Review and Photos by Johna Autencio

Grammy-award winning artist Kelly Clarkson has had quite a career after becoming the first season winner of Fox’s singing competition, American Idol, which she won 13 years ago. The Idol alum is one of the few winners whose careers blasted off after the now-cancelled series.

Today, Clarkson is back with a new album and is on the road again for her Piece by Piece tour after taking time off since giving birth to her daughter, River Rose.

On Saturday July 25, Clarkson took the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre along with her three opening acts, Abi Ann, Eric Hutchinson and a’cappella group Pentatonix, who were also winners of a singing competition from NBC’s The Sing-Off.

The show started with 18-year-old singer Abi Ann, an up-and-coming country artist. Performing only 5 songs, it was obvious as to just how nervous she was, given how awkwardly she tried to pump up the crowd. For most of her set, she stayed in front of her mic stand and would occasionally walk up closer to the fans. Unfortunately, she didn’t take advantage of the big stage.

Next performer was pop-funk singer Eric Hutchinson, who couldn’t help but garner attention with his eye-popping sea-green suit. From the moment he stepped on the stage, the energy from the crowd changed. Not only did he and his bandmates have synchronized dance moves, the audience got up and danced with him during his set. Hutchinson is a star on the rise who was generally having a fun time on stage, sharing his music and cracking jokes the entire time. Before performing his last song, he jokingly said, “If you’re just joining us now, I’m Eric Hutchinson, and you just missed the entire set.”

By the time Pentatonix was up for their set, the crowd became 10 times louder. Starting with a cover of Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea’s “Problem,” the talented a’cappella group perfected each note and beat of the song much better than the original. Performing hits from Lady Gaga to Sam Smith; perhaps their best performance of the night was a greatest hits medley from no other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. As soon as they were finished their set, you couldn’t help but want to hear more from them. Overall, Pentatonix is a group worth seeing on their own.

Once Kelly Clarkson got to the stage – comfortably barefoot, the amphitheatre was up on their toes singing and dancing along to her music. Performing a variety of hits from her older albums and newer material, it wasn’t until she toned it down a notch to perform her song “Piece By Piece.”

She explains that the song is about how thankful she is for her husband and for being the best fatherly figure for her daughter and his children that Clarkson herself, never had growing up. In the middle of the song, she became emotional, even cracking in the middle of her performance. Watching her perform the song felt very real, allowing the audience to share in her emotion. By the end of the song, she told the audience that she can always finish singing the lyrics, but in that moment she was thinking about her daughter and that’s when she got emotional. “It’s also that time of the month, tmi,” Clarkson joked to the audience bringing back her high spirits.

Halfway through the show, Clarkson had an open mic performance and allowed a lucky fan named Christina to sing on stage, covering Toronto’s very own, Drake with her version of “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Afterwards, she covered Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and even brought back Pentatonix to the stage to sing her “Heartbeat Song.” As great of a performer that Clarkson is, throughout her concert I couldn’t help but want more. Clarkson is a talented singer, but sadly didn’t hit her usual high notes in some of her songs; particularly her closing track of “Since U Been Gone,” that specific high note before she sings the last chorus was not how I expected it to sound like live.

Needless to say, Clarkson’s concert was an enjoyable time for those who have been fans since her American Idol days and for those newer fans that she has gained over the last few years.

Clarkson will be back in Toronto this October, alongside Nick Jonas.