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Carrie Underwood sweetly entertains sold-out Gwinnett Arena

Carrie Underwood wore some pretty ugly dresses but managed to make them look good because she's, well, Carrie Underwood! CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Carrie Underwood wore some pretty ugly dresses but managed to make them look good because she's, well, Carrie Underwood! CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Carrie Underwood is seven years removed from her triumphant “American Idol” victory but 16 hits later, multiple concert tours and enough awards to fill a mansion, she is still classy enough to credit the show for her presence on the Gwinnett Arena stage last night.

She is so sweet and likable, that she could probably sit on a stool and sing a capella and the crowd would love her. But she had a full-blown band, of course, and a full-blown stage set up, including a mid-concert liftoff on a faux balloon ride with her band to the center of the arena (sans the lonely drummer). There was confetti, dry ice, massive odd-angled high-def screens and Carrie’s incredible voice. Even though she was clearly suffering from a cold, that couldn’t stop her from gunning through 21 songs. The huskiness in her voice at times gave the songs some surprising heft, too.

And she has so many hits under her belt, she was able to skip a few, including “Mama’s Song,” “So Small” and “All American Girl,” to no ill effect. She designed the show to ebb and flow without ever losing the crowd.

She opened the show with two big, brawny No. 1 hits “Good Girl” and “Undo It,” then dialed it back with two of her best ballads”Wasted” and “I Told You So.” She then mixed it up with her new single “Two Black Cadillacs” followed by a hit parade of “Last Name,” “Temporary Home,” “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and “Cowboy Casanova.”

While floating above the stage, she snuck in a few non hits, including “Get Out Of This Town,” “Crazy Dreams” and the Jimmy Buffett-esque “One Way Ticket” replete with four big beach balloons thrown into the crowd. She did a duet with a video version of Brad Paisley for “Remind Me,” similar to how she did “I Told You So” with a video Randy Travis in 2010. Then she did a real duet with her opening act Hunter Hayes.

She ended her pre-encore set with her biggest cross-over hit “Before He Cheats,” which she is fated to sing the rest of her career – or at least get the entire audience to sing for her.

Though her life appears calm and fruitful, she used the “Blown Away” analogy in her encore of her recent No. 1 song “Blown Away” with tornado imagery and both confetti and a burst of geyser-like air behind her to close the show with a bang.

Read my recap from her 2010 concert.

The set was slightly shorter than some other concerts she’s done, probably to save her voice a bit. So there was no cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” something she has done quite a bit on the tour so far.

Read AJC Music Scene blogger Melissa Ruggieri’s review.

Here’s a photographic summary of the show and her five outfit changes. Enjoy!

Carrie in outfit No. 1 in close up. It looks better from the waist up anyway.

Carrie in outfit No. 1 in close up. It looks better from the waist up anyway.

Here's the dress in fuller form just moments after she entered the stage.

Here's the dress in fuller form just moments after she entered the stage.

That megawatt smile!

That megawatt smile!

Her second outfit, an interesting pastel mish mosh.

Her second outfit, an interesting pastel mish mosh.

Carrie's second outfit in full. Whaddya think?

Carrie's second outfit in full. Whaddya think?

Carrie waves to someone in the rafters.

Carrie waves to someone in the rafters.

Her most "country" outfit was the one she used while floating over the stage.

Her most "country" outfit was the one she used while floating over the audience.

The hot-air balloon set up over the middle of the arena.

The hot-air balloon set up over the middle of the arena.

During "One Way Ticket," the crowd gets hit with confetti.

During "One Way Ticket," the crowd gets hit with confetti.

A fuller shot of her third outfit from above.

A fuller shot of her third outfit from above.

A waist-up shot of her glittery mess of a fourth outift.

A waist-up shot of her glittery mess of a fourth outift.

Carrie duets with Grammy nominated newcomer Hunter Hayes, who opened the show

Carrie duets with Grammy nominated newcomer Hunter Hayes, who opened the show. Those are spangly tight pants on Carrie!

Carrie ends the show singing "Blown Away" with a blast of confetti and fake smoke.

Carrie ends the show singing "Blown Away" with a blast of confetti and fake smoke and her fifth and most formal outfit of the night.

Carrie departs through a trap door at the end of the Gwinnett Arena concert Wednesday night. ALL PHOTOS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Carrie departs through a trap door at the end of the Gwinnett Arena concert Wednesday night. Until next time! ALL PHOTOS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Here is Carrie singing one of my favorite Carrie songs: “I Told You So.”

It's always fun as a photographer when the act appears to be staring you in the face. I have shots of Scotty McCreery and Lee DeWyze doing the same thing. In this case, it's opener Hunter Hayes.

It's always fun as a photographer when the act appears to be staring you in the face. I have shots of Scotty McCreery and Lee DeWyze doing the same thing. In this case, it's opener Hunter Hayes.

I may have missed a song but here’s the set list from last night. Interestingly, only seven repeats from the 2010 concert:

Good Girl
Undo It
Wasted
I Told You So
Two Black Cadillacs
Last Name
Temporary Home
Jesus Take the Wheel
Cowboy Casanova
Get Out Of This Town
Nobody Ever Told You
Thank God For Hometowns
Crazy Dreams
One Way Ticket
Leave Love Alone
Remind Me
Cupid’s Got a Shotgun
Before He Cheats
Encore:
Blown Away

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15 comments Add your comment

[...] (For more photos from Wednesday’s show, check out our gallery. My colleague Rodney Ho, who handles all things “Idol” also has his take and some more photos on his blog.) [...]

Deirdre

December 20th, 2012
12:36 pm

Thanks Rodney. Carrie is beautiful as always but I have to agree with you on her dresses!

DanJ

December 20th, 2012
12:37 pm

Congrats Rodney. Great photos and review! If I had to pick I would say that Carrie is my favorite Idol of all time in a close vote…sorry Kelly.

Branch Loveless

December 20th, 2012
1:36 pm

Carrie could wear a burlap sack and make it look good! She’s just got it going on, y’know? And that smile——-OMG!

Thanks for all the pics, Mr. Ho.

Rodney Ho

December 20th, 2012
1:49 pm

In other “Idol”-related news: Simon Cowell is dating Carmen Electra. And one of my favs from last year made it into the top 40 this year, according to MJ’s spoiler list. But another one isn’t.

JTesla

December 20th, 2012
1:50 pm

I agree with Branch.

Fashion Rodney? I guess you have to keep the people happy. Great pictures.

JTesla

December 20th, 2012
1:54 pm

Carmen Electra? I hope he has a hermetically sealed body suit.

Rodney Ho

December 20th, 2012
2:00 pm

What’s there to say about Carrie’s voice except it’s divine? So may as well focus on some of her rather hideous outfit choices. Yet somehow, she looks fine in them all.

Mercedes S.

December 20th, 2012
2:46 pm

Thanks for photos of Carrie’s hideous outfits, RoHo! They make her look human. Don’t want to start any pregnancy rumours, but in these pictures her face is round, her décolletage ahem, très décolletè, her body chunky, and she looks very happy…

Mercedes S.

December 20th, 2012
2:48 pm

I mean of course décolleté. My French teacher would mind.

Harriett

December 20th, 2012
2:52 pm

Hey, everyone. I have been scarce around here, due to end-of-semestet wrapping up—grades in, etc, and today we are closing shortly for the Christmas/holiday break. I will probably peek in from time to time during the break, but some of you may be off and not here to say this to, but please, all have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year’s Eve, if I don’t catch up with you during the holidays.

missnadine

December 20th, 2012
6:39 pm

What she wears is pretty much right off the runway, like it or not! She looks great – so fit – and like others have said, she can wear anything :)

Dum-Bass

December 20th, 2012
7:42 pm

OR nothing at all.

Woodpappy

December 21st, 2012
8:34 am

You too Harriett and the rest of the folks here, Merry Christmas.

1st mate

December 26th, 2012
7:21 am

whom ever is dressing Carrie needs to be fired. She looks like a rooster. Beautiful gal, but those outfits are hidious.