McEntire, Clarkson merge two worlds into one great show

Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson’s duo tour, “2 Worlds, 2 Voices,” which captivated a full house at

Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson’s duo tour, “2 Worlds, 2 Voices,” which captivated a full house at the Times Union Center Thursday night, was perhaps misnamed.

True, the two do come from different worlds. McEntire has been one of the biggest female country stars for roughly three decades now, while Clarkson has risen from the winner of the first “American Idol” to a bonafide superstar in her own right, based on the strength of bubblegum/hard rock hybrid hits. Musically, at least described on paper, the two couldn’t be more different.

But from the get-go, the duo was clearly occupying one world at the Times Union Center. The show was meticulously crafted, perfectly choreographed and powerfully executed pop but still managed to throw in more than a few curveballs over the course of two hours.

Considering that Clarkson has always touted her admiration for McEntire and that the duo first shared a stage in 2002, it’s perhaps not too surprising that by now, they both know what works. Opening with a creative mash-up of two songs named “Sweet Dreams,” the Eurythmics’ tune and Patsy Cline’s song, the song set the tone for a high-spirited, energetic evening.

The highlights were many and mostly came with the true duets, where McEntire and Clarkson shared lead vocal duties, such as on “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” early on in the set. The two kept things upbeat for the first part of the set, swinging between Clarkson rockers such as “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Walk Away” and McEntire’s no less lively country rock, including “The Fear of Being Alone” and the rollicking honky-tonk of “Why Not Tonight.”

Clarkson’s best moment came on “Stuff Like That There,” a big-band tune that gave her a chance to really strut her stuff vocally. And the 13-piece band certainly wasn’t slacking, either, as this stylistic curveball proved.

Things slowed down for a stretch of ballads, including “Up to the Mountain,” undeniably the duo’s most impressive vocal showcase. Here, Clarkson and McEntire both showed off their formidable pipes with vocal runs that built up to a stunning climax, with neither singer stepping on the other’s toes. “Cathy’s Clown,” which Clarkson revealed as the first McEntire song she ever listened to, was another high point.

The set wasn’t without its share of rough patches. Clarkson’s more brooding material often stuck out like a sore thumb compared to McEntire’s more upbeat country songs. “Miss Independent,” a full-blown pop number, also felt slightly out of place. More often than not, though, the variety was quite welcome, ensuring that neither singer wore out her welcome and that fans of both Clarkson and McEntire were appeased.

Instead of a musical opening act, the audience was treated to laughs courtesy of comedian Melissa Peterman, who co-starred with McEntire on the sitcom “Reba.” Touching on motherhood, drunken karaoke and riding McEntire’s coattails, Peterman helped to set a lighthearted tone for the evening’s main event. Her send-up of McEntire towards the end of her act garnered the biggest applause. Later on, Peterman joined Clarkson and McEntire onstage for an energetic (and quite humorous) run-through of the “Reba” theme song, “I’m a Survivor.”

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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