By MOLLIE DURKIN, York Dispatch Reporter
More than 1,000 fans went crazy for Phillip Phillips during his long-awaited Thursday night performance at Penn State York’s Pullo Center.
The Season 11 “American Idol” winner was originally set to play in May but postponed the show for medical reasons. The sell-out crowd gave him a warm welcome.
In the audience was the father-daughter duo of Philip and Kendall Lenhert, who came to celebrate his birthday.
“I like Phillip Phillips because his music is relatable,” said Kendall, 16, of Spring Garden Township.
And Philip, 49, of Mountville was pulling for Phillips when he was on the show, he said.
“He’s natural,” he said. “I think he just has a natural air about him.”
Phillips frenzy: And Alison Conner, 17, a singer from Dover Township who hopes to try out for “Idol” herself, said she appreciates the level of talent the 23-year-old Phillips has.
“I actually like his music — he’s, like, the only contestant that I actually like what he did afterwards,” she said.
And her friend Aubree Davis, 17, of Red Lion said she was most looking forward to hearing his debut single, “Home,” the best-selling of all the Idols’ songs.
“But I like all his music,” she said.Phillips attracted quite a few musicians in their own right, such as brothers Eric and Nate Swartz, both of whom play guitar.
Eric, 19, a sophomore at Penn State York said he’s been to a couple of concerts at the Pullo Center, including Switchfoot in October.
“They hold really nice concerts here,” he said. “It’s just a good atmosphere.”
The brothers have Phillips’ debut album, “The World From the Side of the Moon,” and agreed that his style of music is unique but thoughtful and easy to digest.
“His lyrics are intelligent,” Eric said.
“They relate to our lives,” added Nate, 16, of York Township.
And relatability was the key for Phillips’ audience, which was a mix of all ages, genders and interests.
For one group of young girls, it came down to Phillips himself — his music, voice and good looks.
“I really like his music, and he’s really cute,” said Sara Kitting, 16, of Springettsbury Township. “He’s just, like, a really down-to-earth person.”
And sisters Emma Gaetjen, 9, of Manchester Township and Grace Gladfelter, 17, of West York agreed that his voice enhances his music.
“It’s just that his voice is very unique and stuff — it’s original,” Gaetjen said.
“It’s raspy but smooth at the same time,” Gladfelter said. “It’s rich.”
The show: The concert began with opening act Dugas, a four-piece folk act from Nashville. The band has also toured with the Zac Brown Band.
And when Phillips took the stage, the crowd rose to its feet and went crazy with deafening cheers and applause.
“Let’s dance and act silly,” he said. “Let’s act silly tonight.”
Phillips’ music is hard to define, with clear blues and jazz influences woven into catchy pop-folk rhythms. As he performed songs “Man on the Moon,” “Gone, Gone, Gone” and “Tell Me a Story,” fans sang and danced along with his encouragement.
“Y’all can dance better than me,” he said.
Feeling the music through his whole body, he kept rhythm through his shoulders to his feet, stomping and bopping and interacting with his band mates. The band behind him included another guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist and trumpet player.
And in short vignettes, Phillips put his own twist on popular songs, from a folksy version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to a low-key rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
Emotions were high when he finally rounded out the night with “Home.” After a lingering standing ovation, cheers and applause, Phillips returned to perform another song and thank the crowd.
“You’ve been awesome,” he said.
Editor’s Note: For the live blog and video from the show, go here.