Crying at Kelly Clarkson’s Las Vegas residency was something I fully expected to happen. But what I didn’t anticipate was the cathartic journey I would embark on. On Aug. 2, the three-time Grammy winner performed her third show of “Chemistry… An Intimate Night With Kelly Clarkson” at Planet Hollywood’s Bakkt Theater. And similarly to her latest album, which her residency is named after, Clarkson took the audience through an array of emotions as she reflected on the highs and low of love while immersing the crowd in music that spanned her two-decades-long career.
Clarkson kicked off the night with one of her newer songs, “Favorite Kind of High,” before diving into a medley of some of her greatest hits, including “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “I Do Not Hook Up,” “Catch My Breath,” and “Because of You.”
“There’s something so special and cool about music. It’s so powerful. Everybody in this room might not know everybody, but you’re here for a good time, escapism, to hear some good music,” Clarkson told the crowd. “I think that’s awesome. That’s the coolest thing about music, is to be able to heal.”
The 41-year-old singer also performed her favorite song from the “Chemistry” album, “Lighthouse,” which is about the end of her relationship with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock, whom she split from in 2020 after nearly seven years of marriage. In March 2022, the former couple settled their divorce, and they share joint custody of their two kids, River, 9, and Remington, 7. Clarkson prefaced the track by saying, “It’s super depressing, I’m just going to be real with you. I was on a flight like 30,000 feet in the air and I was just really sad, ’cause you fall in love and you think it’s going to last. Nobody plans on it [exploding], but it happens.”
She continued: “Anyway, this song, for me personally, writing it was like, ‘OK, I can’t. There’s no more try. I don’t have anymore try left.’ You’re really empty and you feel like your light is just about out.”
However, Clarkson once again made it clear that “Chemistry” is not a divorce album. “The whole point of this album was not to be some kind of divorce record. Yes, very angry. There’s a lot of sadness there, there’s a lot of that there, but there’s also moments for me that were beautiful and real and felt like fighting for,” Clarkson said before launching into “Magic.” “This next song is so magical,” she continued. “Relationships are hard, but there’s that thing that keeps you coming back and just wading through the red flags, and it’s called magic, and I had never felt that before in my whole life. And I know that it’s been a rough one for me and my family, but the fact that I get to die having felt that is pretty cool, ’cause not everybody gets to feel that.”
Still, perhaps the most emotional moment of the entire night was when Clarkson brought out 11-year-old singer Sadaya Paige to perform a duet of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” “I fell in love with this little girl. She came on my talk show, and she’s so powerful. She’s this little, tiny thing, but she is so powerful and just breaks your heart in the most beautiful way. The kind of soulful singing that you hear that if you don’t feel moved, you need to get help cause you’re dead inside,” Clarkson said just moments before Sadaya walked out on stage accompanied by her mom, Dora J.
Clarkson was first introduced to the blind singer when she appeared on an episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” back in March, and it’s safe to say there were no dry eyes in the theater after their performance. “A lot of people can sing, but not a lot of people move you. I say that a lot, especially on ‘The Voice,’ but I mean it. There’s not a lot of people that can really move you and do something so powerful that it’s unexplainable,” Clarkson told the crowd.
Of the special moment, Sadaya’s mom, Dora, told POPSUGAR that her daughter “felt like she was living her dream.” “Her dream has always been to sing on stage in front of thousands of people, and Kelly made that happen,” she explained. “Sadaya felt and heard the entire audience’s positive vibrations of cheer and applaud. She says it was the most amazing experience ever.” Dora also shared some words of inspiration from Sadaya herself, adding, “‘No matter what differences or disabilities you may have, you can do anything you put your mind to and never give up. Just remember to stay magical!'”
Clarkson closed out the night by singing a few more of her hits, along with some of her newer material, including her son’s favorite song, “Whole Lotta Woman,” and her daughter’s favorite, “Heartbeat Song.” “Thank you so much for singing along,” Clarkson said to the audience. “You have no idea how powerful that is for someone to go through something and connect with people. And I’m sorry if you relate to it, but if you’re human, you probably relate to it, you’ve probably been through something similar. Anyway, I just want to say thank you. It’s really special, and it feels almost like a spiritual place you go to, where everybody is connecting and singing together. Thank you.”
From start to finish, Clarkson’s show felt like the therapy session I needed. I laughed, I cried, and I sang my heart out — all within the span of two hours. Regardless of whether you’re her number one fan or not, Clarkson’s residency is definitely a must see if you’re in Vegas anytime soon. Limited tickets are still available for the remaining shows on Aug. 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 18, and 19 on Ticketmaster.