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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 30, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 13
Kelly Clarkson 'Stronger' than ever at ShoWare concert
Arts & Entertainment
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Kelly Clarkson 'Stronger' than ever at ShoWare concert

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Kelly Clarkson has been through it all. The media has called her fat. Speculation about her sexual orientation has gone on for far too long. Critics have asked, 'Could Kelly make a comeback?' In many ways, since she won the very first American Idol 10 years ago, the music biz has been the best - and worst- thing that every happened to Miss Independent. But I'm here to tell you that Kelly is as relevant as ever and her fans are showing the love. On March 22, Kelly brought her 'Stronger' tour to Kent to promote her album of the same name. Thursday night in ShoWare Center, Kelly proved that what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

Kelly's powerful voice never faltered during the nearly two-hour show and the audience of 4,000 returned their appreciation by cheering and singing along with nearly every single song. The set list spanned her decade-old career with songs new and old making an appearance throughout the night.

The pop and part-time country music star opened the show with 'Dark Side,' from Stronger, her 2011 album, which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart with over 500,000 copies sold thus far. Right out of the gate Kelly made it known that she was going to take on her critics head-on as she attacked the song with ferocity after images of derogatory newspaper and magazine headlines flashed in the background. Her voice sounded better than ever and the crowd exploded with energy.

'I was really hoping for an early show tonight,' she told fans. 'I was really tired before I came out here but this crowd is really giving me some good energy. Keep it up!'

And they did. The crowd was on its feet for most of the show and, although Kelly used a teleprompter for some of the songs (you'd think she would've learned from the Super Bowl national anthem debacle), the audience seemed to know the words to every song. Speaking of the crowd, I thought it would be 50/50 - half Gay men, half middle-aged women. But I was wrong. Although the audience had its fair share of queens and their friends, an astonishing crop of new tween girls sang along with every song - even the old stuff.

Wasting no time getting to the hits, Kelly ripped right into 2004's 'Since U Been Gone' (from the album Breakaway, which sold 12 million copies worldwide). Other songs from the album were performed as well, such as a rousing rendition of the title track - a song that Kelly told the audience, 'really made my career take off.'

But it wasn't all old stuff. Due to fans requesting newer material on Twitter, which Kelly admitted to the audience is 'really cool,' she sang a number of the new tunes that have aided in her recent success.

Kelly often sings covers, but when she chose to sing The Beatles' classic 'Oh Darling,' her crystal-clear voice owned the room. She told the audience she was particularly happy to perform that song - at a fan's request - because a member of her band is 'the biggest Beatles fan in the world.'

A highlight of the show came when she sang a hologram duet with Jason Aldean, 'Don't You Wanna Stay,' showing her affinity for country music. 'I grew up on country music,' she told the audience. 'I just love it!'

Working two powerhouse songs out in a rocking medley, Kelly sang 'Miss Independent' and a new single, 'Mr. Know-it-All.'

Kelly ended the show with a four-song encore, which included the mega-hit 'Because of You,' 'My Life Would Suck Without You,' and, of course, 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You).'

For anyone who thinks ShoWare Center is too out-of-the-way, think again. There's plenty of parking, which saves time and cash (it was free or $5), and the venue is amazing. There's not a bad seat in the house and the sound system was perfect for a vocalist such as Kelly Clarkson - whose voice is as good, if not better, as it was when she first won over America on Idol.

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