Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kelly Clarkson: My Rock Star Muse Takes Radio City By Storm!

Last night I got to see My Girl Kelly Clarkson blow the roof off of Radio City Music Hall. Luckily it stopped snowing earlier in the day, so performing sans roof was not a huge inconvenience for the sold-out crowd. I went by myself, because no matter how many ways I tried (online advanced sale, online regular sale, actually going to RCMH box office during Christmas Spectacular madness) I couldn't get two tickets together. Clearly, no one else there had this problem, as perhaps I was one of the only solo-seaters in the joint. No matter, as Kelly would tell us in powerhouse vocals, "Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone!"

I have always loved me some Kelly Clarkson. Has it really been 10 years since the first season of American Idol? She and I were much younger then. I think we are both much more awesome now. I actually wrote most of the early drafts of my show, "The Timing of A Day" while immersed in her 4th studio album, "All I Ever Wanted" and did lots of my revisions to my new show "Vestments of the Gods" while listening to her latest album "Stronger." There's just something about her voice and her music that I find artistically and creatively inspiring. She is my rockstar muse. And she genuinely seems like a cool chick to hang out with. So maybe she does like Ron Paul's limited government stance on politics. You know when Election Day rolls around she's voting Obama. :)

Anyway, I hadn't seen Kelly perform live since her Addicted Tour, which was like 3 albums ago. I was very excited to see what she would perform at Radio City now that she has 5 albums in her catalog. Would it mostly be stuff from the last album? She has so many older hits to cover to please the fans. How would she balance it? I was very curious.

Radio City was a great venue for her. She said at the beginning it was her first time ever being there and her excitement was obvious from start to finish. Oh, before I get into the show, I should share my experience being in the space. I got frisked on the way in! I looked so unassuming and didn't even have a bag with me! I guess the guy chose me because i was alone so he was only delaying me going in and not a group of people. But for serious, it was the metal-scanning wand and I had to open my coat and then one of my very top pockets on my left shoulder had a tube of chapstick in it. The guy was like "can you remove that please from your pocket?" I did so with a pleasant smile, but I couldn't quite hide the incredulousness from my tone as I said "It's just my chapstick." I mean, what did he suspect it was? A blow dart for when I try to take out Ms. Clarkson from my seat in the second mezzanine? I mean, come on now. Anyway, my view of the stage was great. I sat next to the most reserved gay couple I have ever seen in my whole life. They hardly reacted to anything and almost never stood up the whole time even when everyone around them was standing and there was no way to see the stage otherwise. C'mon, guys! Loosen up! Get into it! Feel the beat! The couple on my other side was not much better. At least the row of girls behind me was really into it and the couple in front of me as well. People, get up and dance! It won't kill you. It will make you stronger.

The show itself was a very straightforward delight. They had the required laser light show going on the whole time that fits her style of uptempo pop songs, but there otherwise weren't a lot of bells and whistles on stage. No big dance numbers or set pieces or costume changes. Just great music and really strong versatile vocal performances. She sang for about an 1 and 40 minutes straight (Matt Nathanson did about 45 minutes of an opening set and was a good appetizer while we waited for the delicious main course) and what she gave to us I like to characterize as "Kelly's American Sampler". She sang basically all her hits over the past 10 years, with a few covers and some new album songs also in the mix. She sang 25 songs! It was a taste of everything she could and everything she's known for. I left feeling very satisfied. This was the set list. It's sub-divided into four acts and the encore so you get a sense of where the beats were where Kelly could run of and down a liter of water before she kept going. :

Dark Side
Behind These Hazel Eyes
Since U Been Gone
You Love Me

Heavy in Your Arms (Florence + The Machine Cover)
My Man (Funny Girl - Broadway Tune Request)
I'd Rather Go Blind - Etta James Tribute
Medley: Kelly Albums Through The Years
The Trouble With Love Is -Walk Away - How I Feel - I Want You

I Know You Won't  (Carrie Underwood Cover)
Don't You Wanna Stay (with Jason Aldean - who was seen onstage as a Jolly Green Giant-sized projection)
Let Me Down
I Forgive You
Already Gone

You Still Won't Know What It's Like
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
My Life Would Suck Without You

Never Again
Because of You
Mr. Know It All
Miss Independent

The only big song left off the list was "I Do Not Hook Up" and I didn't really notice until the concert was over. Since U Been Gone came VERY early. I think, as a crazy screaming crowd, we were expecting it later. All the covers that came during the 2nd quarter (as I've divided them) were really solid. I'd Rather Go Blind was a stand out. As was her cover of I Know You Won't, which might be one of my favorite songs Kelly's ever done. She first covered it on her Unplugged Special and I'm really glad she threw it into the mix tonight. It was an unexpected delight.) People who were not me recorded them and put them on YouTube, so here's a sample of the awesomeness. I apologize for the shaky-cam on their behalf.

The Encore was really nice. She sang a really stripped down version of Never Again. She dedicated Because of You to Reba, who was in the audience. And then rocked out through to the end. I have to say it tat while ending on Miss Independent made sense thematically, it was one hit that most of the audience couldn't sing all the way through. Most people (me included) really only know the parts that go "WHAT IS THIS FEELING TAKING OVER??" and "WHAT HAPPENED TO MISS INDEPENDENT?" and the rest of the song is just fun to jump around to. As opposed to say "Breakaway" or "My Life Would Suck Without You" or "Since U Been Gone" which everyone there knew by heart. Still the band rocked Miss Independent really hard. You can't fault them their own little rock out at the end. :)

The night was a total treat. So happy I got to go. I left feeling energized and inspired. Thanks, Kelly! You are the best. Keep on rockin'. I'll keep coming back for more.

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