WEST VALLEY CITY — She’s one of the biggest stars in country and pop music.
So it only seems fitting that her big voice be put on display on a big stage with a really big show production.
A full Maverik Center on Wednesday night screamed, yelled, shrieked and shrilled with approval as Carrie Underwood delivered a hits heavy two hour show.
“You guys are so loud,” she told the crowd at one point. “I like that.”
Hitting the stage with, “Good Girl,” the first single off her latest album, Blown Away (the namesake of the tour), Underwood delivered crowd favorites “Cowboy Cassanova,” “Last Name,” “Undo It,” “Jesus Take the Wheel,” “Wasted” and “I Told You So.” Teen girls throughout the arena sang along to “All American Girl.” The former American Idol winner also talked about the joy of writing her own music before launching into “Temporary Home.”
And that was all just within the first ten songs.
Concerts for A-list country music stars have become the modern day rock concerts of the 1980’s – their stage productions are really really Texas-sized big.
Underwood’s spectacle was no exception. Giant mobile digital screens, a ton of strobe lights, a large stage with moving parts all added visually to the entertaining show. During the second half of the concert, Underwood, two of her band members and a square piece of the stage were lifted off the main stage and hovered over the crowd to the opposite side of the arena in a kind of old-fashioned hot-air balloon effect.
As visually impressive as the stage production was, the overwhelming majority of cell phone cameras were still pointed at Underwood all evening. The leggy blonde went through four costumes herself during the night, switching from dresses to a pair of Daisy Dukes, heels, boots and even a glittery outfit with rhinestones from neck to toe.
There’s no doubt Underwood delivered a very polished show. But if there’s any criticism to be given, it’s that at times her show was a bit too polished.
It seemed like Underwood (like most country acts) was shooting for the country show with the rock-n-roll attitude. The songs leading up to the lights going down before the main curtain dropped were anything but country. Underwood even delivered a cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” on Wednesday.
But rock-n-roll works best when it’s unpredictable. Sure, the set list has essentially been the same night after night for the North American tour leg. But as I watched Underwood’s concert Wednesday, I thought back to Shania Twain at the Delta Center in 2003 for her Up! Tour, one of highest grossing tours of 2003-2004. Twain also delivered an extremely polished show. But she added enough unpredictable moments (you never knew when she was going to pull another fan on stage) that she somehow made the massive stage show feel a lot more intimate.
How much media attention did Underwood’s kiss with that 12-year-old fan receive? There were no first kiss moments Wednesday night. And no, that does not mean she needs to kiss more 12-year-old boys on stage to make a better show. But it’s in that spirit of unpredictable “rock-n-roll” moments that Underwood’s well-crafted, well-rehearsed stage show could use a little more.
With that said, what also stood out in my mind from Wednesday’s show was the grandmotherly looking woman in front of me with her eyes glued to the stage all night, a big smile on her face from start to finish, who sang along to every word. I also think of the teen girls behind me who also sang and danced to every song. And the fans on the main floor, both guys and girls, who stood for the entire two hours.
Bottom line was that Underwood delivered exactly what her fans wanted.
Her powerhouse vocals were in first class form from start to finish as she belted out big notes during her video screen “duet” with Brad Paisley on “Remind Me.”
Her personality on stage also shined brightly, constantly smiling and frequently waving to people in the audience.
Underwood, who is at her best with her scorned-girl-gets-even songs finished the main set with her debut single, “Before He Cheats,” and closed out the encore with “I Know You Won’t” and “Blown Away.”