Conventional wisdom had it that Kelly Clarkson should be “Already Gone.”
When she won an untested singing competition a decade ago, there was no telling how this would play out for her. But the first “American Idol” winner just keeps going, hitting the top of the charts with her “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” hit and filling concert halls.
She brought her new tour to a sold-out Fox Theatre on Friday night in a show that highlighted her distinct strength (her voice), as well as her weakness (some of her original material, albeit catchy). It was definitely a case of a great voice over occasionally blah material.
Presumably aiming to “shake her fans all night long,” if the prerecorded AC/DC track that blasted just before she took the stage was any indication, the chatty Clarkson was everything one should expect her to be.
Various Clarkson headlines focusing on everything from weight to losing sponsors to her music leaking were flashed across a stage-front transparent screen, and Clarkson appeared behind it for opening song “Dark Side,” from her “Stronger” album. Her band was situated on lighted platforms behind her.
Hits such as “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes” got fans ramped up early, while “Walkaway,” “Already Gone,” “Breakaway,” “Mr. Know It All” and “Miss Independent” kept them on their feet.
But the hits, which are plentiful, reveal the sameness of much of her material. She’s capable of better.
It was when Clarkson expertly took on Florence + the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” and Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” a song that came about because of a fan’s tweet, where she truly soared. She said she just learned the Chapman song earlier that day.
Another highlight was her brilliant take on Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t.” “I stole it because I like it,” she said. We’re grateful she did.
She made them all her own. Her excelling in her cover song choices shouldn’t surprise. She made her name singing others’ songs on “Idol.”
Random “Stronger” album cuts such as “Einstein,” a song she said grew on her, and “I Forgive You” failed to register much.
“Don’t You Wanna Stay,” a duet recorded with country star Jason Aldean, was performed as a virtual duet with a prerecorded Aldean projected on the screen. “You Still Don’t Know What It’s Like,” backed by footage of children in Africa, allowed Clarkson to spread awareness about children with HIV and AIDS there.
Singer Matt Nathanson, whose latest album is “Modern Love,” opened with a solid set that leaned heavily on pop-rock songs from the album. His set included the title track, “Bottom of the Sea,” “Run” (which he wrote with members of Sugarland) and “Room @ the End of the World,” described as a love song about the apocalypse. The latter nicely dipped into Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
His rhythmic “Faster” required synchronized hand clapping and moves from fans that felt like a bit like work.
“Behind These Hazel Eyes”
“Since U Been Gone”
“You Love Me”
“Heavy in Your Arms”
“Give Me One Reason”
“I Know You Won’t”
“Don’t You Wanna Stay”
“I Forgive You”
“You Still Don’t Know What It’s Like”
“Mr. Know It All”
“Because of You”
“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”
“My Life Would Suck Without You”