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Underwood rocks it

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pa., February 26, 2023

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Wow it's true about kids growing up too fast. Carrie Underwood introduced the song "Wasted" as a deep cut by saying, "Now "I'm going to go way back."

It is hard to believe her debut album "Some Hearts" is about to turn 18 as Underwood stands on the precipice of turning 40. To say that she is aging well is an understatement.The powerful voice. The charisma. The beauty. She still has it all. The Denim and Rhinestones tour is a new evolution rock show that showed her stunning versatility as a vocalist while getting out of her comfort zone.

She channeled more Janis Joplin and Heart's Ann Wilson than Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline. And it all worked out swimmingly.

The band opened with a cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" that set the raucous tone early as Underwood donned '80s big hair and geared up for high horsepower versions of "Undo It," "Church Bells" and "Cowboy Casanova."

Rather than rely disproportionately on her award-winning back catalog, she showcased eight songs off of "Denim and Rhinestones" and judging by the collective sing a -long with 15,000 fans, they clearly were road tested with great success.

The show featured her grabbing the sticks to perform what could loosely be called a drum solo that was built more for fun rather than a display of skill on "Poor Everybody Else." She channeled her inner Pink later on with aerial acrobatics on "Ghost Story." The stage setup was much the same as the "Cry Pretty" tour with an in-the-round configuration in the shape of a pink and blue diamond. It made for accessible viewing of the myriad of wardrobe changes throughout the evening.

At one point, Underwood said, "In case you didn't know it, we play country. We are a country band>

While technically true the set featured only two slow tempo numbers, "Garden" and a virtual duet with Jason Aldean on "If I Didn't Love You" The majority of the set was delivered in face melting rock that Underwood was more than capable of delivering. There was some fiddle to be heard, but no Telecasters or acoustics.

For the dismount she began with a torching of "How Great Thou Art" and donned a black leather Guns 'N' Roses jacket for a cover of "Welcome to the Jungle" The chord progression on "Jesus Take the Wheel "is very similar to the outro on "Stairway To Heaven," and that is what the night was all about: arena rock, ear splitting volume and proving herself as a once in a generation vocalist. American Idol was a long time ago, and we're not in Kansas any more.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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