sat 19/10/2019

Carrie Underwood, SSE Hydro, Glasgow review - country cliches brought to life | reviews, news & interviews

Carrie Underwood, SSE Hydro, Glasgow review - country cliches brought to life

Carrie Underwood, SSE Hydro, Glasgow review - country cliches brought to life

Onetime American Idol brings her Cry Pretty tour to Glasgow

Carrie Underwood: great stories, flawless delivery

“We didn’t come all the way from Nashville, Tennessee with just one fiddle,” says Carrie Underwood, halfway through her Glasgow show. The onetime American Idol turned multiple Grammy award-winning country superstar isn’t one for doing things by halves: hers is a show with a big band, big boots, big earrings and her gigantic, arena-filling voice.

Despite hints to the contrary (Guns n Roses as her entrance music; feelgood Saturday night southern party anthem “Southbound” as the opening track) a breakneck opening streak hits all the country cliche greatest hits: good girls and casanova cowboys, jukebox visuals and duelling banjos. But Underwood’s incredible delivery - note-perfect but never anything less than passionate - fleshes out the runaway brides and murderous battered wives of her songs, turning them into characters to root for even as you’re singing along.

“Drinking Alone” provides a change of pace, its saxophone and piano opening quickly joined by the sultry stomp of the double bass and Underwood in full jazz bar seduction mode. “End Up With You”, also from last year’s Cry Pretty, shares a similar groove, although the intimacy of its lyrics and sole spotlight on Underwood turns the song into its own kind of seduction.

Country music, as Chrissie Rhodes of The Shires explained in her band’s opening set, is all about storytelling. For Rhodes, country music’s capacity for storytelling allows her to memorialise the father who died in her childhood every night on stage in the heart-rending “Daddy’s Little Girl”. For Underwood, it gives her a vehicle to tackle difficult topics. “The Bullet”, from Cry Pretty, may not be an Underwood original but its lyrics - which turn the passage of a bullet into an extended metaphor for the long-term damage caused by gun violence, to a visual backdrop of military graves and prayer vigils - “feel like my own”.

A medley of older songs gives Underwood the chance to celebrate two guitarists who have performed alongside her throughout her 14-year career: the mostly acoustic “Temporary Home” spotlights her Christian faith, while “See You Again” becomes a beautiful tribute to absent friends, mobile phone torches lighting the arena and bringing a lump to the throat as the music swelled around the chorus. Tragic ballad “Just A Dream” gets a rocky update, with a snippet of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” thrown in for good measure.

But its on the upbeat numbers that Underwood really shines: “Last Name”, “Undo It” and, of course, righteous anthem “Before He Cheats”, on which a whole arena are invited to live out their “Louisville slugger to both headlights”-style revenge fantasies. “The Champion” is another unexpected highlight, as local teenager Casey is introduced to fill in rapper Ludacris’ role - and pull off a couple of big notes of her own - while unapologetic power ballad “Cry Pretty” and “Love Wins” provide a perfect finale.

Lisa-Marie Ferla's website

Below: Carrie Underwood performs "Before He Cheats" at Glastonbury

Hers is a show with a big band, big boots, big earrings and her gigantic, arena-filling voice

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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