Kelly Clarkson Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls - March 3, 2012

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 AM ET

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. - She may have almost taken a header during her second encore song and huge hit, Because of You, but Texas belter Kelly Clarkson was otherwise in top form during the first of two sold-out nights at Fallsview Casino Resort on Friday evening.

“You caught me,” the spirited and likeable 29-year-old singer said to a fan at the front as she came close to falling as she sang the ballad towards the end of her hour-and-20 minute set.

“In my defence - it was pitch black up here!” she joked afterwards, recovering nicely with two major rockers - Mr. Know It All and Miss Independent - which put a nice rock-pop punctuation on the end of the show.

Otherwise, up to that point, the American Idol: Season One winner, backed by her eight-piece band, including Canadian guitarist Cory Churko, had really let it rip vocally - making it look effortless - as she easily tackled pop, rock, blues, soul and gospel.

Versatile, yes. Graceful, maybe not so much, but who cares?

“I’m just trailer park trash from Texas!” she gleefully joked early in the show.

Still, as anyone who caught Clarkson beautifully deliver the American National Anthem - much harder than it looks - at this year’s Super Bowl knows, she’s got the chops.

Opening the night with the mid-tempo ballad, Dark Side, from her 2011 album, Stronger, Clarkson - dressed down in a black leather jacket and matching biker boots, black jeans and a sparkly halter top, slowly brought her show to a boil.

By the next two songs, Behind These Hazel Eyes and Since You’ve Been Gone, she had revved things up nicely, flirting with her guitarists, and putting that big, bold voice on full display.

“What’s up Canada?” said Clarkson. “I haven’t been here in a while.”

Things then went from good to great when she ventured out into the audience, climbing up on a small makeshift stage in the aisles for a cover of Florence + The Machine’s Heavy In Your Arms, from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.

But no sooner was she close enough to touch than she was back up on the stage explaining her love of all things Twilight and Florence Welch.

“She’s the new Annie Lennox,” Clarkson said of Welch, the lead singer of Florence + The Machine.

And of Twilight she said: “The books are better because your mind has no budget!”

There was a definite girlishness about Clarkson and it will be interesting to see how she grows as she develops into a more mature artist.

Then it was time for the audience request portion of the evening and while previous set lists had her tackling Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- a perfect fit for her voice -- on Friday night it was the less inspiring new song, Hello, from Stronger with all of the band, except for the drummer and keyboardist, seated in a semi-circle around Clarkson.

Thankfully, the show picked up from there with a four-song medley from her 10-year-career with such standouts as the ballad Trouble With Love and the up-tempo Walk Away.

Clarkson also had gave credit where credit was due explaining that when she and American Idol: Sean Four winner Carrie Underwood both appeared at an event, she fell in love with Underwood’s song, I Know You Won’t, that she decided to do the gospel-influenced number in her live show.

“Secular music wasn’t the way when I was a kid,” explained Clarkson. “I love gospel music.”

From there, the hits and highlights flowed easily - Already Gone, which began with all of the band singing in harmony acapella; Breakaway, which caused many of the audience members to stand, wave their arms over their head and sing along; You Still Won’t Know, inspired by the children she met during a visit to Africa and the subsequent charity that she supports, housesofhopeafrica.com; her current No. 1 hit What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger), and the set-ending wonderfully-named pop-rocker, My Life Would Suck Without You.

The encore began innocently enough with a stripped down version of the ballad Never Again, featuring just Clarkson and her piano player, lending a distinct creepiness to the song, she admitted afterwards.

“I’m not sure what that means about me psychologically,” she joked. “I’m crazy and I love it.”

Crazy like a fox maybe.

Clarkson can pretty much sing the heck out of any genre of music and that is a feat that should definitely be applauded.

SET LIST:

Dark Side

Behind These Hazel Eyes

Since U Been Gone

You Love Me

Heavy in Your Arms (Florence + the Machine cover)

Hello

Medley - The Trouble With Love Is / Walk Away / How I Feel / I Want You

I Know You Won’t (Carrie Underwood cover)

Already Gone

Breakaway

You Still Won’t Know

Stronger

My Life Would Suck Without You

Encore:

Never Again

Because of You

Mr. Know it All

Miss Independent


Photos