Carrie Underwood lets the music do the talking on Storyteller Tour
February 18, 2016 12:09 AM
Steve Jennings photo
Carrie Underwood on the Storyteller Tour.
Carrie Underwood performing in the round on the Storyteller Tour.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Would Carrie Underwood survive a zombie apocalypse? During her surprising guest spot Sunday night on “Talking Dead,” fans of “The Walking Dead” voted thumbs down by a landslide.
But what we do know about this Louisville Slugger-wielding country girl from Oklahoma is that she’s grace under pressure and rises up to the challenge live just about every time, as she did on “American Idol,” on the Grammys Monday night and at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.
Fresh from a 12-day tour break, she was back in front of her core following, hitting a stage the length of the Consol ice to relaunch her Storyteller Tour — Stories in the Round. It supports “Storyteller,” a fifth album devoted to the kind of narrative songs that have been her calling card the past decade.
She likes to call them “sassy,” and so is she. After AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blasted over the PA, she rose out of the floor in black and went high above the crowd, circled by lights and lasers, doing “Runaway Renegade.” Pounding through “Last Name” and “Undo It,” with the bombast level registering at about an 8, she and the band sounded more like the Aussie metal icons than her beloved George Strait and Randy Travis.
“We just got in last night from playing at the Grammys, which was a whole lot of fun,” she said, adding in sly whisper, “but I think this is going to be more fun.”
As she’s not much of a talker, this was not a “Storyteller” tour in the sense of narrating the show with stories. She let the music and character-driven lyrics do most of the talking, at max volume.
If there were any question, and with her there isn’t, we know she was really singing because when she changed into a skin-toned dress and returned with “Cowboy Casanova,” her mic wasn’t working and, indeed, no vocals emerged until she motioned for a replacement.
The band toned it down at times, like on “Heartbeat,” which looked and sounded like a prom dance with a disco ball scattering the light. She showed off her roof-raising pipes beautifully on an impassioned “Two Black Cadillacs,” breakout hit “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and “Wasted,” climaxed with a fiddler on the riser.
“I’m a little out of breath,” she admitted after “Cadillacs.” Understandably.
It didn’t seem to affect her as she powered into two more cheatin’ songs: “Dirty Laundry” and “Choctaw County Affair,” which had the new mom showing off her new harmonica skills.
Introducing “a song everybody and their dog knows,” she shredded the scenery on Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Telling us that having a son “took a blessed life to a whole other level,” she sat atop a white baby grand for a more tender “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted.”
The most country moment of the night had opening acts Easton Corbin and The Swon Brothers rolling back out for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark,” which she quickly followed by the more alt-rock “Clock Don’t Stop.”
She closed the main set with a song that clearly hit home with her fans, “Before He Cheats,” and returned, guitar in hand, for “Smoke Break” and the soaring showstopper “Something in the Water.”
In the unlikely event that people came for an intimate night where they got to know Carrie Underwood a little better, it may have been mildly disappointing. (We got more personal insight on “Talking Dead.”) If they came for an arena-rock spectacle with absolutely perfect, dead-on vocals, this was your All-American Girl.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: scottmervis_pg
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