Kelly Clarkson, pregnant and powerful in Atlanta at Aaron’s Lakewood

Kelly Clarkson does a mock pose for a fan right before she finishes her signature encore song "Since U Been Gone."

Kelly Clarkson does a mock pose for a fan right before she finishes her signature encore song “Since U Been Gone.” CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, September 11, 2015

It can’t possibly be easy to be on a major national tour and pregnant at the same time.

Kelly Clarkson, who revealed her pregnancy on stage during a Los Angeles concert three weeks ago, is now showing. And in Atlanta last night before a full house at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, she admitted she was uber emotional.

Right before singing “Piece to Piece,” she cried. When she saw a sign by a fan saying she had finished cancer treatment, she cried again. “I’m going to look like Alice Cooper by the end of this,” she sputtered. Then she paused and smiled. “If you don’t know who he is, shut up! I’m old!”

She’s indeed 13 years removed from “American Idol” but 33 years is hardly old.

And vocally, she was in top-notch shape as usual. Her voice remains a comforting, powerful force of nature that never overwhelms. She’s no dancer. She isn’t a fashionista. Her sweet persona and vocals are her killer combo, the reasons 20,000-plus people roughed it at Lakewood even through torrential lightning and thunderstorms before she hit the stage.

She front-loaded the 19-song set with cuts from her latest album “Piece by Piece,” opening with the spirited “Dance With Me” and later filling the shed with her gorgeous “Tightrope.” And it’s a sign of the depth of her discography that she was able to skip several of her hits (e.g. “Catch My Breath,” “People Like Us,” “Already Gone”) and merge “Because of You” and “Breakaway” into one quick sing-along combo.

One disappointment: no special request cover song this time around. Instead, she had held a contest and gave a woman who goes by Prisca a spot to sing an original song. It’s a sweet way for an “American Idol” winner to give back, so to speak.

Fortunately, Prisca was solid and impressively emotive. She didn’t appear remotely intimidated by the crowd, which gave her an appreciative response. “I literally cannot wait to hear your album!” Kelly said to her before hugging her. “She’s so cute. I’m too Target for that. I’m that girl at your local Target!”

After everyone laughed, Kelly added, “I am not sponsored by Target. I just say weird s*** like that!”

Kelly also provided generous airtime to her three back-up singers, who helped her out during a spirited mash-up of “Walk Away” and “Uptown Funk,” followed by a cover of “Bang Bang.” And the entire theater bounced up and down to her signature final song “Since U Been Gone,” a pop delight which is now a decade old.

Okay, now I feel old!

UPDATE: Saturday, September 12, 2015: Apparently, she was having vocal difficulties (I noticed she skipped a high note on “Behind These Hazel Eyes” but didn’t think much of it). Doctors have ordered her to vocal rest and she has had to cancel five dates over the next eight days. Details here.

This was my favorite shot I took of Kelly Clarkson during the "Bang Bang" encore. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

This was my favorite shot I took of Kelly Clarkson during the “Bang Bang” encore. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson with Pentatonix during “Heartbeat Song.”

Kelly Clarkson emoting Kelly Clarkson explaining Kelly Clarkson more emoting Kelly Clarkson on the side Kelly Clarkson pointing

I skipped the two opening acts to work on my Seth MacFarlane story. (The torrential rains encouraged me to pull over at a Subway for dinner anyway). I got to the concert just barely in time for Pentatonix but will call was a bit slow so I missed a couple of their songs.

What I heard I enjoyed. Their success is very much a modern phenomenon, courtesy of tens of millions of YouTube views of their covers and tributes, a victory on NBC’s “The Sing Off,” a diverse quintet that could sub out for the Scooby Doo gang and impressive “Glee”-like a capella skills. And their harmonies sounded as spot on live as they do on the Web. It’s even cooler that they’re now garnering airplay with original songs.

Kelly later said she had watched every YouTube video Pentatonix had ever done even before meeting them on tour and brought them on stage to help sing “Heartbeat Song.”

They also reprised their popular YouTube tribute to Michael Jackson:

Pentatonix bass singer Avi Kaplan. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix bass singer Avi Kaplan. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix Kevin Olusola

Beat Boxer Kevin Olusola. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix Kirstie Maldanado

Mezzo-soprano Kirstie Maldonado. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix Mitch Grassi

Sweet tenor Mitch Grassi. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pentatonix Scott Hoying

Baritone Scott Hoying. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com


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