The hitmaker is in turned TV maven is in the midst of a limited residency

Kelly Clarkson performed another night of her buzzy Chemistry…An Intimate Evening with Kelly Clarkson on Friday night (Aug 11th) at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

The phrase “antithesis of a Vegas show” is often thrown about too loosely. But this show defines the opposite of opulence. It relies entirely on Clarkson’s vocal chops, the skill of her band, and her uniquely personal connection to the crowd.

Each night is a bevy of what Taylor Swift might call “surprise songs.” Her virtuosic band learned 70 songs for the ten show run at Bakkt Theatre. It’s only ten shows because the Grammy-winner must get back to her day job as a host of an eponymous high-rated talk show. Tongue in cheeky, tough life when seven thousand people show up to hear you do your hobby.

On this night, the crowd was treated to an emotional “Skip This Part,” which she hasn’t played live since the album launch party for Chemistry. Also present was a song Clarkson hasn’t performed since 2008, “Don’t Waste My Time.”

Though decidedly a pop album, to hear songs like “Lighthouse” live cements Clarkson’s irrefutable status as a songwriter. There are new Grammy-worthy numbers that would also easily qualify for the CMAs or ACMs. Since her rise to superstardom, Clarkson has achieved the rare feat of being a pop star who has successfully crossed over into country. In part, thanks to her relationship with Reba McEntire.

Speaking of the country clan, references to Clarkson’s recent break from Reba’s former stepson Brandon Blackstock was a topic alluded to several times. Clarkson opened up about what each song has grown to mean to her throughout her journey to better her mental health. “Red Flag Collector” speaks to this with Clarkson’s signature belting sass. Never too heavy, her blunt style and affable self consciousness was charmingly disarming.

Clarkson took long breaks to chat individually with the crowd, including raving about her visits to Germany for two minutes straight when a fan from the country caught her attention.

The “intimate” portion came in the form of a walkabout in the audience during an acoustic “Breakaway.” It was the most cathartic moment of the night. She also offered bluesy versions of “Walkaway” and “Whole Lotta Woman” with a full horn section.

The night was heavy on Chemistry, but that’s kind of the point for a show meant to promote Clarkson’s latest album. There were also plenty of “Kellyoke” offerings, including Sia’s “Let the Tears Fall” and Lucius’ “The Man I’ll Never Find.” Of course, the hits were there as expected, but this was a true musical exploration of Clarkson’s favorites and her catalogue.

There was no pomp, but it made the circumstance all the more special. No costume changes, no trapdoors. No gimmicks. Just the most powerful vocalist of a generation giving it her all. And I suspect, despite her TV role, after this dry run, this is not the last we will see of Kelly Clarkson on a live stage.