Clay & Company Rock RBC Center
Posted August 7, 2003 2:22 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Clay Aiken wowed a sold-out hometown crowd Wednesday night and bathed in an ovation that nearly brought him to tears.
Nine contestants from the hit FOX show brought their talent to the Triangle in the "American Idols" Live! tour, including Raleigh's own Aiken -- who got the loudest cheers of the night.
The concert attracted 12,000 screaming, sign-bearing fans of all ages to the RBC Center.
Rising from below the stage, Aiken, the "American Idol" runner-up, opened with his single "This is the Night." When it was all over, he stood silently for several minutes as the audience roared -- almost bringing him to tears.
It was when Aiken rose to the stage that fans rose to the call the pop star put out earlier in the day: "If you have tickets to the concert, be loud!"
Aiken treated fans to a song from his soon-to-be released album, called "Invisible."
He became emotional one more, introducing his mother Faye Parker, and showing his appreciation for the crowd.
"I would never be able in a thousand years to thank you for what you've done for me," he said.
Before the show, Aiken said he was excited about his Raleigh debut and he promised to bring the house down.
"When the Hurricanes were doing their whole playoff thing, they always said that the RBC Center was the loudest one. I said, 'You watch and see. It's going to be so loud.' I can't wait. I'm so excited," he said.
Aiken, who said said he was was running on pure adrenalin all day, managed to catch a power-nap before the show.
The "American Idol" finalists arrived in Raleigh by bus around 2:30 a.m. early Wednesday, a few hours after performing in Richmond, Va.
During a return visit to WRAL's Noon News Wednesday, Aiken said he was so excited about coming home he did not sleep on the drive to Raleigh.
"From Richmond to Raleigh I was sitting in the front seat bouncing," he said.
Aiken said this tour is about thanking fans -- and his hometown fans are no exception.
"Every city we go to -- even if no one is from there -- is about thanking the fans for putting us in the position we're in, for putting us on the show and getting us as far as we've gotten," he said. "Coming home to Raleigh is a thank you from all of us -- but it is a big one for me. This -is- the night," he said.
Aiken's fame is benefiting charities and organizations close to him.
While in Raleigh, Aiken announced the creation of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to benefit special needs children. The foundation received a check for over $42,000. The foundation shares its name with the Bubel family. Aiken worked with their autisic son before his "Idol" experience.
The crooner started his day chatting it up with Bill Jordan and Sheri Logan on the air at WRAL-FM Mix 101.5. Lucky contest winners were on hand to get autographs and talk to their favorite singer.
Before Tuesday night's performance in Richmond, Aiken told WRAL's Scott Mason that while he enjoys life on the road, he misses life at home in Raleigh.
"It's Southern hospitality that they don't have in other places. I miss the sweet tea and the Krispy Kreme," he said with a laugh.
Aiken said he remains baffled at his popularity.
"I don't know why they are interested sometimes. I look at the picture on
and I'm like, 'That's just a picture of me. Calm down, people.' To me, I'm not that interesting."
He is interesting to his fans who describe him as talented, phenomenal, amazing and incredible.
"Ninety-five percent of people, I think, are there for Clay Aiken. It's a roar when he comes up out of the stage. You cannot believe how much people like Clay Aiken," said a fan at the Richmond show.
"We're having a great time with it. We're getting to do something we love to do," Aiken said of the two-month tour. "We're getting to do something that we're all very excited about. We get to hang out with people that we've been family with for so long."
"He's just the greatest guy. Everything you read about him everything you hear about him is just wonderful," another fan said.
"It's hard to get a grip on exactly what's been going on. People are all about the magazine and covers and the CD sales. To me, everything has happened so quickly I don't have time to sit and think 'Look what's happened to me,'" he said.
Aiken's CD single topped Billboard's charts and went platinum after just 37 days. His first album is due for release in late September. The video for "This is the Night" is in the editing phase.
The Raleigh concert stop comes about halfway through the 39-city tour. The "American Idol" entourage heads to their sell-out show in Charlotte Friday. Tickets to Saturday's show in Atlanta are still available.
IDOL RETURNS HOME:
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Victorious: Grateful Camper, Aiken Reunite In Raleigh
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Behind The Music: Some People Knew Clay Before 'American Idol'
Clay Aiken Talks About Newfound Fame, Musical Career
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