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Mike Terry

WEST VALLEY CITY — David Archuleta had nothing to worry about when he said he wanted to "make Utah proud" during an interview with the Deseret News Monday afternoon.

A few hours later, the screams were deafening when he appeared at American Idols Live concert at the E Center.

In fact, the screaming audience made it impossible to hear Murray's "American Idol" runner-up sing his version of Robbie Williams' "Angels." It was obvious a lot of the 10,000-plus audience members were there to see the "American Idol" runner-up but not necessarily hear him.

In addition to "Angels," Archuleta sang OneRepublic's "Apologize" and the golden oldie "Stand By Me," which featured an interlude of Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls."

And while Archuleta smiled and told the audience he appreciated all the support, he broke down, crying as he sang his version of Josh Groban's "When You Say You Love Me."

Earlier, in the interview, Archuleta spoke about the tour.

"It's been a great tour so far," he said. "And it feels good to hear the applause in other cities. It shows that people do enjoy what I do. But it feels good to be at home. And I want to make everyone in the audience feel good."

The E Center shows Monday and tonight are the 10th and 11th stops in the American Idols Live tour — featuring the 10 finalists from Season 7 of "American Idol," including winner David Cook, Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Chikezie, Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook, Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay and Syesha Mercado.

Originally, the tour was supposed to play only one night, but tickets sold out so fast — 20 minutes, according to E Center general manager Kevin Bruder — that the tour, which had a day to spare, added the second show.

Archuleta said singing every night and doing interviews every day can be dangerous to his voice, but he has come up with ways to protect his trademark tenor.

"I drink lots of water," he said with a loud laugh. "And I make sure I don't talk too loud, but as you can see, sometimes I forget."

In all seriousness, Archuleta said he takes time to rest his voice throughout the day and get some sleep — at least as much as the tour will allow.

"I've gotten used to the schedule," he said after stifling a yawn. "We do late nights and early mornings, but we get as much sleep and rest as we can, so we're fresh for the next show."

Archuleta said what surprised him most about the tour was the fact that he would actually be singing in front of thousands of people.

"I know it sounds weird to say that, but when I get up on stage, I realize that it's a different stage and different city," he said. "It feels good to know there are people who love me in other cities. And that people really enjoy what we're all doing."

That was clear Monday night. With each Idol coming on for a few songs throughout the show, the build-up to Archuleta's set was electric. Even when "Idol" winner David Cook sang following Archuleta, the screams weren't as loud.

So, what's next for Archuleta after the tour ends on Sept. 13, in Tulsa, Okla.?

"I'll be focusing on recording my CD," he said. "It's different choosing the songs for a pop CD than it is for a rock or country CD. There are some good songs out there, and I want to choose the ones that are a good balance of radio hits and emotional songs."

He did say, also, that he wanted to start writing his own music.

"I'm trying to do that now," he said. "I just hope that some of the songs I write are actually good enough to be on the CD."

Also in interviews before the concert, Cook, Castro, Maulubay and Mercado gave their impressions of the tour.

Castro said he wasn't prepared for the size of the tour.

"We're in six semis and six buses that go across the country," he said. "It's amazing how it all comes together. And the crew is amazing. They're there before we get there. And they're there after we leave, and then we see them again the next day all ready for us."

Mercado said the biggest challenge for her was dealing with fans — of the other idols — who try to disrupt her set during the concert.

"You still hear people putting you down from the audience," she said. "I've learned to deal with it and just go out there and do my best."

Cook said he was surprised at how many people are attending the concerts.

"We heard from the organization that there would 11,000 people in Glendale, Ariz., but there were 16,000," he said. "My dad asked me if I could tell the difference between 11,000 and 16,000, and I said, 'No."'

As for Malubay, the most surprising aspect of the tour was how much she's learned about herself.

"I'm still learning," she said. "But I've found that at times I've had to stick up for myself and become a stronger person mentally.

"But we all work with incredible and inspiring people. And that makes it all the more enjoyable."

E-mail: scott@desnews.com