November hasn't been a bang-up month for the sung note at Consol Energy Center, with Madonna and Justin Bieber both showing up with enhancements you could spot a mile away.
No need for that with Carrie Underwood.
The all-American girl from Oklahoma isn't about dance routines and admitted to being "a terrible dancer." Instead, she showed off her pipes week after week on our TV screens when she won "American Idol" in 2005, and she's spent the past seven years demonstrating why she is the cream of that crop. She has five Grammys, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards, three (out of four) No. 1 albums and every time she turns up, she delivers.
- Good Girl
- Undo It
- I Told You So
- Two Black Cadillacs
- Last Name
- All-American Girl
- Temporary Home
- Jesus Take the Wheel
- Cowboy Casanova
- Get Out Of This Town
- Nobody Ever Told You
- Thank God For Hometowns/Crazy Dreams
- Do You Think About Me
- One Way Ticket
- Leave Love Alone (with Hunter Hayes)
- Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
- Remind me (with Brad Paisley on video)
- Cupid's Got a Shotgun
- Before He Cheats
- I Know You Won't
- Blown Away
Tonight at Consol was no exception as the 29-year-old platinum-haired beauty blew people away over a polished 23-song set on tour with her new album "Blown Away." She offered a little over half of the new album, opening the show, in a black-lined white dress, with the first single "Good Girl," another in a series of her songs lashing out at a no-good man.
On a tricked-out stage with movable screens and floors, Ms. Underwood walked the ever-narrowing line between pop and country, combining the slickness of the former with the homespun twang of her more native sound.
She had the swagger to drive home the anger of her recent single "Two Black Cadillacs" and rock hard through "Last Name" while going South for the front-porch sweetness of "Do You Think About Me" and the gospel feel of "One Way Ticket." Oh wait, she can also caress Randy Travis' "I Told You So" or torch the place with a towering power ballad like "I Know You Won't," saved for the encore.
Ms. Underwood already has the catalog to stock the middle of the set with such winners as the stately "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and rowdier "All-American Girl" and "Cowboy Casanova," making for a show with just a lull or two ("Temporary Home"). At the Petersen Center, she had a flying car. This time she and three of her bandmates were launched over the crowd on a rustic wood stage for a few songs, including the island jam "One Way Ticket" (with beach balls and confetti) and "Thank God for Hometowns," which came with her observations about Pittsburgh's all-apparent hometown pride.
- Light Me Up
- Love Makes Me
- Somebody's Heartbreak
- Everybody's Got Somebody But Me
- More Than I Should
- Just The Way You Are/Drive By
- Storm Warning
Late in the set, she was joined by opener Hunter Hayes for a duet on the mandolin-powered stomper "Leave Love Alone" and a virtual Brad Paisley for the twangy "Remind Me." In between, she flashed her headbanging side, in silver sequins, on a cover of Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" that rocked harder than you'd expect.
She and the versatile eight-piece band went to the roadhouse for the rollicking "Cupid's Got a Shotgun," with a breathless vocal and an impressive guitar-fiddle duel, and the nasty revenge anthem "Before He Cheats." At times it seemed like she had to belt it more than you wanted her to to compete with their volume.
Fortunately, her pipes stay true regardless, and while she won't be accused of being an artist who takes bold chances, she's the kind of star who could shine for decades.
Mr. Hayes, who looks a little like Justin Bieber and even has a boyish voice, leaned toward the pop side in the vein of a John Mayer or Jason Mraz before getting around to his hit country ballad "Wanted."
The 21-year-old, who played every instrument on his self-titled debut, revealed those chops on the chugging blues of "Storm Warning" and by playing a guitar lead while singing the verse of "Somebody's Heartbreak." More important, he had the charisma to keep the girls screaming.
Scott Mervis: email@example.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg First Published November 28, 2012 3:15 AM