CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

Return to David Cook

From Idol to Broadway, David Cook ends a year of new experiences with his first acoustic tour

BY COURTNEY DEVORES

Correspondent

November 15, 2018 04:53 PM

A decade ago “American Idol” audiences crowned David Cook the Season 7 winner, assuring that he’d long be remembered as the show’s resident rocker who succeeded where rock-oriented Bo Bice and Chris Daughtry had failed.

Cook wasn’t always a rocker though. He went to college on a theater scholarship before his band took off. So it wasn’t completely out of left field when earlier this year, he surprised much of his fan base by zipping up thigh-high stilettos to play Charlie Price in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” – a role that has helped rock musicians like Cook and Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn get a shiny red boot in Broadway’s door.

Having wrapped his second run this summer, Cook is now back on tour with his band, stopping Friday at McGlohon Theater. But instead of the big rock show audiences are accustomed to, he’s stripping things back for an acoustic show.

“This tour was something I wanted to do for a while – rework these songs and give them a little bit of a different sound. More for me than anybody else. I’ve been playing some of these songs the same way for 10 years,” Cook said, following a Halloween gig in Chicago where he and the band wore costumes that “made it look like animals were giving us piggy-back rides.”

Having released the futuristic, cinematic pop-rock EP “Chromance” in early 2018, followed by “Kinky Boots,” Cook was ready for something different.

“It just checked all the boxes. I’m learning different things about these songs every night. When you strip these songs down, it’s a nice little lesson in lyrical interpretation. I get to tune into the vibe,” he says.

It’s easy to picture him as a singer-songwriter sitting on the edge of his bed with an acoustic guitar. But Cook hasn’t written that way in quite a while – which means this is the first time some of these songs have been broken down in this way.

“It’s honestly more fun to be able to have all those bells and whistles at your disposal in the studio, instead of sitting down with an acoustic,” he says.

The acoustic tour – which finds Cook fronting the band without a guitar for the first time (he broke his hand) – has given him a renewed appreciation for some of his older songs.

“I’ve got to sing (the hit) ‘Lights On’ for 10 years and doing that for a long time, you can take that moment for granted. I’ve certainly been guilty of that,” he says.

Being the new kid on “Kinky Boots” allowed him to relearn to appreciate those moments, he says, because of “wanting so badly to be a part of telling that story in the right way.”

Although he says he doesn’t have anything planned following the tour other than getting back to writing (once his hand heals), Cook wants to continue taking risks and trying new things.

“I like the idea of doing things outside the box people want to put me in.”