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Carrie Underwood – DeSoto Civic Center, DeSoto County, MS

by Julie Hawkins

Sunday, October 26, 2008 – DeSoto Civic Center, DeSoto County, MS

Carrie Underwood delivered an astounding vocal performance once again on Sunday night. However, even with a nearly pitch-perfect show, the audience of over seven thousand was left disenchanted, as the artist, striving to depict her three-year rise to stardom, from her upbringing in Checotah, Oklahoma, to her induction into the Grand Ole Opry, to her appearance on Oprah Winfrey, came off more as an exaggeration.

Although the music and vocalist were enthralling, the staging left much to be desired. Typically, Underwood’s image was portrayed on a Jumbo Tron, reminiscent of her “American Idol” days. The display, presenting the beginning of her career up through her best selling albums, seemed somewhat tacky, albeit time-killing, while she engaged in costume changes.

Nevertheless, Underwood delivered to her fans, performing favorites and new songs from her most recent album, Carousel Ride. Her lively eight-piece band behind her, she displayed ninety minutes of powerful vocals, including chart-toppers like “Jesus Take the Wheel” and “Some Hearts” to thumping honky-tonkers to covers.

Regardless of the obvious awareness that Underwood has performed her songs to flawlessness, the staging and between-song banter was lacking: proof that her frenetic schedule has been all too time-consuming for her to improve her stagecraft. This was evident when she asked a nine-year-old to join her onstage, and then asked the little girl too many questions while they sang “All-American Girl.”

It was also apparent by the way Underwood moved around the glitzy, tremendous stage. She pretended to strum a guitar through two songs, and strutted down an awkward, out-of-place catwalk that threw her into the air as a climax to her ballad, “I Know You Won’t,” coming off as a near accident more than an effect.

At times, she appeared lost, popping up behind her band from time to time at bizarre intervals. And the strangest occurrence came at the end of the show, when after singing “Get Out Of This Town,” the band and singer abruptly left the stage, leaving the audience pondering whether the show was over or not. Left bewildered, the crowd stood clueless, wondering if they should applaud, chant for an encore, or just go home.

After several uneasy moments, the band returned, whereby Underwood commenced into “Before He Cheats,” her newest chart-topping single. A confetti machine provided atmosphere, and the discomfited, previous occurrence was erased.

Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats

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