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Concert Reviews:
Kelly Clarkson approach hits the right note at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- It may be time for Kelly Clarkson to have her pop diva credentials re-evaluated.

The inaugural "American Idol" champion's 90-minute show Sunday night, July 26, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre had no dancers or choreography, no pops or pyrotechnics, not even any confetti. There were a modest four outfit changes, and even the video walls behind the stage were used more for mood than spectacle.

Clearly, someone forgot to give Clarkson the rule book.

Then again, the Texas native has never been a standard issue diva. During the 13 years since her "Idol" win she's followed her own defiant muse, bravely if sometimes to her commercial detriment, and has always recognized that the greatest weapon in her particular arsenal is her big, emotive voice. And that's exactly what she pushed to the fore on Sunday, along with a down-home, folksy personality clearly endeared the near-capacity family-filled crowd at DTE.

The key moment where all those attributes came together was during "Piece By Piece," the title track from Clarkson's latest album which she explained stemmed from a conversation with her sister -- who was at Sunday's show -- about their absentee father and that also pays tribute to her husband Brandon Blackstock. Accompanied only by piano -- "That just makes it sadder," she noted -- the barefoot Clarkson's rendition was genuinely emotional, ending with her voice cracking and the singer tearing up.

She hit plenty of other highpoints through the night, including particularly high-octane performances of "Nostalgic," "Invincible," a medley of "Because of You" and "Breakaway," "Behind These Hazel Eyes," "Take You High" and "Stronger." She introduced YouTube singer Karlye Walker as the night's "Open Mic" winner, watching as she performed Counting Crows' "Colorblind." The fan request was Tove Lo's "Habits," while the Classic Kelly nod went to the country-flavored "Low" from her debut album and a capella group Pentatonix -- whose support set, featuring the first performance of the quintet's original "Can't Sleep Love," was almost as rapturously received as Clarkson's -- joined her for "Heartbeat Song" and provided the opening for a mash-up of her "Walk Away" and Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk."

The encore rendition of the Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj hit "Bang Bang," spotlighting Clarkson's three backup singers, felt a bit superfluous, but she regained the throttle with "Miss Independent" and the closing "Since U Been Gone." It was a singer's show, and Clarkson proved herself well up to that task on Sunday.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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