Kelly Clarkson at The O2, Dublin : October 10th 2012

Kelly Clarkson is just thirty years old. She is about to bring out a greatest hits. This is something that we find amazing. Ten years ago this girl was wowing the nation with a voice that had bite and passion.

Ten years on and we’re here in The O2, taking in Cover Drive playing an energetic set. The overly excitable crowd is nothing new and as the lights cut, The O2 is plunged into darkness as AC/DC’s Shook Me All Night Long cuts to dubstep with a montage chronicling Kelly Clarkson through the ten years. Fearsome and fiery, Kelly Clarkson is the embodiment of her music. Songs that take a heart churned up in a blender and retaliate with a roaring flame of angst that incinerates any lingering thoughts of frailty.

Powerful and thumping pop, screamed back by her fans feeling every emotion, Behind These Hazel Eyes, I Forgive You and Dark Side are rattled off following My Life Would Suck Without You which opened the valve on this showcase of vigorous pop. “I’m part Irish and part Greek, so I’m a stubborn drunk”, she exclaims as the crowd lap up some stories of Kelly’s experience in Ireland so far. A tender, half-beat start to a cover of the Fun. hit – We Are Young quickly hits pace as Kelly and her backing singers come through the standing crowd to a platform in front of the seated area.

Smiling and waving for fans while segwaying from the Fun. cover into Already Gone before heading back to the stage for a duet with a projection of Jason Aldeon on Don’t You Wanna Stay. However, the impressive visuals are immediately stripped back down for a fans choice, a part of every Clarkson show that makes it unique. Tonight it’s Sinead O’Connor’s version of Nothing Compares To You which makes for a powerful sing along from the Dublin crowd. Kelly tells us it’s a song she and the band have always wanted to do.

A passionate rendition of Because Of You, which we’re all singing like a choir of dysfunctional families, raising goosebumps and starts a visually impressive sprint to the finish line. Breakaway finds a mass love in, as the Wednesday night shackles came flying off as the crowd found  their feet and threw their arms to the air, swaying in perfect rhythm. Kelly’s latest track Catch My Breath was penned by her musical director, and is a song which correlates the last ten years and how Kelly feels about life now. It receives it’s first ever live play here in Dublin and the crowd showed their appreciation for the catchy and radio friendly track. It certainly could be another chart hit for Billboards 14th highest selling artist of the noughties.

Finishing her main set with Since You’ve Been Gone that accelerates The O2 crowd to a pulsating, bouncing and roaring finish. Leaving for a short window and returning with a piano and Never Again to kickstart the encore, three of the big hits were left till last. Mr Know It All, her rip-roaring retort at a judgmental media, followed by Miss Independent spat out with a verve and intensity that so many of Kelly’s tracks are laced with. There was only one track which could finish this night off, Kelly Clarkson’s longest running number 1 hit in the U.S. – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). Thrashing through her song, with the help of Extreme Rhythm showing all the reasons why she is a top class pop star, her huge and powerful voice, her raucous attitude and crowd control pin this hit to the wall as not only one of her best, but proof that she still has it.

A back catalog consisting of songs about heartache and struggles is nothing new to radio friendly pop, what makes Kelly Clarkson’s songs stand out from the rest is this; the message conveyed is not one of self-pity, woe is me or “sure what can you do”. It’s telling you that you can take the blows, over and over and come out the other end a stronger, more empowered person. Throw away those boxes of tissues, man up and meet adversity head on. These are the kind of message we can get behind. A visually and vocally powerful show, The O2 crowd is tonight uplifted by the wrath of Kelly’s back catalog.

No wonder she’s got a greatest hits coming out.

Kelly Clarkson at The O2 Dublin Setlist

My Life Would Suck Without You
Behind These Hazel Eyes
I Forgive You
Dark Side
Just Walk Away
We Are Young (Cover of Fun.)
Already Gone
Don’t You Wanna Stay
Nothing Compares To You
Let Me Down
Because Of You
Catch My Breath
Since You’ve Been Gone

— Encore —
Never Again
Mister Know It All
Miss Independent

Kelly Clarkson at The O2 Dublin Photo Gallery

Photos: Owen Humphreys