Pop superstar Kelly Clarkson's Meaning of Life Tour came through L.A. on Jan. 26. The original "American Idol" moved the masses, both physically and emotionally, in the Staples Center with her career-spanning set. Clarkson was still very much that off-the-cuff personality that won TV talent competition 16 years ago in a concert that felt full circle for her and the fans.
Meaning of Life is the latest album by Clarkson, but the title of the tour took on another meaning when it became clear that she would be running through most of her life's work. Only a few miles away from the Kodak Theater (now Dolby Theater) where she won "Idol" after millions cast their votes for her, Kelly opened the Staples Center show with an abridged, acoustic version of "A Moment Like This," her coronation song that started it all. Then she brought it back to the current day with one of her most recent singles, the sassy "Love So Soft."
Every Clarkson album since 2003's Thankful was represented by at least one song on the setlist. She experienced some technical difficulties with her earpiece during "Behind these Hazel Eyes" from 2004's Breakaway album and said, "I hope I sounded good." Then she put her hand to ear like another certain pop diva and joked, "I had my Mariah ear going." Most artists stick to script for each show, but Kelly has always been that one to speak her mind, so hearing her banter was another great element of the show. "Have fun drinking while I'm sweating up here," she told the people at the bar by the stage.
On the production side of things, it was just Kelly, her band, background singers and a few giant screens. Her powerhouse voice took hits like "Breakaway" and "Piece by Piece" to new heights. Like on "Idol" a few years ago, Kelly got especially emotional belting out the latter song. "My kids are here," she said. "If I become a hot mess, it's fine. Laugh with me." The section after included fan favorites cuts like "Sober" from 2007's My December and "Beautiful Disaster" that appeared on Thankful and Breakaway. "I loved this song so much I put it on two albums," Clarkson said before going into her beautiful rendition.
Clarkson later brought her A Minute and a Glass of Wine web series to the show and broadcast it on Facebook Live. With a glass of wine in hand, she offered a few nuggets wisdom. "We always need a moment to chill," she said. "Enjoy your time with your families. If you don't like your job then quit." John Legend then joined her on-stage and the two delivered a haunting performance of their duet "Run Run Run" from 2015's Piece by Piece. Kelly upped the ante when her opening acts Brynn Cartelli and Kelsea Ballerini appeared to sing "Miss Independent" with her in a total girl-power moment.
Over a decade after her "Idol" win, Clarkson still had her legion of fans at her command. When she raised her fist in the air for "Stronger" from the 2011 album of the same name, many fists went up in solidarity. For the show closer "Since U Been Gone," her biggest hit, Kelly yelled, "Everyone jump!" And the crowd bopped up and down just like in the 2004 music video. Her walk down memory lane was sentimental and spectacular. Some people wait a lifetime for a concert like this.