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Concert Reviews:
Carrie Underwood blows 'em away at The Palace

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012

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AUBURN HILLS -- It might seem trite that say that Carrie Underwood's Blown Away Tour stop on Sunday night, Nov. 25, blew away the crowd at The Palace.

But it would be accurate.

Combining opulent staging and a couple of theatrical stunts with a genuinely powerhouse vocal performance, the country-pop straddling singer delivered a one-hour and 50-minute show that proved America really did get it right when it made her the winner of "American Idol's" fourth season -- and showed just how far beyond that momentary notoriety Underwood has come over the course of four albums and a dozen No. 1 country hits.

Divided into four segments, or "acts," the show began with a "Wizard of Oz"-aping video in which Underwood's house was blown not to the yellow brick road but to a stage filled with moving parts, from triangular HD video screens to the risers for her eight musicians. Each song had a different look, and Underwood -- who played her first full-scale concert ever in 2005 at the Palace -- and two of her band members spent one six-song segment on a herky-jerky airborne stage that took them to the back of the Palace as they played acoustic-flavored versions of "Get Out of This Town," "Thank God For Hometowns," "Crazy Dreams" and the Caribbean-flavored "One Way Ticket."

Video trickery also brought a virtual Brad Paisley to the Palace for the hit duet "Remind Me," though opening act Hunter Hayes was live for a high-octane "Leave Love Alone." The "storm" returned for the concert's encores, with Underwood, in her fifth outfit of the night, singing "Blown Away" amidst flying debris and, more strikingly, flying hair designed to replicate hurricane conditions.

It would have all been empty flash, of course, if Underwood didn't bring the goods with her singing. But she was in strong voice throughout, with just a hint of road-wear adding an appealing husk, as she belted out "Good Girl," "Undo It," "Last Name," "Before He Cheats" and "Cupid's Got a Shotgun" and crooned through the likes of "Temporary Home," "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and a show-stopping "I Know You Won't." A bombastic cover of Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" acknowledged that she could rock but was largely eclipsed by the strength and depth of Underwood's own tunes.

Hayes, meanwhile, affirmed his place as a country comer with his 40-minute opening set, inducing the kind of screams not heard at The Palace since -- well, Justin Bieber four nights prior. He may be just one gold album into his career, but the 21-year-old had Underwood's entire crowd out of its seats, too, as he galloped through hits such as "Wanted," "Storm Warning" and "Somebody's Heartbreak," giving every reason to expect we'll see him back at The Palace some day as a headliner in his own right.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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