By Jennifer Lynn
Kelly Clarkson is not a name I often associate with reality TV these days, but last night at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena she reminded us exactly why she’s the original American Idol.
After support act Cover Drive failed to set Sparks alight with their Bajan Style moves (although bassist Jamar Harding does put on an impressive gun show), a montage of images flashed onscreen, chronicling Kelly’s ten years in the spotlight. Curtains up and Kelly appeared onstage, throwing herself straight in to number one single My Life Would Suck Without You. Dressed in a band t-shirt and black skinny jeans, there were no big budget costumes or set dressings, just Kelly, her impressive backing band, and those soaring vocals that the 30-year-old is famed for.
Without so much as stopping for a breath, Kelly took on Behind These Hazel Eyes and the upbeat I Forgive You, before pausing for some banter with the crowd of Clarkson superfans. Genuinely likeable, the Texan singer told the crowd of her Glaswegian production manager Alan, and his pet name for her- “lovie”. Refraining from attempting a Scottish accent, Clarkson also impressively knew the difference between the UK, England and Scotland, which is more than can be said for many of her pop counterparts.
Next up Kelly showed off her epic vocal range on Dark Side, before sticking her middle finger in the air to the industry which so often berates her, with the sarcastic You Love Me. It’s no secret that Kelly, and her fluctuating weight in particular, has been the subject of much press scrutiny over the years. Thankfully, it seems to be like water off a duck’s back these days, as she declared she’s “happier than ever.”
A slowed-down cover of FUN.’s We Are Young gained leverage as Clarkson carried it through the crowd to a platform in the centre of the arena, where she was joined by her backing singers, and launched into Already Gone from her 2009 album All I Ever Wanted. Returning to the main stage, Kelly announced, “Holy crap- there is one very strong young lady in the house”, in a comical response to the grabs and gropes she was subject to as she ran back.
One of the show’s only gimmicks was a 10ft hologram of country star Jason Aldean, whose track Don’t You Wanna Stay features guest vocals by Kelly. The duet showed off the singer’s versatility as an artist, with her stopping to thank fans for appreciating all the genres she likes to dabble in.
Showing off yet more of her Scottish knowledge, Kelly gave a rendition of Annie Lennox’s Walking On Broken Glass, much to the crowd’s delight. Explaining that she is a huge fan of the legendary star, Kelly admitted that “geeked out” when she was lucky enough to meet Annie, which isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination- Kelly was, after all, just a normal girl pre-Idol.
Because of You provoked one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night, but it wasn’t too much of a struggle for Kelly’s powerful vocals to be heard above the sing-a-long, as she performed the song she penned at age sixteen about her parents’ divorce. New single Catch My Breath followed old favourite Breakaway, and had clearly already been added to her fans’ repertoire, while classic Since U Been Gone had everyone jumping and fist pumping festival style as she left the stage.
Returning to the stage for her encore in a sparkly bodycon frock, Kelly rattled her way through singles Never Again and Mr Know It All, before coming over all vintage with her first post-Idol tune, Miss Independent. Ending the four-song final showcase with this year’s top ten hit Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You), Kelly is far from the woman scorned that her songs perhaps portray; her fun factor, teamed with a range which is surely envied by her pop peers, ensured she exited the arena to rip-roaring cheers.
Kelly releases her new album Greatest Hits: Chapter 1 on November 26th. You can read a review of her latest single Catch My Breath here.