Carrie Underwood brought a country extravaganza to Ottawa on Monday night.
The powerhouse vocalist put on a larger-than-life show boasting multiple costume changes, an elaborate light show (with a few well-timed bursts of pyro), and a selection of chart-topping hits and choice tracks from her latest album Cry Pretty.
She also brought along two excellent up-and-coming female-fronted groups as support.
Stylish trio Runaway June opened the show with a short set that highlighted their timeless country sound, gorgeous vocal harmonies, and tight songs, ranging from vulnerable ballad “Blue Roses” to sarcastic boogie-woogie number “Fast As You.” They closing with girl power anthem “Buy My Own Drinks.”
(They also rocked some awesome outfits, bedecked with sparkles, black leather, and vintage fringes).
Next on the roster was charismatic country-pop duo Maddie & Tae, who excelled at country-rock kiss-offs like “Your Side of Town” and “New Dogs, Old Tricks.” They also played a genre-straddling cover of Charlie Puth’s “Attention,” before concluding with their bro-country-bashing hit “Girl in a Country Song.”
Taking the stage in a metallic mermaid-meets-Mad Max dress, Underwood opened with her summery single “Southbound,” followed by a trio of badass country-rock cautionary tales about sleazy bars and sleazier guys – “Cowboy Casanova,” “Good Girl,” and “Last Name.”
After taking things down a notch with Cry Pretty track “Backsliding,” she ratcheted up the drama with noir-ish murder ballads “Church Bells” and “Two Black Cadillacs.” The stage then became a whirlwind as she belted out “Blown Away,” a disturbing story song about alcoholism, abuse and a fateful tornado.
Donning a black fedora and taking a seat on a red velvet couch at the front of the stage, Underwood was joined by a saxophonist and stand-up bassist for a jazzy version of “Drinking Alone.”
Re-emerging in a gold sundress, she ratcheted up the country vibes with “Flat on the Floor” and “Wasted,” before taking a spiritual turn with a stripped-down version of Christian ballad “Temporary Home.”
“If you know a little bit about me, you know I believe the words to this song,” she explained, approaching a piano that had materialized onstage. “This planet earth is our temporary home – there is a place that is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.”
That led into a poignant singalong of “I Will See You Again,” which she dedicated to loved ones who have passed on, followed by “I Know You Won’t” and “Just a Dream.” The latter track, a heartbreaking portrait of a young military widow, morphed into a surprising cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”
She then played a rousing version of early single “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a concert staple that she said she never gets tired of playing. “I remember thinking, if I could sing that song for the rest of my life!” she exclaimed, reminiscing about hearing the track for the first time.
Torrents of blue-dyed smoke turned the stage into a gushing waterfall for gospel number “Something in the Water,” which led into Cry Pretty power ballad “Low.”
Next, she brought back the ladies from Maddie & Tae and Runaway June to join her for a medley saluting the trailblazing women of country. The girls traded verses on classic songs by Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and others, before concluding with a spirited rendition of Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”
She wrapped up the set with rocking 2010 single “Undo It” and Cry Pretty pump-up track “The Champion,” which featured a guest appearance by a local fan who supplied the Ludacris verses (“No one wants to see me rap,” Underwood cracked). From there, she closed with her signature track – sultry revenge song “Before He Cheats” – which had the whole crowd singing along.
A glittering pink chandelier descended over the stage as she returned for an encore of “Cry Pretty” and “Love Wins,” her glittering eyeshadow perfectly matching the rainbow confetti that blanketed the arena.
Line-up: Carrie Underwood / Maddie & Tae / Runaway June
Venue: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa ON
Date: Monday, June 10/2019