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Aiken gives fans early yule gift

Clay Aiken performs at the Delta Center.
Clay Aiken performs at the Delta Center.
Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

CLAY AIKEN, WILLIAM JOSEPH, Delta Center, Tuesday.

Christmas came early to the Delta Center Tuesday night. And for the small audience of Clay Aiken fans, the holiday became a bit of heaven, too.

The former American Idol runner-up brought his "Joyful Noise" tour back to Utah. This time, the scenes took place in the Nu Skin Theatre, and the sound was mixed well. Aiken's voice was clear, as were the voices of his three co-singers — Quiana Parler, Angela Fisher and Jacob Luttrell.

"Joyful Noise" is a Christmas musical that follows the story of a middle-age woman, performed by Aiken's junior high school music teacher, Allison Lawrence. Her Christmas memories are told through musical flashbacks as she reminisces with a 9-year-old neighborhood boy named Tommy, performed by an 11-year-old actor Gregory Ellis.

Scenes were set up through spoken lines and set changes. And the action was danced and mimed to Aiken's renditions of Christmas carols.

"Christmastime," "Merry Christmas With Love," "Sleigh Ride," "Jingle Bells," "Christmas Serenade," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Christmas Waltz" and "Celebrate Me Home" were some of the highlights of the first act. However, it was Aiken's duet with Lawrence on "Silver Bells" that was the most touching. Seeing Aiken singing with his former music teacher was a heartwarming experience.

Fisher also sang a solo during the first act. Even though her headset microphone cut out, she finished "I Miss You Most at Christmas" in strong form after switching to a traditional hand-held microphone.

The second act took place at the neighborhood church. The singers and congregation gathered for a Christmas program, and through it all, Aiken and his co-singers — who performed as guardian angels — serenaded the audience with "O Holy Night," "The First Noel," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."

The four voices blended evenly and brought some audience members to tears.

Luttrell had his chance in the spotlight with "O Come O Come Emmanuel," and Parler took center stage with her version of "My Grown-up Christmas Wish." That song held more meaning when the world's current events were taken into consideration.

Backed by a quartet, which included opening act William Joseph on piano, Aiken and the singers brought the Christmas spirit to Utah.

Joseph opened the show with a piano-karaoke. He played his baby grand to pre-recorded music, which included Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and "Carol of The Bells." It would have been nice, however, to hear Joseph play acoustically, without the pre-recorded orchestration.