Kelly Clarkson, Maverik Center, 3/20

West Valley City — A lot has been written about Kelly Clarkson since winning American Idol ten years ago, not all of it positive.

But one thing that can’t be denied by even her worst critics is that the girl can sing!

Clarkson and her powerhouse vocals were at the Maverik Center Tuesday night, belting out a crowd pleasing 90 minutes of pop hits and songs off her latest album, Stronger. She opened with “Dark Side” off her latest album – a love song about accepting someone despite their imperfections – coming on stage with images of many of the negative headlines that have been written about her (similar to the “Mr. Know It All” video) projected on a white sheet hanging in front of the stage.

From there, Clarkson launched into a double shot of two of her biggest hits, “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Since U Been Gone.”

Despite her latest album being mostly about empowerment, the strong-willed Clarkson, known for being Miss Independent, showed no ego on stage, coming off as a down-to-earth performer. At times during her story telling between songs – complete with a Texas accent and a bunch of y’alls – she seemed almost to have a hint of nerves, despite being an international superstar. Again, displaying a very girl-next-door likability.

But when it came to singing, she exuded nothing but strong confidence. Clarkson’s vocal range seemed to grow wider as the night progressed.

A self-proclaimed lover of music, Clarkson mixed the arrangements on some of her songs, playing an acoustic version of “Walk Away” and a solo acoustic performance with only piano accompaniment for the usually aggressive “Never Again.”

Clarkson poked fun at herself when introducing, “I Forgive You.” With many songs in her catalog about bad break-ups, Clarkson joked that obviously she didn’t write that one.

She also delivered several cover songs including Florence and the Machine, Goo Goo Dolls and a soaring version of Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t” that was one of the best songs of the evening. On this tour, Kelly is playing a different cover song in each city, as chosen by fans, so that each tour stop has its own unique song in the set list. Utah’s song was “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls.

Clarkson’s velvet voice continued to shine in “Already Gone” and “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” her duet with Jason Aldean that actually featured Aldean Tuesday night via the power of a projector and giant screen.

The end of the show included the crowd pleasing hits, “Breakaway,” “Because of You,” “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger),” “Mr, Know It All” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.”

Overall, a satisfying night of music from a very likeable performer.

Opener Matt Nathanson should be commended for working the crowd as well as he did. The folkie-rock guitarist with his catalog of songs about “Scrabble” (as he delicately put it for the younger audience members) including his hit “Come On Get Higher” and his duet with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, “Run,” could have easily just phoned-in an opening set before a half-full arena without giving it much effort, and no one would have likely cared.

But Nathanson had the crowd on their feet for synchronized clapping and singing by the end of the show, and did it in a good-natured way so audience members didn’t feel cheaply manipulated. Strong vocals and good guitar playing combined for a well played opening set.

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