There were no lines at the men’s rooms Wednesday at the Independence Events Center.
While a few hundred men accompanied their wives, dates and daughters to a concert featuring co-headliners the Fray and Kelly Clarkson, the audience of more than 3,000 was predominantly composed of women.
They were treated to an uplifting evening of empowering pop and inspirational soft rock that emphasized the sort of optimism that’s often associated with political conventions. The men in attendance were given little reason to sulk. The fast-paced event was vibrant enough to entertain even the most reluctant concertgoer.
The Fray performed last, but Clarkson was clearly the main attraction. She repeatedly unleashed the mighty voice that propelled her to victory in the inaugural season of “American Idol” 10 years ago.
The Texan has also retained the charming down-to-earth persona that remains a large part of her appeal. Fronting an eight-piece band that included three talented but entirely superfluous background singers, she delivered a riveting hour-long set that was almost flawless.
In addition to exuberant interpretations of her biggest hits including “Since U Been Gone” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Clarkson sang with a projection of Jason Aldean on a slightly histrionic rendition of their duet, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” and offered a soulful reading of “We Are Young” that outstripped Fun’s original hit.
The tenderness she invested in a stark rendering of “A Moment Like This” obliterated the schmaltziness of the chart-topping single from 2002.
Neither the Fray nor opening act Carolina Liar matched Clarkson’s powerhouse performance. The Fray, a likable Denver band celebrating its 10th anniversary, specializes in a soft-hued variation of the arena rock popularized by U2.
The demeanor of Isaac Slade, the band’s primary front person, causes him to resemble a clean-pated knock-off of U2’s Bono. Slade is so painfully earnest and prone to melodrama that he told a fan “I fell for you” after he slipped during a foray through the audience.
The Fray’s monochromatic approach and proclivity for self-importance precipitated a couple lulls in its 70-minute set. Yet the band’s strongest material has an exceptional degree of emotional resonance. Effectively infused with melancholy, readings of “You Found Me” and “How to Save a Life” were powerful.
Carolina Liar established the evening’s stirring tone in a brief outing highlighted by the hit “Show Me What I’m Looking For.”
During her appearance, Clarkson interacted with a sign-wielding 6-year-old girl near the stage. Clarkson reported that the event was the first concert the child had attended. She and her guardians picked a good one.