It started out as a not-so-great weekend. It was a 3-day, for some 4-day, long weekend, and there we were on a Saturday with nothing to do. We decided to head off to Tagaytay for an early dinner, so ay least we don’t feel like such losers. Then, maybe within 10 minutes of entering the SLEX, we get a text from Luis of Greenwich, asking if Delle and I wanted to watch Kelly Clarkson’s concert that night, since they had 2 spare tickets. Are you serious? I couldn’t believe my luck. I really wanted to catch Kelly in concert, because she and Carrie Underwood are by far still my most favorite American Idol graduates, plus the most successful. Kelly Clarkson still is the best selling Idol worldwide, while Carrie Underwood has the best-selling Idol album in the U.S. I had to make sure it wasn’t a prank, because it sounded too good to be true. So we ended up just eating a quick snack in the Nuvali area and rushed back to Manila.
Delle and I met up with Luis and Tintin at the Araneta center since we were sitting with them. And a tip, the Starbucks in Araneta is unique: half the cafe is accessible from outside, half is accessible from the inside. They won’t allow you to bring in your drinks, so if you plan to drink coffee inside the coliseum, you have to buy from the inside, or buy it from the outside and make abot to someone from the inside.
Miguel Escueta was already performing when we got there. He was a trooper, giving it his best despite being apologetic for being the front act. The crowd appreciated the humility. And then for the third straight time, as I decide that there’s still time for one last wiwi, the show starts while I’m in the toilet. By the time I got back inside, blind like a bat, Kelly was already ripping through her first song, the rousing “All I Ever Wanted”.
Suffice it to say, she was INCREDIBLE. From the first note, to the very last, her voice never wavered. She would hit the inhumanly high notes with such ease, as if it were the easiest thing to do. In fact, it’s easy to underappreciate just how good she is because supply of vocal greatness much outweighed the supply. She was so simple and down-to-earth. She wore the same outfit from start to finish, changed only for the encore, no fancy sets (although the lighting was FANTASTIC), no back-up dancers, just good old-fashioned kick-ass singing. it seemed like she hardly cared about how she looked like, in fact she has this awesome self-deprecating humor.
She seemed genuinely surprised at how rabid her fans are here in the Philippines. At one part, she reached down to the crowd to shake their hands and she joked something like: “Don’t take my ring. And don’t hurt yourselves, I’m not Jesus; I’m not worth it.” She’d also rib herself about always writing depressing songs. You can sense a great sadness inside of her, but it’s as if she’s made peace with it. I don’t know if this would make sense, but it’s like, she’s got sadness inside of her, but she’s not sad?
Before the concert, everyone was abuzz about how big she’s become since winning Idol. And I’m pretty familiar with it, having seen pictures in the American tabloids. But she wasn’t at all as big as everyone was tittering about. True, she’s become evidently bottom-heavy, but what I like about her is that she seems comfortable with who and what she is. At no point did she seem embarrassed about her weight. She’d jump around, even with her gut protruding at times, and she doesn’t give an owl’s hoot about what people might think. She knows it’s all about the vocals. She’s not a performer like Lady Gaga or Pink, she mostly just stands in front of the mike or jumps around during fast songs, but her pipes really get your full attention.
She slayed with all of her chart hits, like “Breakaway”, “Sober”, “Because of You”, the final song “Since You’ve Been Gone”, and her encore that brought the house down, “My Life Would Suck Without You”. And in a nice twist, as she sang that song, she pointed to the bigscreens and this was flashed:
So sweet, I just wonder what the story behind that was. For a moment I thought it was a proposal, ala-Julia Fordham when someone proposed during her concert here. If you guys know the back story, please do let me know. The only songs Kelly didn’t sing was her coronation song, “A Moment Like This” and the cult fave, “Beautiful Disaster”. But my favorite moment was when she sang a mash-up of Alanis Morissette’s “That I Would Be Good” and King Of Leon’s “Use Somebody”. I love the interplay between one song saying, “I’ll be okay even if I’m all alone”, then segueing it with a song that says, “But then, I could really use somebody”. Genius. I had chills up my spine! And although my favorite Kelly song is “Since You’ve Been Gone”, I must say I was most carried away when she sang “My Life Would Suck Without You.” I had goosebumps when everyone was just jumping and screaming their lungs out singing to the song.
I’d really just like to thank once again Luis and Tintin for inviting us to watch the concert with them. We’re really overwhelmed by such a random act of kindness. Thanks guys (sniff)! It’s always nice to catch artists performing live, even after their peak, but it’s altogether a different high when you catch them at the height of their powers. To be able to catch THE Kelly Clarkson live at her vocal peak is a chance of a lifetime. I can’t choose between Kelly and Carrie because I love them both equally. So now that I’ve seen Kelly, I need to attract the good energy to be able to catch Carrie next.
Kelly, my iPod will suck without you!