Carrie “Played On!”
A concert review by "Cowboy" Troy
Wow! What a night! For those of you fortunate enough to take in Carrie Underwood's "Play On" tour stop at the Casper Events Center Wednesday night; I'm not telling you anything that you didn't already know.
Now, for those of you who didn't get the chance to witness this "event;" you might just end up wanting to kick yourself in the "badonkadonk," though we hope it doesn't actually come to that.
First of all, let me explain that I've been in this game for a while now and have seen some great concerts. I've also seen my share of not-so-great concerts. That said; I was not only pleasantly surprised at how expertly executed and choreographed this show was, but also at the fact that after nearly three and a half hours of music, two brief intermissions, and crowds that defied the imagination...I didn't want the night to end!
Opening act Sons of Sylvia, which consists of the three Clark brothers, and whom Carrie has known for years, kicked off the show delighting the crowd with high-energy delivery that ranged from up-beat country to banged-out bluegrass. They would later join Carrie for the duet "What Can I Say," which is featured on her latest album.
Next up...Mr. Billy Currington, after what seemed like only a 5 minute interval between the bands.
Billy Currington would quickly get the audience familiarized with what they could later expect after the lesser-known band had performed, launching into all of his hits in quick succession in what would be one of the night's shorter sets. It didn't matter. Billy, with an infectious smile that showed the Event Center audience that he was there to party, had everyone singing along from the beginning as he easily maneuvered between newer songs like "Let Me Down Easy" and "People Are Crazy" to standards like "Good Directions," which would conclude his portion of the night.
Next...the biggie! I don't use a cliché like "saving the best for last," lightly, but this was Carrie Underwood's show and she made sure the capacity crowd at the Casper Events Center knew it.
Carrie Underwood held nothing back, unlike some performers who might take liberty and save some effort for the bigger markets scheduled on her tour. Delightful and charming, she informed the audience that she wasn't feeling very well and apologized for any weak moments. This reporter saw none, which again, is a nod to her considerable talent.
The staging was magnificent! Carrie entered from an elevated, lighted platform capable of extending far above the stage to far below it, in separate sections that also allowed it to serve as stairs or just the perfect vantage point. Through the course of the night, Carrie would perform all of her hits whilst strutting across the huge stage, suspended on a high-flying swing, or standing in what appeared to be the flatbed of an ordinary pick-up that would fly through the air, taking her in a semi-circle from one end of the arena to the other and giving all an ample opportunity to take her in.
She switched gears constantly. One moment she was engaging her band members with the energetic "Undo It," and then she was settling down to a sparkling baby grand piano to get lost in the nostalgic "Mama's Song" as images from her life, past and present, were displayed on the backdrop. Carrie also invoked images from the Grand Ole Opry. She performed her hit duet "I Told You So" behind a mike with the "WSM" logo to a virtual Randy Travis.
Carrie also provided for several costume changes that helped to set the mood for the next song coming up. At one point she even seemed to be wearing a dress that contained the same lighting arrays and fx as her stage design; the likes of which I'd never seen before. If she hadn't sung a single note, the production itself was enough to keep one delightfully entertained.
With that, I will save just a little space to say that the songs were wonderful. She included them all and sang them brilliantly with a confidence that definitely proved she was not only worthy of being an "American Idol," but that she had indeed surpassed that mark and is very intent on taking her performance to the next level. It was a fantastic show and I felt very fortunate to be able to be part of the excitement.
Her philanthropic side came though as well as several hundred tickets were presented to local non-profit groups and a portion of every ticket sale went to "Save The Children."
It was indeed a magical night for all.
So, if and when she makes it back to our little town...get those tickets and don't say that "Cowboy" didn't warn you.