Excited families clad in cowboy boots waited patiently outside the Colonial Life Arena on Sept. 24 in anticipation of country star Carrie Underwood. Underwood and her band certainly left their mark on Columbia, even though it was just another stop on her Storyteller Tour.
Outside the arena, the atmosphere was full of high spirits and dedicated country music fans. A bag check, security point and ticket scan separated the concertgoers from the arena. Country stars The Swon Brothers and Easton Corbin were the featured opening acts for the show and will be for the rest of the tour.
As a singer, Underwood does not epitomize the stereotypical country music sound. Rather, she builds upon typical conventions with her youthful sound and belting capabilities.
In contrast to Underwood’s “new country” sound, Easton Corbin's songs displayed a more typical country voice. Corbin's songs featured low notes and repetitive chants intermixed with lyrics about girls and having a good time — a theme that is very common in country music today.
Along with a breakdancing, T-shirt-shooting DJ, the opening acts truly carried out their job of getting the crowd excited for the show.
The intricate lighting dimmed as Underwood rose from below the stage, certainly asserting her dominance within the 19,000-person seating capacity. Attendees jumped and cheered in utter excitement as Underwood took the stage. She began with a powerful performance of “Renegade Runaway,” the first track on her newest album, “Storyteller.” Underwood immediately began with her familiar belting, perfectly establishing her pre-eminence.
The first half of her concert paid homage to the tracks that catalyzed her rise to fame, performing older classics such as “Last Name,” “Undo It,” “Cowboy Casanova” and, possibly the quintessential Carrie Underwood track, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” Sentiments flowed and tears fell as Carrie revisited her emotional connection to this tune. At the same time, fans connected to both Underwood's classics and her newer hits.
First-year biochemistry and molecular biology student Kylie Fletcher, said she was “blown away” by the whole event. “There were fireworks," she said. "She’s amazing live. It was the best concert I’ve been to.”
A costume change later, Underwood rose from below once more to belt “Blown Away,” a popular hit from her fourth studio album. Hydraulics ensued and lights flashed as ribbons blew from the stage, analogous to both the lyrics of the song and Underwood’s performance blowing away the crowd’s expectations.
Returning to the theme of storytelling, she transitioned to an incredibly genuine and sentimental mood and paid homage to her biggest idol, Dolly Parton. Underwood told the audience how “Dolly defines the perfect country music career,” and then continued to sing Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” an emotionally charged ballad that Carrie began a cappella.
If one super ballad wasn’t enough, Underwood immediately followed with the new song “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted,” a touching melody about the story of her newborn baby, along with her entrance into motherhood. This song served as a tribute to all mothers and touched many members in the audience.
“Every song she has tells a story,” said first-year business student Victoria Brigadier in summing up the Storyteller Tour.
Underwood's Storyteller Tour performance tugged on the heartstrings of dedicated fans and delivered an unparalleled performance full of emotion and power. The performance as well as the stage setup offered a night of sentimental emotion and genuine expression. The tour will continue traveling across America until the end of November, when it will head off to New Zealand and Australia.