Six Superlative Summer Shows

Our music critic's picks for the season's hottest concerts

Kelly Clarkson

My New York–area concert summer ended, as it did last year, with a commanding female singer taking over the stage at Jones Beach. In 2010, it was Stevie Nicks; this year, it was the inaugural American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who despite complaints of a hangover powered through the resilience anthem "Stronger," and the still-fresh-despite-karaoke-flogging "Since U Been Gone." She has been covering one different song a night for a while—when I saw her in January at Radio City Music Hall, she took on Florence + the Machine—and while her particular selection at Jones Beach was a slight disappointment (Gotye's overplayed breakup rumination "Somebody That I Used To Know"; no Billy Joel in honor of the Long Island setting, Kelly?), her charisma and chops and aw-shucks-homebody niceness made my companion enthuse to me at the end of the show, "She is just the best person ever." An added bonus of seeing shows while breathing in Jones Beach's sea air: The bucolic setting even made the buzz saw whine of co-headliners the Fray somewhat palatable, even when they ill-advisedly dipped their toes into the Motown-cover pool.

mjohnston@villagevoice.com

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