Mar 5Carrie Underwood, IBM Pulse Conference, Las Vegas, NV 3-04-2013
Halfway through a sold-out show at Citizens Business Bank Arena, Carrie Underwood soared above the crowd for a multisong segment. That high-flying stage served as an apt metaphor for her upward career trajectory since winning “American Idol” in 2005.
The most successful singer to emerge from that show, Underwood has won loads of music awards (last month’s Grammys added another to the total), notched more than a dozen Top 10 country singles as well as pop and adult contemporary chart crossovers, and she has seen all four of her studio albums reach platinum-plus status. She’s even ventured into film and television acting.
Her ongoing tour supporting last May’s Blown Away ranks among 2012′s top-grossing treks. But beyond all that is a memorable voice that can wail with the best of ‘em – and that was in fine form Sunday night in Ontario, where Underwood was the first CBBA music performer when the venue opened in 2008.
As screens projected images of a tornado while a large windmill spun onstage, her eight-piece band provided an ominous sonic introduction. Then Underwood emerged from the doors of a “cellar” to launch the 95-minute set with the energetic stomper “Good Girl.”
The Oklahoma native (who turns 30 on Sunday) looked resplendent as ever; her initial outfit included a metallic studded bracelet and lacy pumps. Her selections mirrored the rundown at Staples Center in October, albeit with a few tweaks. A good chunk of Blown Away was played live, with 2007′s Carnival Ride comprising much of the remainder.
During a rare song introduction, Underwood briefly recalled wearing out “my sister’s cassette tape of this man’s song” as a kid before delivering a subtle take on Randy Travis’ “I Told You So.” An early highlight, it was leavened by weepy pedal-steel accents and light brushstroke drum work.
Fans cheered wildly at the opening dramatic strains of her latest single, “Two Black Cadillacs,” and the star’s hair was strategically blown back as she reached an impressively sustained note. Soon after, she half-chuckled to herself (as if thinking: “OK, here we go”) before attempting another belted bit amid a snatch of the gospel classic “How Great Thou Art,” which she appended to “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
Three musicians and Underwood – now casually dressed in cutoff shorts, a John Fogerty concert T-shirt and fringe vest – were hoisted across the arena for the floating-stage section of the show. Equally laid-back were the choices here, notably standouts “All-American Girl” (boasting soulful vocal flourishes) and a whistling, reggae take on “One Way Ticket,” something that would fit right in at a Kenny Chesney gig. (Underwood tossed out Hawaiian leis while jumbo beach balls bounced atop folks in floor seats.)
Toward night’s end, the fiddle-laden “Flat on the Floor” proved a great showcase for her sassy singing, and the frenzied “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” was a fun country hoedown. Come encore time, the sad ballad “I Know You Won’t” found Underwood emoting while sitting on a bed. Finally, her current title track was a full-fledged finale complete with confetti and fan-triggered LED bracelets (à la Coldplay’s last tour) that had been distributed upon entrance.
Hunter Hayes and his four-member group turned in a 40-minute, eight-song opening set that seemed to gain steam just as they had to quit. The young country sensation, a recent Grammy nominee for best new artist, is a hot property right now since his smash “Wanted” recently topped two of Billboard’s country singles charts, and his solid 2011 major-label bow has been certified gold. A little more playing time wouldn’t have hurt.
Still, Hayes was an engaging presence in Ontario, comfortably displaying his musical prowess on both electric guitar (especially during the John Mayer-esque ending licks on “Somebody’s Heartbreak”) and piano (as with the crowd sing-along “Wanted” and a poignant “Where We Left Off,” from the Act of Valor soundtrack). His lyrics-festooned instruments also were a cool touch. But the hands-down highlight was his feisty closer, “Storm Warning,” during which Hayes leapt around the stage.
Credit – OC Register
Mar 4Carrie Underwood Exclusive Live Event – Thank You Highlights
Mar 2Carrie Underwood, playing Mandalay Bay, pushes back
She sounds like she’s speaking to a younger version of herself.
“Hey good girl, with your head in the clouds,” Carrie Underwood sings on “Good Girl,” the opening track from her most-recent album, “Blown Away.” “I bet I can tell what you’re thinking about.”
That’s such a safe wager that it ceases to qualify as a wager at all.
Flash back to when Underwood first picked the lock on America’s heart in 2005 when she won “American Idol” and released her debut album, “Some Hearts,” a record so sugary sweet, it could remedy insulin shock.
She seemed less a flesh and blood creation than something born of a Mattel assembly line, as precisely put together and market-tested as a new line of Barbie doll.
Three albums later, Underwood remains undeniably wholesome, almost good for you, even, like eating your broccoli.
But at the same time, she’s gone from the most idealized notion of the mythical girl next door to a woman with at least something of an edge.
Just look at the album cover for “Blown Away.”
On it, Underwood looks like a supermodel caught in an thunder storm, a luminous silver gown flowing out behind her.
She’s not smiling.
Instead, her expression is one of steely, purposeful resolve.
Compare this to the “Some Hearts” cover, where she’s captured beaming in the sun, holding a flower, looking as pure and natural as its white petals.
Among that album’s signature hits: “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”
But on “Blown Away,” Underwood’s a woman more in control of her fate, determined to stand up for herself, refusing to be taken advantage of.
On the album’s title track, she gives voice to a girl hoping for a tornado to come and sweep her no-good father away.
“Two Black Cadillacs,” a dramatic, piano-flecked rocker with symphonic flourishes, revolves around a pair of women at the funeral of a man two-timing them both, with intimations that they were responsible for his death.
On “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun,” Underwood dodges love’s bullets, even firing back herself.
“I pulled out my Remington and I loaded up these shells,” she sings. “He’s about to find out I’m a dang good shot myself.”
The females in these songs are assertive and dauntless, something that Underwood has also become.
Clearly, she can see herself in these characters.
None of this is to suggest that Underwood has been a shrinking violet up to this point.
On “Last Name,” from 2007′s “Carnival Ride,” she gets drunk and winds up married to a stranger in Vegas; on “Before He Cheats,” from her debut, she takes a Louisville Slugger to the truck of a philandering ex.
To brand her as a precocious, wide-eyed Pollyanna in the past, then, isn’t wholly accurate.
Nevertheless, Underwood has been marketed as America’s sweetheart from the get-go, and only now are we seeing her really push against that role.
She’s not the deer-hunting spark plug that Miranda Lambert is, but “Blown Away” sees her blossoming into a woman with her own brand of willfulness.
In this way, Underwood has become the true heir to cosmopolitan, yet commanding country queens such as Shania Twain and Faith Hill.
This doesn’t mark a radical shift in direction for Underwood.
Instead, it’s the result of a slow and steady evolution into a woman who no longer seeks assistance when behind the wheel, steering in the direction of her choosing instead.
“Sometimes life leads you down a different road,” she sings knowingly on “Good in Goodbye,” another “Blown Away” track, with said road unfolding behind her in the rearview mirror.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476
Credit – Las Vegas Review Journal
Feb 28Carrie Underwood Strips Down for Intimate Songwriters Session at CRS
Carrie Underwood was in rare form on Wednesday night (Feb. 27), stripped down for a bare bones and relaxed version of not only her hit songs, but herself — just Carrie. The superstar traded designer gowns for a more casual black pants, light jacket look to join top country songwriters Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Josh Kear for a swap of songs, performed acoustically on a small Nashville stage in front of an intimate Country Radio Seminar (CRS) audience.
Laird, Lindsey and Kear have had a hand in many of not only Underwood’s hit songs (‘Jesus Take the Wheel,’ ‘Before He Cheats,’ ‘Blown Away,’ to name a few), but practically every country song you’ve had stuck in your head over the past few years — ‘Pontoon,’ ‘Need You Now,’ ‘A Little Bit Stronger’ … all are on their respective resumes.
On this chilly Nashville evening, each talented artist took turns playing their signature hits — some Underwood, some not — with the ‘Good Girl’ singer chiming in to help with vocals, per the request of the modest songwriters. She also eagerly chimed in to help tell the story of the songs which she had a hand in; she blushed as she spilled how ‘Last Name’ came from a trip to Vegas, during which she a guy’s last name “didn’t stick” and she had to brainstorm ideas to uncover it.
While Underwood is best known for being perhaps the top young female vocalist in country music, she showed on Wednesday that her talents extend far beyond her vocal range. She’s equally as deserving of a nod for her songwriting abilities, something which was illuminated in the company of Laird, Kear, Lindsey and country radio professionals.
*Side Note* – Carrie’s Full Set List
Wine After Whiskey
Two Black Cadillacs
Jesus Take The Wheel
Credit – Taste Of Country