Views on pop culture through my eyes

Kelly Clarkson in Concert
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Nokia Theatre LA Live

Special guest: Matt Nathanson

Stronger Tour 2012

Songs performed: “Dark Side,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Since U Been Gone,” “Heavy In Your Arms,” “When You Believe,” “Einstein,” “Walk Away,” “Til the World Ends,” “Leave the Pieces,” “I Know You Won’t,” “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” “Let Me Down,” “I Forgive You,” “Already Gone,” “You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like,” “Breakaway,” “Mr. Know It All,” “Miss Independent,” “Never Again,” “Because of You,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “My Life Would Suck Without You”

Comments: Kelly Clarkson brought her “Stronger” tour to LA at the Nokia Theatre last night. I was instantly reminded why I fell in love with her in the first place on “American Idol.” She is just the girl next door with a fantastic voice, and a down home personality. This is someone you could see hanging out with, and someone you can relate to. She has one of the most distinctive voices in pop music today, and for me, she can sing just about anything. And she showed that she can do rock, pop, soul, blues, country and even dance.

This was my third time seeing Kelly. The first time was on her co-headlining tour with Clay Aiken. Second was on her headlining tour for the “Breakaway” album. Years of recording, touring and award show performances have done her well. She is the seasoned veteran now after winning “Idol” over 10 years ago.

The show started with “Dark Side,” one of the new songs. Using a screen backdrop at the front of the stage, they displayed headline images from the tabloids about her — Is she too heavy, is she a diva, is she losing sponsors, is she washed up at 29? Showing from the show that she put on, she is far from over! This was followed by 2 of her big hits from her “Breakaway” album: “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Since U Been Gone.”

A costume change proceeded her coming back into the audience to sing Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms.” A dramatic song, complete with beating red heart on the screen. She loves to sing covers in concert. A semi-acoustic stripped down segment followed with all the band members down off their risers at the center of the stage. This included more covers (“When You Believe,” “I Know You Won’t (Carrie Underwood cover), “Til the World End” (Britney Spears cover), plus new song “Einstein” and old favorite “Walk Away.” During the course of the tour, she has been taking fan requests via Twitter as far as what song to cover, and the Britney song was the one chosen for tonight. She sounded great, and easily could have had a hit with it. “Walk Away” was Kelly’s take on the type of song that Annie Lennox would sing. Kelly described her sound as “Sass and Soul” and I whole heartedly agree. She also made fun of herself singing a few bars of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” — when she was talking about hitting the gym which she hates.

And this being LA, Kelly was able to bring out some of her famous friends during the show. She sang with American Idol’s Tamyra Gray on “When You Believe” (the Whitney-Mariah duet). It’s nice to know that they have stayed friends all this time. Next up, was Michelle Branch, who sang with Kelly on the Wrecker’s “Leave the Pieces.” Too bad the group didn’t last. The third special friend was Blake Shelton, her friend from “The Voice.” Kelly acted as a guest mentor on the show earlier this season. They sang “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (her hit duet with Jason Aldean). They sounded great together, and it was easily one of the highlights of the night. And finally, Reba McEntire came out and sang with Kelly on “Because of You.” They recorded it together for Reba’s Duets album. The thing is Reba has the bigger vocal on the song, so it was cool that Kelly let her sing that (she is one of her personal idols).

For “Already Gone,” she sang the first part of the song acapella with just vocal harmonies from the eight piece band. Kelly talked about visiting Africa and being inspired by the people there while introducing “You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like.” Images of happy children played in the background, ending on the web address for the charity Houses of Hope Africa. She encouraged us all to get involved with charities we believed in and to make a difference in the world.

“Breakaway” took us back to the hits, and served as a sing-along for the entire crowd. From there it was one hit after the other leading up to the end of the show. It is refreshing to see a show that is not so structured or planned out and that has room for spontaneity. Looking over the set list from other recent appearances shows that she changes things up for different shows. She introduced “Mr. Know It All” by saying “Who hasn’t dated a tool?”. That song segued into “Miss Independent” — one of her earliest smashes. For the first encore she came back to sing a stirring version of “Never Again” with just a piano for backup. She joked about how only 35 people bought the album that it came from (“My December” — a commercial disappointment but still a good album artisticly). The final special friend was Reba — and they sounded fantastic together. The last 2 songs really had the crowd jumping, dancing and singing along — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.”

What a fantastic show this was! Kelly is a one of a kind entertainer, with an incredible vocal range. She had the crowd on their feet for most of the 2 hour show. I look forward to what she is going to do next.

Matt Nathanson opened the show. Best known for his hit “Come on Get Higher,” he showed that he is a funny, engaging performer more rock-oriented than that hit suggested. He played both acoustic and electric guitars during his set and even had nods to Whitney and the Monkees in some of the song lyrics.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including the Real Men Wear Kilts line. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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