December 7, 2012 | 9:38am
The Clematis by Night stage was moved and expanded last night to make room for The Voice's Cassadee Pope's return to her West Palm Beach home. The city's weekly setup is normally by the fountains on Clematis, but for Pope, it was pushed all the way back to the waterfront on Flagler Street to provide space for the much-bigger-than-average crowd. The rows of vendors and hundreds upon hundreds of people provided a festival feeling that forced me into a momentary SunFest flashback.
Before Cassadee had her moment in the spotlight, the Dee Dee Wilde Band warmed up the crowd with some nice covers with just the right amount of saxophone. Right when I thought "How dare it be so hot in December," South Florida showed its true colors and welcomed a quick ten-minute downpour. Everyone ran for cover, and it looked like the crowd dwindled significantly, but then our guest of honor arrived (no, not Santa) and, with her, clear skies.
With all her success even before The Voice, Pope was still humbled by the big, cheering crowd when she hit the stage. Mayor Jeri Muoio was busting with WPB pride when she presented Pope with a key to the city and a friendly "You better win!" Then together, they turned on the lights surrounding the first sand Christmas tree by using a massively cheesy on/off switch.
After a quick pause for the band to get set up, it was finally time. The songstress opened by saying, "This song is where it all began for me on The Voice," before breaking into Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," much to the delight of the young kids with signs screaming in front of the stage. The Voice had a camera onstage the entire time, and Pope pumped up the crowd by telling us that they were filming for the next show, which airs Monday.
The singer announced that her whole band was made up of "West Palm homies," including her previous bandmates from Hey Monday, Alex Lipshaw on guitar and Patrick McKenzie on drums. Next up was "Over You," a song that charted number one on iTunes for Pope. It was written by her coach, Blake Shelton, and his wife, Miranda Lambert. Before busting into a rock version of "Oh Holy Night," she revealed that "there is nothing like coming home to West Palm Beach -- it will always be home to me."
While belting the holiday classic, she couldn't resist but to shout out a little "Hey, Grandmom!" before the chorus.
For her last song, Pope closed with the opening track, "Original Love," from her solo self-titled EP. Her voice was truly the star during this upbeat jam that stole the set and proved that this girl really can wail with the best of them. A promising ending note, considering we could be hearing a lot more original tracks from her very soon. You've made West Palm proud, Cassadee, but now... You better win!
Overheard in the crowd: "Get it girl!"
The crowd: Lots of kids on shoulders pretending they knew all the words.
Tune into NBC's The Voice on Monday at 8 p.m. to watch the show for yourself.