On Monday (1st of October) Kelly Clarkson shook up Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena with a performance that was simultaneously energetic and heartfelt. She blew all expectations out of the water and captivated every audience member with one of the biggest voices in the pop industry.
Supporting Clarkson was Melbourne’s own Sarah De Bono (ex-contestant of ‘The Voice’). This tall red headed bombshell is both pleasing to the eye and ear, but whether she actually managed to entertain the audience was a definite factor to be questioned. Performing only three originals, her set grew boring and lacked much character, which became apparent when the audience’s applause seemed polite and unenthused. It would seem that these reality competitions don’t necessarily prepare artists for the real world. At this level of live performance, acoustic covers just don’t cut it.
Formed in 2002 The Fray have become apart of the sound track for just about every popular western television show, but in terms of live performance their music is quite stagnant. Front man, Isaac Slade definitely carried the performance making his way all around Rod Laver Arena singing and interacting with the audience.
The band performed their smash hit ‘You Found Me’ second in their set which really amped up the audience and it was nice seeing Slade transition from the microphone to piano. And although he maintained interaction with the crowd it was a shame to see that the band seemed quite separate on stage and didn’t really connect with one another. They seemed to be more of an accompaniment then a band and struggled to engage the audience in that regard. However all these aspects seemed to be forgotten when they played their biggest hits ‘How To Save A Life’ and ‘Cable Car’ when the audience echoed every word they sang. Disappointingly the band ended on a song that not many audience members seemed to know, as they were mostly familiar with the hits anyway.
After a short intermission Rod Laver Arena’s stage finally light up and following a short electronic sounding intro, Kelly Clarkson made her way onto the stage for her opening number, ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’. She had the audience on their feet immediately. She then kicked off the classics that we know and love Kelly for with ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes’, which had every audience member on their feet but disappointingly she didn’t go for the huge gut-wrenching note at the end of the bridge. Also the use of a wind machine in that song seemed a little out-dated.
Its always heart warming to see a artist who genuinely does what they do because they truly love making music for their fans which came across heavily. Towards the beginning of her set Clarkson gave a big shout out to Sarah De Bono and The Fray and really showed her admiration. With her, lets face it, pretty cute southern accent and light-hearted humour she came across as absolutely charming and modest which was refreshing coming from someone with both her stature and talent.
Her famed track ‘Walk Away’ got a big crowd response, which this was partially to do with the amazing connection Kelly managed to make with her band. A lesser-known song and one that to be honest I wasn’t familiar with myself entitled ‘You Love Me’ really captured the audience’s attention, especially considering she introduced it as being about how the music industry is “full of assholes”.
Kelly was so believable when singing and really performed the songs wholeheartedly. And perhaps this is a little bias but regardless of what the media has speculated in the past, it was nice to see a girl with full curves and of normal weight on stage for once.
The concert became even more intimate when Clarkson left the main stage and appeared on a smaller one set up at the back of the mosh pit area and in front of the lighting desk where she performed ‘Already Gone’ which was lovely and note needs to be made of her backing vocalists who were also full figured women with beautiful voices and pitch perfect harmonisation skills. Unfortunately however choice of wardrobe let all three backing vocalists down. Even Kelly’s wardrobe was quite poor, she for the majority of the show was sporting jeans and a loose singlet top.
After a few more songs Clarkson made her way back to the main stage where she performed Jason Aldean’s duet ‘Don’t You Want To Stay Here’ alongside her guitarist, which was a nice change in the mix of songs, having a nice country/rock sound. The two had great chemistry performing together and finished the song with a big hug. A lucky audience member got up out of his seat and became extremely excited when Kelly announced that she her next song, ‘Honestly’ was requested by this fan.
Two of the biggest crowd responses were easily for ‘Because of You’ and ‘Breakaway’ which Clarkson did beautifully as the crowd went crazy but I couldn’t help but be drawn to the back up singers. While their harmonies were beautiful, they just seemed to look awkward at times.
It was nice to see Clarkson sink so comfortably into the performance alongside her band that she made a huge deal about at the end of the performance and sweetly introduced them all individually. After a quick wardrobe change, which again was quite a poor choice of attire, a tight black dress, she returned to the stage for a three-song encore. She began with ‘Never Again’, which began with just piano and was just hauntingly beautiful. She then sang ‘Mr Know It All’, and finished with the hit that changed it all for her ‘Miss Independent’ and the audience loved every second.
She thanked her audience again before leaving the stage on a standing ovation. It’s incredible how far Clarkson has come since American Idol. Such a joyous performer with an incredible voice, she definitely knows how to put on an energetic fun show for people of all ages to enjoy.