Sometimes the best things that happen in life are planned with each and every detail in place. However, sometimes spontaneity takes over and something even more exciting happens. From all accounts, that’s what happened on March 7, 2004 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken were two of the best selling new artists in 2003. They joined forces in early 2004 for their first major nationwide headlining tour. Called the “Independent” tour, the two RCA stars performed in 30 cities. Because they were two of America’s most talented young entertainers, they alternated as headliners on the tour.
After stops in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington D.C. and New York, the artists found their way to Pennsylvania and the beautiful area of Wilkes-Barre.
Kelly opened the show with an exciting set that showed off her range and love of singing and entertaining. Her performance of Beautiful Disaster was, according to some fans, “off the charts.” It was evident that the crowd liked Kelly, but because so many did not stand during her performance, most speculated that it was a Clay crowd.
During intermission, a real buzz started up in the Wachovia Arena. Many of the fans knew in advance about what to expect, but when Clay came in from the back singing Kyrie, the entire audience rose to their feet. According to reports from fans, Clay was energetic and having a wonderful time. Everything was going as planned and the crowd was excited.
But, as with all plans, there can be a twist. That night, the unexpected event ended up the highlight of the evening. Clay and his back-up singers were settled on stools across the front of the stage. They were joined by only two other musicians, the guitarist and the pianist. It was time for the acoustic section of the concert.
When Clay started singing Measure of A Man, he sang the first word and immediately, most of the audience began to softly sing along. Clay held the mike out to the audience and the singing sounded beautiful. Clay stopped singing and signaled to his back-ups singers to also stop so the crowd could continue. According to one fan: “It was like our love song to Clay and he knew that we meant it for him.” Another fan said: “The crowd literally poured its heart out singing to him and the look on his face and on the faces of Angela and Quiana as they wiped tears away – just overwhelming. I get choked up just thinking about it. It was such a spontaneous moment and I feel so blessed to have been there.”
The rest of the acoustic set was particularly beautiful and everyone on the stage and in the audience realized that they had just experienced a very special moment.
The Wilkes-Barre concert continued with Clay’s exciting performance of When Doves Cry. Clay was ready to have fun and seemed to be having a good time kidding around with his back-up singer, Angela. At one point, Angela pulled Clay so hard that he stumbled. He laughed so hard that he could not continue singing for a few moments.
The end of his set found Clay sitting on a speaker singing The Way. Somehow, the musicians missed a cue and the beginning of the beautiful song was way off. Clay stopped and said that they were going to start again and after a bit of laughter from the musicians and the audience, Clay sang the song beautifully.
As always, Kelly and Clay ended the concert with a duet of Open Arms. They showed everyone that they were, indeed good friends.
Wilkes-Barre and the Pennsylvania Clay fans welcomed the Independent Tour with lots of excitement. They had a large pre-party before the concert and participated in signing the banner for Clay that traveled from venue to venue. They also put up a billboard on the highway welcoming Clay and the tour to their area. The Wachovia Arena holds around 8000 people and was 98% sold. Pennsylvania certainly showed their love and support for Clay that night.
SueReu put together a wonderful video highlighting the special performance in Wilkes-Barre. ENJOY!!!!
Did you tear up a bit? I did!!