The Daily Gamecock

Carrie Underwood rocks Colonial Life Arena

	<p>Carrie Underwood’s country-rock style has garnered her a number of die-hard fans, many of whom came out in full force for the singer’s live concert Wednesday night.</p>
Carrie Underwood’s country-rock style has garnered her a number of die-hard fans, many of whom came out in full force for the singer’s live concert Wednesday night.

Country star brings sass, style to audience of ‘Blown Away’ tour

It started with hot pink, spiked and studded knuckle gloves and black mesh. She was dripping chains and a deep purple, front-cropped gown dragged on the ground behind towering stilettos.

A few songs later, there was a banjo and frayed jean shorts — a few sunflowers twirling in blue skies and white clouds on the stage screens.

Not many can pull of that transition. Carrie Underwood is an exception.
The former “American Idol” winner has grown from “Some Hearts” to one bad, in truly the best way, vocalist, and Wednesday night, she shared a little of her Oklahoma-born sass with the Colonial Life Arena.

The Columbia show was a leg of Underwood’s “Blown Away Tour,” which started in September and has melded together all of the songstress’s talents in one mismatched but nonetheless impressive show.

Hunter Hayes, a 21-year-old heartthrob, has already melted teen hearts from country to pop with his fresh-faced serenades of bachelor love ballads. The same was true Wednesday night.

He flashed a few smiles in a black V-neck and a worn pair of sneakers, bopping back and forth on a stage shaped like the three top points of a star. The stage front was piped with red rope lights and the back screen was etched with Hayes’s logo like a chalkboard.
Shrieks erupted — ear-piercing, arena-rattling shrieks. He garnered more shrieks than any one of Taylor Swift’s songs.

Hayes had played the first few notes of “Wanted” on the piano. He stood up in front of the keys, mouth pressed to a mic, and turned the chorus to the crowd. The arena lights shined over thousands of smitten fans, singing out every word.

He saved his top three for last: “Wanted,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak” and “Storm Warning.” During the second, he channeled a little John Mayer and took a rock star jump off the drum stage and straight into a long-winded guitar solo.

As he closed out the last chord of “Storm Warning,” the lights went up and Hayes stayed on stage into Underwood’s set announcement, throwing guitar picks and catching a few waves from the floor seats.

“I’d really like to thank you guys again,” Hayes said. “Well, just thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

He was the sweet, in his music and in himself, and harked back to the original, country-pop “Idol” days of the night’s headliner.

Underwood was stellar. She’s completely broken away from any kind of singing-show stereotypes and, as far as vocal talent, she’s one of the best live vocalists who’s been through the city in the past few years.

The show hinged on wild graphics and strobe lights, all projected on multiple, perpendicular video screens.

Wind started to whirl from a sheet hanging over the stage, across the audience. A tornado circled on the video screens, and Underwood stepped out of a pop-up (an actual, on-stage pop-up) yellow brick house for “Good Girl.”

In a crowd that was largely standing for the opening number, a man who had been dragged to the show with his wife in section 114 was still seated, soaking it all in.

After the dramatic video entrance, complete with a spinning windmill and rushing cloud, he offered a side comment to the greatness.

“OK, that was pretty cool,” he said.

She sang a lot of favorites from the start: “Undo It,” “Wasted,” “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Last Name.”

In the middle of the radio-fit rundown, Underwood sang “I Told You So,” a Randy Travis cover she said she learned as a little girl. It was beautiful.

Underwood said before she took the stage, she was in her tour bus watching the latest episode of “American Idol,” the show she won in its fourth season. She has it recorded, she assured, and added that she never thought she would make it through the first round of auditions, way back before “Some Hearts.”

It was a set-up for two of the most meaningful songs for Underwood, she said: “Temporary Home” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”

It was after the sentimental duo that Underwood changed into her cut-off jean shorts and climbed into a flying stage, boxed in by faux-stick rails. She sang “All-American Girl” — when a trailer diner called “Carrie’s Veggie Burgers” flashed on the screen — and threw leis to the audience as jumbo beach balls skipped through the seats and confetti fell from the rafters during “One Way Ticket.”

The show balanced dramatics and vocal performance very well. Underwood’s voice was really, very strong. She only had one back-up vocalist, Andrea Thomas, helping her through an hour-and-20-minute set — a departure from a typical trio.

After she channeled just one more lash of sass in “Before He Cheats,” she circled back to the tornado scene for the tour’s title track “Blown Away.”