Country superstar and “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood returned to where it all started Thursday night with a near sold out show in Saint Louis. This time is was at Chaifetz Arena in the Saint Louis University campus as she is beginning the U.S. leg of her “Storyteller Tour – Stories in the Round.”
While The title of the tour may invoke images of Underwood telling funny stories about her life in a quaint setting, the reality of it was much more in-your-face. Instead, Carrie only spoke a few times, none of which opened any windows into any backstories or interesting tidbits of her personal life.
Underwood chose to stick to the music and theatrics that audiences are used to, and therein we have a winner. Fact is,her tour is only called what it is due to the album she is touring in support of, her newest release Storyteller.
Underwood popped out (almost literally) from under the middle of the stage that turned into a riser, lifting her 20 feet into the air to perform “Renegade Runaway.” She came down to earth, so to speak, and performed “Last Name”/”Somethin’ Bad” outfitted in a hand crafted gold chain and bead embellished Egyptian style short dress that was one of over a half dozen dresses she changed into for the show.
Each dress was specifically created for the tour and designed for maximum visual effect. Each outfit was bedazzled in sequins or other shiny material, some more than others. A personal favorite was a red ankle-length sequined-shouldered multi-slit dress that was a perfect image and flowed freely as she got bluesy on harmonica for “Choctaw County Affair.”
Underwood worked her way to all parts of her in-the-round style stage that was so large it nearly covered the entire floor of the arena. Like the stage she covered nearly every part of her career in a fantastic, near flawless performance that clocked in at just under two hours. From her second ever single in “Jesus, Take the Wheel” to her most recent U.S. single “Heartbeat” (Though her band played her next single “Chaser” as an instrumental, it would have been nice to see that performed live with vocals) Underwood’s set covered her hits as well as newer songs from Storyteller.
But as the band played the instrumentals Underwood was under the stage changing outfits. She would then be lifted again in a different part of the stage for the next segment of the show. Knowing her outrageous sense humor it would not surprise me if she poked fun at herself during one of her last shows on this tour with a giant padded mallet coming down like a Whack-A-Mole game, but I doubt it.
Underwood did make the music and theatrics the focus of the show. Whether she was playing to elaborate imagery during stunning performances of “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs” to performing “Cowboy Casanova” from within a jukebox Underwood was spot on and delighted the large crowd every step of the way.
She in essence brought a large arena/stadium show and fit it in the 10,000 seat Chaifetz Arena. There was so many spotlights (approaching 150) that surrounded the stage, and the four video screens, creating a wall of lights that it felt like she was in the middle of an explosion of focused lights, a cacophony of visual to go along with her spectacular audio.
Her strong family values were also obvious in her touching tribute to her son Isaiah as she sat on a piano facing the video screens that towered over the middle of the stage for the entirety of “What I Never Know I Always Wanted” as images of Isaiah and her husband, Nashville Predators Mike Fisher were featured. If watching her truly fixated on the images of her and her family, or at least the images themselves, didn’t put a smile on your face then maybe you should kick start your heart.
Likewise, if the show itself didn’t impress and leave you satisfied then nothing will.
Easton Corbin and the Swon Brothers opened the show and joined her onstage for a cover of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark.”
Carrie Underwood setlist:
“Last Name/Somethin’ Bad”
“Jesus, Take the Wheel”
“Two Black Cadillacs”
“Choctaw County Affair”
“I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton cover)
“What I Never Knew I Always Wanted”
“Fishin’ In the Dark” (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cover with Easton Corbin and the Swon Brothers)
“Clock Don’t Stop”
“Little Toy Guns”
“Before He Cheats”
“Something in the Water”