Tuesday night at Hammerstein Ballroom, Kelly Clarkson brought her “All I Ever Wanted” tour to the Big Apple. I’ve had an affinity for our original Idol since she won the eponymous reality show way back in 2002. The reason this show was so fantastic is the same reason she won American Idol… It’s the pipes! Her voice is among the most exceptional I’ve ever heard live, and brilliant when she surprises you with the occasional octave jump. So, I’ll start from the beginning.
Smarting from the revelation that the Veronicas were no longer the opening act, bored with the two acts that did open, and generally annoyed with the claustrophobic feeling of being sandwiched between a giant and a mom with her kids, my excitement for seeing Kelly perform live for the first time seemed to fade… but then it started with her DJ revving up the crowd with AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”
Opening to “All I Ever Wanted,” the curtain raises to reveal a minimal stage with Miss Independent’s band front and center — ooh, a horns section! I love it when artists who have incredibly strong voices showcase it by surrounding themselves with super talented musicians, and not an elaborate set. One who masters the art of this is Annie Lennox. Kelly appears upstage center and my anxiety and irritation with the Kezbo bretheren suddenly evaporates.
Lifting my spirits even more is the presence of one of Kelly’s (and my) musical idols. Reba McEntire just snuck in and sat down in the front row of the box next to me. Wow. I knew they are friends, they toured together last year, and Reba covered Kelly’s song, “Because of You,” but how cool that she would make her way out on the town to support her young men-tee. More about Reba in a bit…
Kelly performed all the hits you’d expect, from her sing-along anthems, “Breakaway,” “Already Gone,” “Because of You,” to crowd jumping juggernauts “I Do Not Hook Up,” “Walk Away,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” and the surprisingly impressive, “Never Again.” New tracks off her new CD included “Impossible,” “Ready,” “If I Can’t Have You,” and “I Want You,” which she says is a happy song she wrote just to get people off her back for gravitating to depressing songs! Then came the soaring ballad, “Cry.” I loved this moment and so did Kelly. She said, “I love singing this song because look at all you up here in front, it’s like there’s a 1,000 Celine Dions in the house!” (cue pounding fist to chest move). Kelly, you’re so endearing!
Unexpected songs on her playlist included a mash-up of “Use Somebody” by the Kings of Leon and Alanis Morissette’s “That I Would Be Good,” White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” and a beautiful acoustic version of Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.” I think Reba was smiling 🙂 So sweet is the relationship between Kelly and Reba, who was acknowledged for covering “Because of You” before Kelly sang it herself.
The last song before her encore was perhaps her biggest crowd-jumping pleaser, “Since U Been Gone.” All I can say is that it inspired Reba to pull out her mobile phone and record a video of Kelly and the human pogo-sticks littering the floor and balconies of Hammerstein. For a moment, Reba was just one of several thousand other Kelly Clarkson fans like me. When Reba plays that video back to Kelly, they just might see me waving. Ah, it was a good night.