The seats were filled up to the nosebleeds last night at Kelly Clarkson’s show at Verizon Theatre. Clearly, North Texas loves the Burleson native and very likely, the show was sold out. Or that’s what the frustrated guy outside screamed to the scalper. The crowd was sick with adoration — and I learned why. Clarkson is not so much a star as much as she is a genuine and personable talent. It’s hard not to appreciate her.
From behind a scrim flashing headlines of KC, she warms the audience with “Dark Side” from her latest album Stronger. It was a moody piece and offered a tepid opening, but she soon came center stage to rock out with “Behind These Hazel Eyes” that amplified the already high energy into the stratosphere. She finished her troika of an opening with a surprisingly early “Since U Been Gone.”
Clarkson was in great vocal shape and her band could rock the shit out her songs taking them from mere pop radio hits to arena-sounding levels. But it was after her first three songs that I saw the magic of Clarkson. She really is the girl next door with her aw shucks sassy and fun demeanor. Every little comment she made about being home resulted in deafening roars and she punctuated her homegrown flavor with a thick “kuntry” accent. Giving a shout to her friends and family in the audience was just a uproarious for the rest of venue. Clarkson was without any doubt, the homecoming queen for the night.
She could joke about her misstep up the stairs while “trying to be all rock ‘n’ roll” after covering Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” from the middle of the house as a sort of gift to her nosebleed fans. She nodded to fellow Idol winner Carrie Underwood by covering her song, “I Know You Won’t” and the little band of girls next to me had tears in their eyes. She gave those singers nice props which felt rather sweet in comparison to all this “reductive” talk of late. Her setlist never disappointed either.
After five albums and a respectable career, Clarkson displayed some rookie concert moves like splitting the audience into a singing competition or the gimmicky singing in the crowd, but they didn’t matter. She’s just so likeable, that I wanted to join the ride everyone else was on. She and her band boiled down the experience to a simple and strong delivery of straightforward music only punctuating the night with a few stage/screen tricks. And that’s how a concert should be.
Opener Matt Nathanson proved he’s the Kenny Loggins for a new age. He had a healthy cadre of fans and even joked about some guys screaming for him. He was almost a bit too adorable, but his upbeat personality fit the bill just fine for the night.
Fans were eager to bring their poster boards to show some love, but the best was the group of gay boys by me with the sign “I’d Go Straight For You.” And I think they would have.