1. Headlining Mix 94.1’s annual holiday concert, Clarkson only got to play for an hour, even with just two openers playing short sets, and that meant that she left out both big hits and new songs, plus the eclectic covers she’s known for including in her live shows. But she and her five-piece band (plus three back-up singers) made the most of the short time, running through 14 songs, including four from R&B-heavy new album Meaning of Life.
2. Clarkson added a three-piece horn section for the Life songs, including infectious new single “Love So Soft” and set closer “Whole Lotta Woman,” a brash empowerment anthem that Clarkson declared was “my favorite song to perform, ever.” She also gushed about nearly every other song in the setlist, but it was clear she was happy to let loose on something new, and if pop radio figures out what to do with this song, it could end up one of her signature numbers.
3. The soul influence extended to older favorites, with the horn section augmenting “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “Since U Been Gone,” while both “Walk Away” and “Miss Independent” got full-on soul makeovers, which helped breathe some new life into songs that Clarkson has been playing live for more than a decade now.
4. If she had to throw in a Christmas song, at least Clarkson chose her recent single “Christmas Eve,” an energetic original that was released in conjunction with her latest children’s book, rather than a holiday perennial that’s been performed to death. (She did note, however, that anyone who doesn’t enjoy Christmas music must be “evil,” so her perspective might slightly differ on that point.)
5. Ever since Clarkson performed a stripped-down version of “Piece by Piece” on American Idol in 2016, that’s been the version of the song that people most want to hear, and she delivered on the song’s emotion accompanied only by keyboardist Jason Halbert. It was a raw and vulnerable moment from a singer who’s always personable and relatable in concert.