(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - August 10th, 2012)
As we all know, Kelly Clarkson first came into prominence after becoming the winner of the inaugural season of the TV series American Idol in 2002. Since then, a decade later and still not even 30, Clarkson has seemingly done it all - musically, at least!
Tonight, at an outdoor venue in rainy MI (Clarkston, would you believe!), after some AC/DC to deliberately pump the crowd, the lights go down and the thin white veiled curtain begins to show snap shots of Kelly through the ages. And then it lifts completely, a stunningly-bright white hot spotlight beams center stage (like its trying to signal a space ship), and suddenly out of nowhere there she is.
Dressed in all black, head to toe, save for some gold designs on her top, Clarkson wastes no time in getting straight into both 'My Life Would Suck With Out You' and 'Hazel Eyes.' Screaming 'Are you ready?" mid-song, bathed in red and yellow lights she already has the young crowd eating out of her hands. Kicking off 'I Forgive You' with her trademark "Come on" yelp, Clarkson ends that and begins to chat with the audience. "How y'all doing tonight? I have to tell you about a drink I just found. It's called an Orange Creamsicle cocktail. And after one drink, trust me, you're havin' a gooooood night," she laughs, raising the red solo cup to her mouth to drink from.
New single 'Dark Side' is next, which also enables Clarkson to remove her gently flowing black wrap to reveal a painted Basque, of sorts. She looks great, is loving every second of being up there, and with her powerhouse voice and vocal versatility in general, she is definitely making the most of everything. After a quick change mid-set she comes back out wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt for her rendition of FUN's 'We Are Young,' which is loved by the young crowd.
The slow-paced 'Already Gone' is next, but the first real highlight of the night was when she brought out The Fray's Issac Slade (as it's a co-headline tour) to sing the Jason Aldean portion of 'Don't You Wanna Stay.' "I just love singing that song," Clarkson comments after. And I love singing it with him. He has such a great voice and he's so sexy!" Indeed it was simply brilliant to hear and they sounded so good together. Once the applause for that had died down, Clarkson then brings on a member of her team from NBC's The Voice, Jordan Meredith to duet on Miranda Lambert's rockin' 'Mama's Broken Heart.' "Isn't she so hot and so talented," Clarkson asks the crowd after, as she hugs and, for some strange reason playfully face-slaps Jordan off the stage!
And then comes the strangest moment of the show thus far. Grabbing a grey hooded sweatshirt from one of her backing singers, Clarkson explains to us all that now is the Fan Request portion of the night. Having asked through her website for song ideas for tonight's "Detroit" show, the overwhelming response was for Eminem's 'Lose Yourself.' A tough song for anybody but the man himself, and with Kelly herself admitting "I'm not being too brave with this," she belly-flopped straight into it. Predominantly head down, reading the stage-placed lyrics as if her lyrical life depended on it, after what seemed an eternity, she was finally done. Out of breath, a mouth full of saliva, quite what the in-attendance daughter of Eninem made of it would be interesting to hear!
Moving along and next was 'Breakaway,' before she then introduces the entire band. "OK, you've heard country, you've heard slow, you've heard rap, ... are you ready for what's next?", she screams at the crowd, before turning up the heat with a scorching 'Since You've Been Gone.' Next her Music Director, Jason Halbert (always found on keys at the back throughout the show) comes forward to play piano center stage. Clarkson then re-emerges in a shiny gold mini-dress, and bathed in a stunning blue light, between the two of them they bring us a stunning 'Because Of You.'
"This is for all the jerks out there," she then lets us know, before heading into a spirited 'Mr. Know It All.' Bathed in bright fire-red lights, it bleeds seamlessly into 'Miss Independent.' As the final chords of that song are struck, she tells us that "everybody knows this one," and launches into the powerhaus 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You).'
Overall, Clarkson is so charmingly sincere at her shows, her songs sung with so much power, so much honesty that you could think she's there singing directly at you. But, in truth, she also seems to get distracted a lot of times, babbling on about whatever random tidbit of info she had come across that day. Sure her younger fans love that about her, but if she just learnt to weed that side of her show out a little, minimizing the white noise between songs, she would perhaps be able to include one or two more songs in her set. Just a thought.
Review and Photos by: Russell A. Trunk