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November 12, 2018

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Review: Passionate Kelly Clarkson sings hits, talks baby and weight gain

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Erik Kabik / ErikKabik.com

Kelly Clarkson performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Kelly Clarkson at Mandalay Bay

Kelly Clarkson performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Kelly Clarkson at Chelsea Ballroom

Kelly Clarkson performs at Chelsea Ballroom in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Kelly Clarkson showed that she might be one of the most relatable pop stars in music right now during her “Piece by Piece Tour” stop at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.

The “American Idol” Season 1 champion and Grammy Award-winning singer opened up to the audience about relationship pitfalls, trouble losing baby weight and the impact of not having her father around.

Clarkson hit the stage about 9:30 p.m. after a dynamic performance by a cappella group Pentatonix. Rocking an all-black outfit with gold, glittered embellishment, she opted out of high-heeled shoes and went barefoot.

The Texas singer opened her concert with the upbeat “Dance With Me” from her March release “Piece By Piece,” her first in four years. Though the tour is meant to promote “Piece by Piece,” Clarkson performed about half of the album.

The rest of the show consisted of older songs and hits from her 13-year music catalog, including “Walk Away,” “Since You’ve Been Gone,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and more.

After performing her hit “My Life Would Suck Without You,” she introduced herself to the audience and thanked them for coming to the concert, especially since she had not been on tour since 2013 due to having her first child.

“I made a baby, and it was horrible,” she joked. “She’s amazing, but the process I could do without!”

Although Clarkson has made countless tracks in her career about heartbreak and overcoming obstacles, “Piece By Piece” is said to be one of her most emotional records yet.

She brought that passion to the stage Saturday night when she performed a slowed-down version of her title track “Piece by Piece” with only a pianist. Clarkson explained that she was inspired to write the track after a conversation with her sister about growing up without a father.

“This song is about how lucky we were to find such great lovers to be daddies to our children because that doesn’t always happen for people, especially girls with daddy issues,” she said. “ ‘Piece by Piece’ goes out to all those girls.”

In the song, Clarkson shows gratitude to her husband, Brandon Blackstock, who she said saved her from the damage that her father caused. In the chorus, she sings, “Piece by piece, he restored my faith that a man can be kind and a father could stay.”

While performing the song, Clarkson paused a couple of times in order to hold back tears, but she quickly pulled it together as the crowd cheered her on.

“Excuse me, y’all,” she said. “It’s just the part about my daughter that gets me. I could never imagine leaving her. … I guess my dad missed out.”

The crowd roared in support, and she went on to perform her 2004 hit “Because of You.”

Toward the middle of the 2-hour set, Clarkson swapped positions with one of her backup singers and allowed her to take the stage. With undeniable spunk and sass, the singer performed Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary (Rolling Down the River)” as the crowd rooted for her.

Clarkson smiled from ear to ear as she watched her protege command the stage.

“I do this because there are so many talented people who don’t get to have a spotlight,” Clarkson said. “These girls are so talented. They could easily be in my shoes.”

At each of the shows on the tour, Clarkson takes requests to cover other artist’s songs. On Saturday night, she gave Lana Del Rey’s “Off to the Races” her own touch and made the song hers.

Near the end of the show, Clarkson told the audience that she had a surprise, then welcomed Pentatonix back to the stage to perform “Heartbeat Song” with her. While they were singing, someone from the audience threw a black hat onstage. Clarkson picked it up and put it on her head as she finished the song.

She also performed a mash-up of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and her “Walk Away.” The show became even more interactive when she split the audience in half and gave them different parts of the song to sing.

Clarkson and her backup singers suddenly ran offstage as if the concert were over, but then returned within about a minute as the crowd pleaded for an encore. They performed Arianna Grande’s “Bang Bang” before going into Clarkson’s “Miss Independent.”

Before wrapping, Clarkson joked that the audience better sing along to “Since You’ve Been Gone” or she would throw her microphone at them. This turned out to be unnecessary as the 12,000-seat arena was full of people singing every word.

Clarkson captured the hearts of fans ranging from preteens to middle-aged adults by being herself through her music and personality. She reminded them of why they have loved her since her “American Idol” days.

Saturday night’s setlist included “Dance With Me,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “Catch My Breath,” “Nostalgic,” “Mr. Know It All,” “Invincible,” “Piece by Piece,” “Because of You”/“Breakaway,” “Tightrope,” “Take You High”/“When Doves Cry,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Proud Mary (Rolling Down the River),” “Off to the Races,” “Thankful,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Heartbeat Song” and “Walk Away”/“Uptown Funk.” Encore: “Bang Bang,” “Miss Independent” and “Since You’ve Been Gone.”

Abi Ann, Eric Hutchinson and Pentatonix served as the opening acts.

Kailyn Brown is a Las Vegas Sun intern.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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