Friday 24 January 2020

Review: Kelly Clarkson, The Olympia, Dublin

Kelly Clarkson. Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Clarkson. Photo: Getty Images
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

IT'S slightly surreal that a multi-million selling 'American Idol' winner is playing the intimate confines of the Olympia rather than the cavernous O2.

"I'm a sucker for theatre shows," she announces to a cacophony of enthusiastic screams. "I like to see everyone's faces."

The lighting towers must have been designed for far bigger venues and are, quite literally, blinding. Normally, one's chief concern at a typical Olympia concert would be volume, but seconds into the show and one is craving sunglasses.

Kicking off with the title track from her most recent album, 'All I Ever Wanted', Clarkson and her band run straight into 'Miss Independent' without pausing for breath. Unlike most of her peers, she has more than enough material from four albums to play a full show.

However, she still throws in an occasional cover. 'Use Somebody' by Kings of Leon is stripped back and re-invented as a pleading pop-rock number, showcasing her powerful voice and why she has been called the "Lance Armstrong of vocal chords".

Whatever about Kings of Leon, it's a surprise to hear her tackle Patsy Cline's 'Walking After Midnight'. Admittedly, it's a fantastic song, although the histrionics don't do it any favours.

Clarkson's rock-based backing band and AC/DC introduction music prove just how much guitar music has infiltrated modern pop. Like teen-pop giant Miley Cyrus, Clarkson treads a hybrid of the two and the sugar-sweet girl/boy pop of yore is deemed dated and dull.

While this makes for better entertainment, sometimes you'd yearn for one or the other. The intriguingly titled 'My Life Would Suck Without You' and 'Some Girls Have All the Luck' possess an almost punky directness.

The 'Pop Idol' and 'X Factor'-style of TV show has usurped 'Big Brother' as the all-conquering global television franchise. There is no better indication of its pervasiveness than one of the format's biggest proteges taking over the Olympia and looking very much at home.

Irish Independent

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