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Concert Reviews:
Kelly Clarkson rocks cars.com auto show party at The Fillmore

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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DETROIT -- Kelly Clarkson did a make-good on Tuesday night, Jan. 10, at the Fillmore Detroit.

And that was good news all the way around.

The inaugural "American Idol" champ was slated to perform at Cars.com's annual Best Of Awards -- an invitation-only affair that's one of the hottest parties of North American International Auto Show Week -- last January but was sidelined by a pregnancy (she gave birth to a son, her second child, last April). She made up for the miss with a robust and stripped-down 85-minute set that hit all of her career highlights, from her first hit "Since U Been Gone" to her interpretation for "It's Quiet Uptown" from last month's "Hamilton Mixtape."

The Texas native may come from the pop diva world, but Clarkson has always been less ostentatious than many of her peers, and Tuesday's show allowed the singer and her band -- five musicians and three backup singers -- to be even more austere. With no real visual trappings save for a mirrorball employed during a couple of the 20 songs, Clarkson wore her hair down and long and sported just one dress the entire show.

Instead the focus was on her voice, which was in fine form whether she was belting out rockers such as "Dance With Me," "Mr. Know It All," "Walk Away" and "Miss Independent" or emoting through power ballads such as the stripped-down "Piece By Piece," the Sia-written "Invincible" and the sugary "Breakaway." Clarkson's between-song patter was often swallowed up in the din of the selfie-absorbed room, but the sheer volume of hits -- including the chart-toppers "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" -- caught the partygoers' attention when they needed to.

The evening, which also included a buoyant set of synth-pop from St. Lucia, was about the cars, too. With Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath serving as high-octane host, Chrysler's Pacifica took home Best Car of 2017 honors joining the night's other winners: Mazda's MX-5 Miata, Play Car of the Year; the BMW 7 Series, Luxury Car of the Year; Toyota's Prius, Eco Friendly Car of the Year; the Nissan Rogue, Family Car of the Year; and the Ford F150 Raptor, Pickup Truck of the Year.

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