The Carrie Underwood of 2004, the one that had never stepped on a plane, would marvel at the Carrie Underwood of 2010, married and headlining sold-out shows all over America.
She’s come a long way, baby, paraphrasing that old Virginia Slims slogan.
At a sold-out Gwinnett Arena, Carrie’s vocals were consistently spectacular, her outfits fun and her eight-piece band impeccable. The nearly two-hour, 21-song concert was a full meal with dessert and wine included. She has vastly improved even from her 2008 co-headlining tour with Keith Urban. She’s self assured but not cocky, moves around the stage with ease and didn’t let occasional high-tech wizardry take away from her fundamental girl-next-door essence.
With five years of concert experience, three full albums and 12 big country hits under her belt, Carrie was ready to do her own solo headlining gig. She mixed up album cuts, choice covers and the sing-a-long hits for a well-paced melange. The stage itself as a technical marvel, allowing the band to shift spots and giving Carrie multiple spots to sing. The coolest device was a multi-level, hydraulic platform that at times looked like a wedding cake, often lifting her 20 or more feet in the air.
One of her vocal highlights was her first big single “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a song she expects she’ll be singing the rest of her life in concert (along with “Before He Cheats,” for sure). She brought the crowd to its feet with a snippet of “How Great Thou Art” with a vocal display that hit us in the solar plexus.
She also did a duet of “I Told You So” with Randy Travis - in a sense. Travis provided a taped version of himself on the big screen behind her. It could have been cheesy but it worked.
The highlight of the show was Carrie covering John Denver’s classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads” while elevated over the crowd in a pick-up truck.
Sure, she said she was once deathly afraid of heights but not anymore! Here’s video:
And a shout-out to Kelly & Carrie Fan, who kept me company during the concert. (Email me your review. I’ll post it tomorrow!)
She wore at least a half-dozen different outfits. A couple might have made Michael Kors blanch, but on the most part, they were a tasteful blend of sexy and demure. Here is her opening tux get-up:
Next up: a country dress. She even got to sit on a swing during “Just a Dream.”
She only alluded to “American Idol” in passing, adding, “By golly, I think everything turned out alright.” Yes, it did.
1. Cowboy Casanova
4. I Know You Won’t
5. Some Hearts (Marshall Crenshaw cover)
6. Just a Dream
7. Temporary Home
8. Someday When I Stop Loving You
9. All American Girl
10. So Small
11. Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver cover)
12. This Time
13. Undo It
14. Jesus, Take The Wheel / How Great Thou Art
15. What Can I Say
17. I Told You So
18. Mama’s Song
19. Last Name
20. Before He Cheats
21. Songs Like This