Kelly Clarkson: Live Last Night

kelly clarkson

Live Last Night

By Dave McKenna

Kelly Clarkson, at 27, is a better singer than she's ever been. But she's nowhere near as fun.

At a less than half full Patriot Center on Friday, Clarkson offered rockier material than that usually associated with the original American Idol. She held her own on "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon, "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes, and a hardcore blues version of the Black Keys' "Lies."

(A lack of energy makes for a lackluster set, after the jump.)

She growled in all the right places during Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight." And Clarkson's bravery also came through during "Ready," a song she wrote for her latest CD that was inspired by her public feud with industry mogul Clive Davis over musical direction, a battle that forced her to cancel a 2007 tour and put her career in jeopardy. (Judging by the small crowd, that squabble's wounds haven't all healed.) Clarkson didn't rely on the full-out shriek nearly as often as in past performances but, as shown during the domestic-damage chronicle "Because of You," she can still wail when the moment's right.

But whatever artistic growth the late-model Clarkson offers was offset by a dearth of the energy she used to bring along. Plainly, Clarkson isn't yet in show shape as she kicks off her 2009 tour. Whereas previous performances were aerobic workouts all about kinetic energy and explosions of joy, this time out she didn't work the stage at all. Her go-to dance move of the past, a sort of un-selfconscious running-man step, wasn't gone to as Clarkson rendered perfectly crafted pop hits like "Miss Independent" and "Walk Away." Like the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth taking a knee on the sidelines during a defensive stand, Clarkson unplugged "Behind These Hazel Eyes" so she could take a break.

She barely danced during disco tunes "Never Again" and "If I Can't Have You," the latter of which sounds a lot like vintage Human League. She hopped a bit during the set-closing "Since U Been Gone," but while grabbing at her clothing as if afraid some layers were going to fall off.

These days, Clarkson's a fine singer with great songs. She used to be much more.

By David Malitz |  October 12, 2009; 7:17 AM ET Live Last Night
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Wow. Were we at the same concert? This was my fifth time seeing Miss Clarkson, and to me, she just gets better and better each time. My friends and I had a blast, and judging from the dancing and singing around us, so did everyone else. And aren't we snarky when we say "Clarkson unplugged "Behind These Hazel Eyes" so she could take a break." Are you kidding? Apparently you're not one who appreciates variety.

Personally, my favorite moments were when she stripped things down and showcased all of the beautiful nuances of her voice. Like it or not, Kelly is evolving. She won't be our perfectly perky pop princess forever, thank God.

Posted by: AnnaBella3 | October 12, 2009 8:27 AM

I like this comment from someone who linked to this piece:

"Dear Dave McKenna of the Washington Post -- if you want to attack Kelly Clarkson for not being at the weight at which you'd like to see her, just say it directly and skip all the innuendo and loaded words you used instead. Thanks."

Posted by: dmdisab | October 12, 2009 9:39 AM

1st-CONCERT & EVENTS HALF HOUSE - half a house is the norm for the Patriot Center. Rob Thomas seating is "Half House"...I didn't see empty seats unless they were WAY UP FAR.
And, I agree with the other poster "we're we at the same concert". Kelly had plenty of energy...she NEVER danced when she sang "Never Again"...disco?
but, her voice is better than ever...she is a great singer with fine got that completely backwards....but what should I expect from an entertainment report that has to use Redsinks analogies.

Posted by: maggiemae47 | October 12, 2009 10:41 AM

FYI Maggie, not all shows at the P Center are half-house. The TOOL show back in July was a full house setting with the stage at the back of the basketball floor with a full floor area. A half-house has the stage at mid-court with only half the floor open.

Just saying.

Posted by: EricS2 | October 12, 2009 3:32 PM

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