Whether singing of promiscuity in Las Vegas, seeking vengeance on an old flame or the power of divine intervention, Carrie Underwood brought sass, class and irrefutable vocal power to her Wednesday night (Oct. 13) concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Following a brief set from country newcomers Sons of Sylvia, as well as a hit-filled performance by Billy Currington, the Nashville stop on Underwood’s Play On tour began and ended on a rather magical note.
The jam-packed audience had their first glimpse of the blond star as she dramatically elevated from beneath the stage. As the backdrop faded into a busy cityscape, she appeared in the center, perched atop a rotating, fire-red sofa.
Without a hitch — or a drop of sweat or a hair out of place — Underwood brought Music City two hours of dynamic set and wardrobe changes to her performance. Throughout the entire evening, she managed to tastefully and effectively intertwine love, lust, nostalgia and vengeance along with a passionate dose of spirituality.
As though the ringmaster of her own circus, Underwood adorned a floor-length cape covering the back of her tight, flattering black leather pants. Adding to the theatrical ensemble, she completed the look with an accessorized jacket and sky-high stilettos. As she straddled the blood-red mic stand in front of her, she launched the evening with a feisty favorite regarding the infamous devil in disguise — the pesky “Cowboy Casanova” — and appropriately followed with the love-gone-wrong segue, “Quitter.”
“I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s good to be home,” she said. Encouraging the crowd to stand up, dance and sing along, she reminded, “This is Nashville. I know you can sing.”
But she spared no time with chatter as she belted out her inspiring “Wasted” to the crowd’s delight. As a large circus backdrop materialized behind her, Underwood continued with the heartbreakingly beautiful “I Know You Won’t” before closing her first five-song set (signaling a wardrobe change) with a seamless rendition of “Some Hearts.”
As she quickly disappeared, large cumulous clouds whirled by on the large LCD screens above, signaling a possible storm on the horizon. Indeed, Hurricane Carrie had arrived.
As the belle of the ball reappeared — now dressed in a princess pink chiffon skirt with gray corset top — she began round two of her elaborate and detailed set with “Just a Dream.”
“I’ve had a pretty eventful last five years,” she told the crowd, reliving the fears of her last semester of college where she attended Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University.
“Everyone said ’real world this, real world that.’ So, I did what every senior in college would do — try out for a reality show, American Idol.”
Now, at 27, Underwood is a five-time Grammy winner, three-time CMA female vocalist of the year winner and a multiple-platinum artist with numerous No. 1 hits to her name. Expressing sincerity and gratitude for the remarkable turn her life has taken, a farmhouse surfaced on the backdrop behind her before she sang “Temporary Home.”
“I love this song,” she said. “It makes me feel so good to sing it every night. It makes my heart feel good, and I hope every night somebody gets something out of it — even if it’s just one person in the audience.”
And with that, the eloquent entertainer proved exactly where she belonged — in the spotlight. Continuing to captivate the audience, she followed with “Someday When I Stop Loving You,” a beautifully-tender song from her Play On album, and a duet with Sons of Sylvia member Ashley Clark on “What Can I Say.”
Riding the emotional night’s roller coaster, fans were swiftly brought from tears to their feet as Underwood picked up an electric guitar and addressed the screaming, awe-struck women in the crowd with “All-American Girl.” Keeping with this same positive momentum, she broke out into an emotive and vocally rigorous “So Small” before another wardrobe and set change.
Instantly, a larger-than-life Underwood appeared on the oversized monitors showing a video of the star walking through her hometown of Checotah, Okla., past the city lights of Hollywood and ending in Nashville. From the big screen and into thin air, literally, Underwood then emerged in the back of a turquoise truck floating above and out into the crowd.
“I used to sing at our Okra Fest,” she said, explaining how she would often perform from the back of a truck growing up. “But I would say, this is way cooler, and I think right now I have the best seat in the house.”
And with a proverbial nod to John Denver, she created a group singalong to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as she hovered above the adoring and cheering fans beneath her. After singing about her heart bursting at the seams in “This Time,” she landed safely and just in time to perform “Undo It.”
“I think it’s more fun to sing about it than it actually would be to do,” she said, referring to the song’s sassy lyrics. “Because if I could be honest for a second, I wouldn’t change one single solitary thing about my life.”
For her most soul-shaking feat of the night, Underwood sang in front of a cosmic, starry backdrop of shooting stars and the night sky. The lively performer, in her teal embellished top, leather pants and sparkling stilettos, delivered a compassionate and thought-provoking version of “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” As the song came to an unwavering crescendo, she effortlessly enmeshed the riveting, “How Great Thou Art.”
With her final wardrobe and elaborate set change, Underwood slid behind what appeared to be the mold casting of a formal dress to perform “Change” as the gown lit up accordingly to the vibrant and scattered light beams projected towards the backdrop.
Next, she seated herself at a rotating grand piano to belt out her current single, “Mama’s Song,” as childhood photos flashed before her marveling fans.
Concluding the evening on a playful note, Underwood changed into thigh-high boots, a dangerously short and flirty dress (covering what appeared to be black bloomers underneath) to remind fans of her “Last Name.” She continued to bring the heat to “Before He Cheats” as well as the spice to her final and spirited “Songs Like This,” sprinkling lines from Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar” and Beyoncé’s “Put a Ring on It.”
As Underwood exited the stage, fans fervently grasped at the streamers and confetti that fell from the rafters — perhaps trying to hold onto the moment or maybe just pocket a piece of the night’s magic.