We chose Kelly Clarkson, American Idol
watchers like to think. But most likely, even without the help of “A Moment Like This” and everyone who voted her the winner over Justin Guarini that inaugural season back in 2002, she would have catapulted to fame on her own because she’s the owner of that incredible decibel-defying voice. All of that was on display at last night’s show at Quicken Loans Arena.
Check out photos from the show right here.
Entering the winding stage surprisingly from a trap door near the center of the room, the Texas diva started entirely a capella with that first American Idol
song: “...Oh I can’t believe it’s happening to me/Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.”
This quick, yet personal version was followed by insane cheers and a cut to black. The rest of the stage then opened on a large backing band complete with a horn section and backup singers. Clarkson dropped out of her huge, billowy black skirt to reveal a much shorter one as well as black sparkle pants and combat boots. Then, she got busy with songs off her newest record, 2017’s Meaning of Life
The new material is far more blues influenced than some of the poppy club songs that fans are used to. After 16 years in the business, as she reminded us, she’s clearly pushing herself. With “Meaning of Life,” “Love So Soft” and “Whole Lotta Woman,” none of which have been huge hits for the star, she stomped around the stage (sometimes with her singers falling behind like ducklings), showing off her more funky side — sing-talking, growling and screeching.
All of this to say that she’s no longer the Kelly with chunky highlights. She’s a mom and a grown-ass woman who's chosen to do things her way. The show at times did get somewhat talky, as she is promoting her new daytime talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show
coming to NBC this fall, but her little tangents all highlighted her realness.
At one point, a fan near the front held up a DVD of From Justin to Kelly
for her to sign.
“Two words: contractually obligated,” she embarrassingly confessed to the audience. “Not all of us is Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard
. Not all of is Meryl Streep. I never wanted to act.”
At another point, she brought her A Minute and a Glass of Wine Facebook Live series straight to the stage, beaming in fans from all over the world to hear her sing a stunning rendition of U2/Mary J. Blige’s “One.” (And yes, she sipped a glass of red for that part, while barefoot.)
Clarkson also admitted during her show that these days she gets emotional over everything. “It takes nothing to make me weepy,” she said. To get the crowd on her level then, she broke out “Piece By Piece,” sung along with a lone acoustic guitar. The song is about the love of a father and what that should look like. It’s a song with the power to melt the iciest of hearts. Thankfully, she moved on to happy fodder after that with songs like "Heartbeat Song" and "My Life Would Suck Without You."
The final tune before the encore ushered in “Miss Independent” with the help of Clarkson’s openers Brynn Cartellini and Kelsea Ballerini, both of whom have lovely singing voices but don't hold a candle to Clarkson’s incredible vocal range. At the end of that rousing arrangement, all three disappeared into the abyss of the stage through the trap door.
While some in the audience chose to leave (to beat nonexistent traffic?) at this point, the four songs in the encore were a worthwhile listen. Starting off on a raised platform, which just continued to move scarily and steadily into their air, she sang “It’s Quiet Uptown,” a track included on the Hamilton Mixtape,
and moved into “Never Enough,” the rafter-hitting showstopper from The Greatest Showman
Safely coming down from her pedestal, Clarkson rolled into the two bigs she hadn’t hit yet: “Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)” and, the reason we were all there, “Since U Been Gone,” both of which had everyone dancing and jumping.
Whereas Lady Gaga and Katy Perry subscribe to the more-is-more model at their shows, and Beyonce slays with the works, Clarkson’s show feels less like a huge event and more like a party (she did genuinely thank us all for coming at one point). Of the American Idol
winners, with the exception of Carrie Underwood, she's the most decorated (Grammys and American Music Awards galore) and beloved, and that's no accident. As last night proved, she's truly one of this county’s greatest musical treasures.
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