This past Saturday marked Kelly Clarkson's first ever concert at Radio City Music Hall, and also her first time ever in the building. Playing to a sold out crowd, she was clearly aware of and elated by the gravity of playing such a historic venue.
New York City *always* comes to Kelly concerts with fists held high (in the name of girl power, of course) and voices prepared to sing each heartbreaking and/or soul strengthening lyric. But this night was particularly special. It was only the fifth show of Kelly's "Stronger Tour," but she performed as if she had been perfecting her set for years. In a sense, she has, evident by the ease with which she sings her decade of massive hits, like "Since U Been Gone," "Because of You," "Miss Independent," "Breakaway," "My Life Would Suck Without You," "Never Again," "Hazel Eyes," "Already Gone," and more, each with a refreshed arrangement from previous tours. For example, "Already Gone" begins with a beautiful yet haunting six-part harmony and "Never Again" turns an angry "You Oughtta Know"-esque anthem into a somber piano ballad.
Kelly also introduced live versions of new songs, "Mr. Know It All," "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)," "Let Me Down," "I Forgive You," "You Love Me," and "Dark Side" as well as an unreleased track, "You Still Won't Know What It's Like." The latter was co-written with her musical director, Jason Halbert to raise awareness for House of Hope Africa, an organization that Kelly and her band have become deeply involved with, which takes in children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, abuse, poverty, and often all three.
Well-selected covers included Florence & the Machine's "Heavy in Your Arms," Barbra Streisand's "My Man" (a nod to nearby Broadway), Carrie Underwood's "I Know You Won't," and Etta James' "I Would Rather Go Blind," a fitting tribute to the legend after her recent passing. It was also an "Oprah full-circle moment" for Kelly, as she originally auditioned for American Idol with a performance of "At Last" nearly ten years ago.
Check out the full setlist below, and click here for a view of all my pictures (including a few of Matt Nathanson, the super silly yet super talented opening act).