppe's humility. Chesnut traveled to Clinton with her eight-year-old daughter, Tracey.
"We're such a small town," Chesnut said of Clarksville, a northern Iowa community of about 1,500. "We all knew she was special. I don't think she realized it — how good she really is."
A homeward "Idol": Iowans who road-tripped to Clinton for a taste of "Idol" didn't leave disappointed, either.
A week removed from her 47-show summer on the "American Idol! Live" tour, Poppe sprinkled in moments of the reborn reality show into her 95-minute set.
Some were poignant (a piano-backed "God Only Know," seriously); others were whimsical (who doesn't nod their head to the "Brand New Key" chorus?).
But it was Poppe's modest charm that best complemented the goosebumps her vocals delivered. She sat on a high-top stool, playing her guitar during most songs and a ukulele for others.
Adele, James Taylor, a Poppe original — each song offered an opportunity for her to welcome the audience into a new story.
She offered crowd participation at random (ahead of "You're So Vain," she insisted that "Somebody will lead out there, just follow that guy.") and prefaced originals with high school anecdotes — like that time she got dumped at a McDonald's.
"The good thing about a breakup is after a breakup, your parents buy you whatever you want," she joked.
And, yes, there were goosebumps. She nailed Otis Redding, Elton John and Janis Joplin covers.
A closing connection: The night headed toward a finish with Poppe's take on White Stripes' ballad "We're Going to Be Friends," followed by the aforementioned Redding cover and vocal highlight, "The Dock of the Bay."
From there, Poppe turned to the song she credited for launching her "Idol" run: "Rainbow Connection," the beloved Muppets cover.
Still, she couldn't leave without thanking the supporters who remind her that — no matter how far out of tune some moments get — it'll be OK.
"I think this crowd has been better than any crowd we had on tour," Poppe said. "And I mean that. I'm from Iowa, but still ... you didn't have to come tonight.
"So, thank you all for coming and thank you for voting and supporting me."
Maddie Poppe's setlist:
- Going Going Gone
- Brand New Key (Melanie)
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
- Give Me One Reason (Tracy Chapman)
- Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel)
- Dreams (Brandi Carlile)
- You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King/James Taylor)
- Me and Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin)
- Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
- You’re So Vain (Carly Simon)
- Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
- The Reason
- Don’t Ever Let Your Children Grow Up
- Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
- God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
- We’re Going to Be Friends (White Stripes)
- The Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
- Rainbow Connection (The Muppets)