Concert Review: Kelly Clarkson - "chemistry... an intimate night with Kelly Clarkson" in Las Vegas

Concert Review: Kelly Clarkson - "chemistry... an intimate night with Kelly Clarkson" in Las Vegas

Photo Credits: Rebecca J Michelson, Candace C. and Sky

As a massive fan of Kelly Clarkson since the beginning of her career, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend the limited "chemistry...an intimate night with Kelly Clarkson" residency at the Bakkt Theater in Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas. I have seen Kelly live more than the artist, and I don't plan on stopping that record anytime soon. It was a joy to see her perform a full headlining set after many years, and I already can't wait for the next one! 

Before we dive into the show...ahem, two shows, I attended - I must first talk about the fans. Kelly Clarkson has the reputation of being one of the most friendly celebrities, so it made sense that her fans were also extremely friendly. We arrived in the 'Beat the Line' general admission line a couple hours before the show to ensure that we would have the best spots possible, and the great conversations with all the fans around us made the waiting fly by. Special shout-out to Sky (@skyler65542959), who made over a hundred friendship bracelets to hand out to fellow fans and of course,Kelly and her band! We got the front of the pit together, so I made it into her selfie with Kelly, too! Thank you, Sky, for the friendship bracelet!


I, along with many other diehard KC fans, also brought little red flags, a nod to the song "red flag collector" from the "chemistry" album. Kelly would later thank the fans for waving them after performing the track, noting that she should have thought about that as a merch option! 

So I mentioned I went to two shows - why, you ask? Since these are some of the only shows that Kelly has planned this year, she wanted to make every night of the 10-show residency special. She put up a career-encompassing 67-song playlist on Spotify with a note that 'every night will be different'. This playlist not only had almost every single she's ever released, but also some of my absolute favorite album tracks from all her albums! I had to experience as many of these live as possible - so two shows seemed like an obvious decision.  I attended the shows on August 9th and 12th of 2023. 

The setlist was fantastic, filled with most of Kelly's biggest hits, favorites and selections from her latest album, "chemistry". Kelly was radiant as she walked out to "favorite kind of high", which led perfectly into "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "My Life Would Suck Without You". Even though she very openly told the crowd she was a bit tired at the second show I attended, she still brought her absolute best to every single song. 

5 slots in the setlist were rotated every night - and I was so lucky to get some of my favorites across both nights. My weeks of manifestation worked because at the August 9th show, she performed "Don't Let Me Stop You" on August 9th, my personal favorite from 2011's "All I Ever Wanted" album. She also performed the underrated fan-favorite, "Maybe", resonating with even more emotion than she did on the studio recording. On August 12th, I was lucky to get some more favorites - she performed "Already Gone" and "Dark Side". I should note that Kelly had a few teleprompters on the stage, and with almost 70 songs to learn, it made sense that she would need some help on some of these songs - but it was hilarious every time she made any mistakes because of course, us fans know, and a smirk would come across Kelly's face. It is these little moments that make Kelly such an endearing performer. 

These rotating slots also included a special cover every night, a tradition that Kelly has upheld at her headlining shows for years. Amazingly, she performed "Stuff Like That There" on August 9th, a song that played a pivotal role in helping her win American Idol back in 2002. She chose "7 rings" by Ariana Grande for August 12th, which she ended up singing twice due to technical difficulties with her in-ears that unfortunately seemed to last through the rest of the night. Kelly and her band powered through and of course, still put on an amazing show.

Another highlight from the evening was when Kelly went out into the VIP tables to sing "Breakaway" acoustically. With a ton of distractions, from tipsy audience members attempting to get selfies to celebrities like athletes and Jonathan Van Ness from Netflix's "Queer Eye", the whole segment was hilariously chaotic, with Kelly even singing the first verse twice, unknowingly. 

While all this was happening, one of my favorite sections of the show was being set up. The band was brought forward to create a more intimate setting, and Kelly sang soulful renditions of "Love So Soft", "Walk Away", and "Whole Lotta Woman". With horn players added to the mix and special moments for her talented background singers - these new versions were the best I've ever heard them!

For the final section of the main set, which concluded with a rocking sample-heavy rendition of "Miss Independent", I couldn't believe how powerful "mine", the lead single from the "chemistry" album, was in this live setting. To be honest, this song wasn't one of my favorites from the new album, but now, I am thoroughly convinced. With the crowd singing the chorus, and the extreme emotion emanating from Kelly, this song now has new meaning for me. 

The encore provided a fun climax, with Kelly singing two of her biggest hits, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" and "Since U Been Gone". The sheer joy exuding from Kelly and her band members was infectious - and I will take this moment to highlight them and their music director, Jason Halbert. Not only did they have to arrange and learn almost 70 songs for this residency - but every song was arranged and performed with so much intention and dynamism. 

With Kelly moving to NYC and the writer's strike likely preventing her talk show from starting anytime soon, my wallet is ready for any new gigs and shows she will be doing. We'll also be getting new music very soon, with the deluxe version of "chemistry" due out September 22nd, 2023. I am so glad I made the trip to attend these shows, and I'm ready for the next one!

Photo Credits: Rebecca J Michelson, Candace C. and Sky

Setlist (August 9th):

  1. favorite kind of high
  2. Behind These Hazel Eyes
  3. My Life Would Suck Without You
  4. Don't Let Me Stop You
  5. down to you
  6. Maybe
  7. lighthouse
  8. Catch My Breath
  9. Because of You
  10. me
  11. Breakaway
  12. Love So Soft
  13. Walk Away
  14. Whole Lotta Woman
  15. red flag collector
  16. Stuff Like That There
  17. Move You
  18. mine
  19. Heartbeat Song
  20. Miss Independent
    ---
  21. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
  22. Since U Been Gone

Setlist (August 12th):

  1. favorite kind of high
  2. Behind These Hazel Eyes
  3. My Life Would Suck Without You
  4. Already Gone
  5. Dark Side
  6. high road
  7. lighthouse
  8. Catch My Breath
  9. Because of You
  10. me
  11. Breakaway
  12. Love So Soft
  13. Walk Away
  14. Whole Lotta Woman
  15. red flag collector
  16. Let Me Down
  17. 7 rings
  18. mine
  19. Heartbeat Song
  20. Miss Independent
    ---
  21. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
  22. Since U Been Gone
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On April 19th, Webster Hall was filled with “FLO Lifers” eagerly awaiting the UK girl group FLO who are currently embarking on their “FLO Live” tour. Formed 2019, FLO consists of Jorja Douglas, Renee Downer, & Stella Quaresma. The group’s style distinctly derives from R&B and Hip-Hop from the 1990’s and early 2000s. For a more in-depth analysis FLO’s sound and trajectory watch here (https://youtu.be/i18hpBoW4EU)/ <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i18hpBoW4EU" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Before FLO took the stage, Samaria, an Oakland R&B singer, opened the show. Samaria started with a simple backdrop featuring her name, keys, and drums. The audience seemed familiar with her music and if they were not, they were supportive and living in the moment. Samaria interacted with the audience well and related to them on the basis of terrible ex's and a journey through a toxic relationship. Samaria’s songs had interesting cadences, but what was  missing for us was backing vocals on the track to delineate verses from choruses. After doing some research we found that the “Out of the Way” singer has a sound also inspired by 00s R&B, with a some tracks tracks full of fun guitar licks and drum patterns reminiscent of Timbaland, but none of those instruments were present in her performance. Her backline consisted of a keyboardist and a drummer. Although Samaria sounded good, at times the keyboard’s volume was overpowering.  She worked the stage, nonetheless and  good job. 7.5 out of 10 ! ()SCORE

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CVI-FMictlA" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

https://www.instagram.com/samaria/?hl=en

samaria.lnk.to/shadyhills

Okland R&B Singer, Samaria as the opening act for FLO's tour "FLO Live." Samaria on stage singing with her band.Oakland R&B singer, Samaria performing on stage at Webster Hall as the opening act for FLO (Jorja, Renee and Stella) for their sold out "FLO Live" tour.

Next up was the much-anticipated FLO, and the girls opened with "Not My Job." They were all dressed in black with cute cutouts, and their outfits were shimmery (I love sparkle!) which was a welcome change from their wardrobe at the MOBO awards. Their faces were beat (we love a “natural glam”),

their vocals were tight, and their choreography was utilized well to highlight grooves. The chemistry between the girls was undeniable, and their vocal blend was seamless— absolutely chill-inducing. Jorja's thick vocal tone took the songs to a soulful place, and Stella's airy delivery allowed her to float at the top of the group's harmonies. Renee's smooth, warm alto voice added a coolness to their sound and gained a lot more stability in live singing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention FLO’s band! The band consisted of some past schoolmates, which added another layer of charm to the whole set!

The absolute highlight of the show was "Losing You” In this live arrangement, the girls emoted and connected with the audience on a deeper level. Chris loved harmonized adlibs, brand new bridge and extra outdo including a guitar solo.  As a special treat, FLO performed a cover of Jamelia's version of "Superstar" by Christine Militon.  Even though a majority of the NYC crowd had no clue who Jamelia was and didn't know the song, the girls did teach the chorus before singing the song, so some fans were able to follow along. Chris and I certainly knew the song and even received compliments on synchronized impromptu choreography.

Speaking of choreo…

The girls' choreography was something we were curious to see, and they did not disappoint. They danced well, and they were given grooves as opposed to sharp movements that really complemented each member's personal style. In terms of technique, they aren’t K-pop idols so we weren’t expecting crazy formations and “point dances,” but you can tell they put in the work to provide another layer of entrainment to the experience. There was even some chair-ography for their performance of "Change," a new track about a lover's inability to "do the work" necessary to improve the condition of the relationship.

The girls did perform their latest single, "Fly Girl" ft Missy Elliot, and although Missy Elliot was present in the audience, she did not join the performance.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/flolikethis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@flolikethis</a> big up to Flo out here in the states on the road working hard! Keep doing yall thizzzzle!!!🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flygirl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flygirl</a>💇🏾‍♀️💃🏾💅🏾 <a href="https://t.co/Qtgr2f2KBl">pic.twitter.com/Qtgr2f2KBl</a></p>&mdash; Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) <a href="https://twitter.com/MissyElliott/status/1649101483621728272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 20, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Fans (the FLO Lifers) were absolutely living their best lives! They knew all the words to FLO’s songs—the BGV's and the ad-libs. It was a room full of genuine love and screams! FLO closed the night with their debut single, "Cardboard Box," and this performance featured a heavenly bridge section.

Overall, the show was good, and for this to be the group's first headlining tour, we were impressed with the girls’ improvement from performances like the MOBO Awards, where nerves played a noticeable factor. FLO is worth the hype for sure, and we cannot wait to see the new era of girl groups being led by FLO. For their NYC debut, we rate them a 9 out of 10! FLO Lifers left Webster Hall with unforgettable memories and high expectations for FLO's future performances.