Carrie Underwood is a glamorous pop star, and no amount of country gloss to her music could distract from that fact during her concert at the Orleans Arena last Saturday. While the 2005 American Idol champion’s voice rightfully remained the main attraction, Underwood went through as many costume changes and elaborate set pieces in 100 minutes as one might expect from Britney Spears, without missing a note or seeming rushed.
- Carrie Underwood
- May 22, Orleans Arena
In a bejeweled tuxedo that might have been borrowed from Annie Lennox, Underwood opened the show by rising up on a couch, holding her microphone on a glittering, cane-like stand that matched her outfit. All that eye-catching artifice was surprising from a singer who’s cultivated a down-home country-girl image, but it was mere window dressing for Underwood’s amazing voice.
The spectacle continued throughout the evening, with every one of Underwood’s new outfits and stage configurations. For “Some Hearts,” she sat on a swing that moved up and down amidst the eight-piece band. As she launched into a cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Underwood rose up over the audience in the bed of a full-sized pick-up truck, which then made its way around the arena suspended from the ceiling. For “I Told You So,” recorded as a duet with Randy Travis, Travis appeared via video footage from a virtual Grand Ole Opry.
It was all perhaps a bit much, especially since just standing in place and singing would be enough for Underwood to grab attention. Then again, her catalog is hit-and-miss, and full of faux-inspirational treacle like “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Temporary Home,” both of which got huge responses. Despite her insistence that those songs represent her truest self as an artist (“I built my whole career on this one song,” she said while introducing “Wheel”), Underwood really excels most at attitude-laden kiss-off songs like “Cowboy Casanova,” “Undo It,” “Before He Cheats” and “Songs Like This,” which closed out the show with snippets from “White Liar” and “Single Ladies” woven into it. When Underwood can straddle the line between Miranda Lambert and Beyoncé, that’s when she’s at her best.