America's first Idol took the stage last night at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City in only the second stop on her new tour.  Kelly Clarkson was all business when it came to belting out her hits, and all congeniality when it came to fan interaction.  By far my favorite night of 2012 so far! This 'Stronger' tour in support of her latest CD is Kelly's most elaborate stage production to date.  And even though the album was only just released in late 2011, admirers shouted out every song lyric of new material like 'The War Is Over' and 'I Forgive You' just the same as classics like 'Since U Been Gone'.


Unlike her counterpart divas, I counted only 3 wardrobe changes the entire evening.  Clarkson's main focus was on her vocal range and entertaining her audience, including pointing out many  fandom-adorned concert goers and reading personal emails from those who attended.  It seems most of her set list was fan chosen through tweets, texts and Facebook posts.  An effort that shows she's tapped into not only those who first voted her into celebrity 10 years ago on American Idol, but this socially interactive generation as well.

For me, two of the night's highlights came from songs Kelly sang that aren't even her own.  Like covering 'Heavy' by Florence and The Machine, and Carrie Underwood's haunting ballad 'I Know You Won't', which she decided to 'steal' from her fellow Idol after seeing her perform the tune live in Las Vegas.  I actually think last night, Kelly outsang Carrie on that song.




Even Jason Aldean made an appearance...sort of.  Kelly had the country star projected onto a giant video screen so they could recreate the emotion of their hit duet 'Don't You Wanna Stay'.

From the opener 'Dark Side', to the paired down version of 'Already Gone', to a medley of fan favorites including 'The Trouble With Love' from her first release, to the encore ('Never Again', 'Because of You', 'Mr. Know It All/Miss Independent'), Kelly gave all she had to give.  And even still, I wanted more.  It was a complete fan experience that saw her singing from the back of the auditorium and walking through the crowd tapping hands along the way, and even accepting custom dog tags tossed onto the stage.  Humble and pleasing, Kelly proved with every note why she is still America's most beloved Idol.

Up next for Clarkson?  The Superbowl National Anthem, a live performance on the Grammy Awards, and a guest stint on NBC's 'The Voice'.

Here Kelly Clarkson every day playing on SoJO 104.9.