Whether it is fighting off bugs dancing around her at an outdoor show at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis Sunday night or ramping through an emotionally charged set Kelly Clarkson proved once again that she was the real deal in more ways than one.
Always affable and personable Clarkson displays an infectious personality and playful exuberance whether onstage or off. This makes it easy for her to feel right at home while giving a performance, to which the fans at the show can almost feel like she is performing just for them. That held true on Sunday as she brought her Piece By Piece tour through the Gateway City.
The show itself was a magnificent blend of beautiful sights and sounds with vivid imagery on the video screens, a reforming/moveable wall of rotating metal-backed large video screens, creating a multi-dimensional backdrop to her multi-dimensional vocal range.
Showcasing her voice even more and taking fans input she has the fans at each stop choose a cover song which she would perform for that evening’s show. For the Saint Louis stop the fans chose Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”. Clarkson’s deeply soulful rendition was beautiful, which begs the question: Is there anything Clarkson can’t cover well? Odds are slim to none for that question.
Clarkson took her bubbly personality and made the large 20,000 seat amphitheatre feel like it was a small club setting at times by intermingling with the crowd, telling stories and just being herself – no fake personas or on stage personas to hide behind.
She also joked about having ADHD because she just went off on a tangent about the bugs around her while telling a story about something completely different. Her playful wit throughout the hot and muggy night was warmly appreciated by the crowd.
While her personality is one of the immense appealing qualities about her, her incredible voice just keeps getting stronger, it seems. Thirteen years after winning the inaugural American Idol she keeps proving over and over again that her voice is one of the best in the industry, and her performances are equally stunning.
From the opening salvo of “Dance With Me” and “My Life Would Suck Without You” Clarkson kept the show upbeat, even during slow ballads. Backed by a five-piece band and three backup singers that got to share the spotlight with Clarkson near the end of the show (including having the spotlight for much of “Bang Bang” with a vibrant performance), the arrangement was sound and the band was tight even during a difficult mashup of “Walk Away” infused with a cover of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”.
Clarkson also is choosing one local on each stop to perform a song by themselves in the middle of her set, what she is billing as “open mic night”. The artist chosen for Saint Louis was a woman named Marnie from Oak Grove, MO who performed “Foolish Games” as Clarkson watched from the back of the stage.
Clarkson was due to hit the stage at 9:40 but came out 10 minutes early and rolled easily through the next 85 minutes. The crowd laughed along at her personality and sang along with her songs.
Whether it was the upbeat tempo of “Behind These Hazel Eyes” or “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, which was one of the many highlights of the show, or the slower deeply emotional cuts like “Piece By Piece” or “Breakaway” Clarkson’s shows have just the right blend to please just about any fan.
Sunday’s performance proved again what a special talent Clarkson is.
Acapella group Pentatonix opened (after Abi Ann and Eric Hutchison) with a Gleeful (pun-intended) set that kept their fans happy with an hour long set of covers that even included a portion where they hit nearly two-dozen Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 songs in a span of just a few minutes.
Kelly Clarkson Setlist:
Dance With Me
My Life Would Suck Without You
Catch My Breath
Mr. Know It All
Piece By Piece
Because of You
Take You High (When Doves Cry)
Behind These Hazel Eyes
Foolish Games (open mic)
Valerie (Amy Winehouse cover)
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
Heartbeat Song (With Petatonix)
Walk Away/Uptown Funk
Bang Bang (Jessie J., Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj cover)
Since U Been Gone