Kelly Clarkson’s recent tour this past spring may have been cancelled due to poor ticket sales, but sometimes smarter decisions must be made, and for Clarkson it was bringing the tour back to life with a series of concerts at smaller venues. For her Toronto stop on October 30th, it was one of the city’s best, Massey Hall. The perfect venue for the perky pop rocker from south of the border. The hall is known for great sounding acoustics; fitting for a singer with such strong vocal pipes.
Opening the night was Island Def Jam artist Jon McLaughlin, a singer from Indiana who’s recent single “Beautiful Disaster’” has played all over mainstream and Christian radio and been featured on national television shows like the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I was anticipating this show not only for Clarkson, but for my recent interest in McLaughlin’s music as well. As much as I was looking forward to him, I must admit I had mixed feelings. I expected to hear the strong vocals that I heard when listening to his debut album titled Indiana, but felt his live vocal performance was much more weak; like he was tired, speaking his way through many songs. Despite what I thought was weak vocals, he definitely made up for it in his piano chops. There was nothing upsetting about that. I didn’t see him ever sit still when he played, which shows he’s passionate about the instrument. His fingers glided across the keyboard smoothly and bounced up and down like he was touching a hot oven. The passion of his playing couldn’t hold him still. He stood up every so often and crouched to the floor to release the intensity of his performance. I was so impressed with the way he maneuvered his hands across the keys. Whether it was an off night for him or not, he is a definite front-runner in continuing to make fantastic music and entertain fans all over.
After a short intermission it was time for Kelly Clarkson to entertain the sold out crowd at Massey Hall. The lights dimmed down, and from behind a white ruffled curtain she teased the audience with a few notes from her song “Irvine”. The curtain opened as strobe lights filled the hall to a live version of Clarkson’s “My December” album cover of her sitting on the staircase in a red dress. The band and back up singers along with Clarkson looked like mannequins. It was pretty impressive. She stood up, allowing the red fabric that gave the illusion of a dress to fall to the floor. Dressed in a purple camisole, black pants, and ever so Kelly to be bare foot, Clarkson rocked into her first full song “One Night” off her latest album release. The night of powerhouse vocals continued with hit songs like “Behind These Hazel Eyes”, “Never Again”, “Miss Independent”, and “Sober”.
During the night, Clarkson included moments to showcase her down to earth personality. Personal stories of how songs came about of course included her wit about boy bashing from previous bad experiences and, fitting for the day before Halloween, a pumpkin-carving contest that was held between her band members. A carving of an Amy Winehouse pumpkin and Robot pumpkin were no match for the obvious winner Clarkson; awarded by audience applause to her carving of The 40 Year Old Virgin pumpkin. You may have to watch the movie to get it. Behind her superb talent is definitely a goofy, relatable girl that everyone could be a friend with.
Clarkson continued entertaining fans through out the night with “Addicted”, her favorite song off her My December album. She also performed a chilling stripped down version of “Because of You” with just her and a keyboard. A cover of singer Patty Griffin’s “Up To The Mountain”, a favorite of mine was brilliant. Closing the night in her encore she sang “Sober”, a hidden track on her album “Chivas”, which is a comical song about choosing a drink instead of a man, and of course “Since You Been Gone”, a song the crowd took full participation in.
For most of the night Clarkson had her fans on their feet singing along but it wasn’t until about half way through that it looked more like a rock concert with fans gathered at the front of the stage hoping for a touch of her hand, and for one lucky fan even an autograph while singing her hit “Breakaway”. All night you could hear people screaming the name that was only a few years ago a name known only to family and close friends. Good thing for that little show…what was it? Oh yes, American Idol. I think it’s safe to say that the girl that use to waitress in a little town in Texas, who won a national televised singing competition no longer needs to be introduced as “the original American Idol”. Kelly Clarkson has made a name for herself and has no intentions of fading out of the spotlight.
Writer: Matt Borrelli