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Underwood shines bright in performance at Consol Energy Center

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Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:15 a.m.


Carrie Underwood's “Blown Away” tour, which came to Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night, did indeed blow the audience away.

As Jennifer Lopez — a judge for “American Idol,” the show on which Underwood got her start in 2005 — said to a contestant last season, "one hallmark of great performers is that you just can't take your eyes off of them, because you don't know what they are going to do next."

So it is with Underwood, who surprised and amazed the audience throughout the show with her powerful stage charisma, beautiful voice, special effects, changes in outfits and scenery and that intangible “it” quality that an all-American star has.

Underwood's concert brimmed with colorful background graphics that matched the 23 songs in her set. There were stage props, like a giant windmill, backed by Wizard of Oz-like tornado scenes, showers of confetti, a breakoff stage that floated above the audience and a fashion show. One of Underwood's shticks is her frequent outfit changes, and during this show, her five changes ranged in style from and elegant, flowing dress to a tank top and cutoff jeans shorts and a flirty, lace-covered bodice.

The crossover star, who draws a fan base from country and pop music, gave fans what they wanted, singing most of the big hits she has scored in the past seven years, along with more than a half-dozen songs from her newest album, “Blown Away.”

One of her talents is an ability to switch from the soulful passion she shows in “Temporary Home,” “I Told You So” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel” — three songs that moved some in the audience to tears — to the rowdy, hard-rocking Aerosmith song “Sweet Emotion.”

Underwood channels rockers like Axl Rose and Steven Tyler with rip-roaring, head-banging fun. Although she engaged with the audience and was impressed with the Pittsburgh pride, she becomes so consumed and absorbed in songs that it's like she's escaping to her own world.

There's nothing hollow or stilted about Underwood. She is really into singing. She feels it, and does it very well.

The scenic highlight of the evening came when Underwood and some band members flew up into the air on a piece of the stage. Suspended from giant, hot air balloon-like balls that looked like Chinese paper lanterns, Underwood said her platform provided the best view in the house.

At the end of the night, as Underwood sang “Blown Away," she was backed by swirling tornado images, and a faux funnel cloud burst from the stage behind her, providing a windy shower of confetti.

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