Well my first day back at uni got off to a flying start when half way through I found out I was off to the iTunes festival to see country pop queen Carrie Underwood!
The night began with a new name to me, Cam was this sweet charming country girl with an angelic voice. I didn’t know what I was expecting exactly, but her songs were great and her and her band were tight. I wanted to leave right then and get a copy of her album! She played five songs, the highlights for me were ‘Runaway Train’, and her final song, ‘Burning House’, which quite a number of people in the audience knew and sang along to. If you’re like me and had never heard of Cam or her music before, change that, check her out as I assure you, you won’t regret it, she is one to watch!
Then it was the turn of The Shires whom I hold in very high esteem. There seemed to be an increased chemistry about them on this particular occasion though, perhaps because they were supporting one of the most successful females in country music, who knows? They opened with ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ and we all sang along! Then Ben explained they were going to play the first song they ever wrote together; ‘All Over Again’. They took it down a notch and Ben switched to piano for ‘State Lines’. Chrissie looked beautiful as always and their vocals were on point! I just wanna love you followed before they took the volume and energy levels back up for ‘Friday Night’ and ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ the feisty number in which Chrissie really shows off her vocal ability and control. They ended their set on ‘Tonight’, where they called for audience participation and we all obliged! It was a fantastic opening to the night and got everyone suitably excited for what was to come. There appeared to be a number of people in the audience that didn’t know the duo or their songs but I hope they went home and bought their album, ‘Brave’, from iTunes!
In the changeover the stage seemed to double in size whilst Carrie’s crew and band got themselves prepared. Then the lights dipped and her band began a long intro building tension as Carrie came striding onto the stage to begin ‘Blown Away’ and how ironic, because she did blow us all away! My favourite part of that song is “tthere’s not enough rain in Oklahoma” and her vocals were incredibly strong in the chorus. Before the show we debated what she would play and we really hoped she’d play this next song, ‘Two Black Cadillacs’. Underwood, all in black herself sang with such power and passion in her voice. I knew she had a good voice but I half expected it to be more flawed or at least less powerful live but I was speechless throughout!
‘Wasted’, and Undo It’ followed, not my favourite songs of hers but she delivered both well and the crowd really enjoyed singing along, particularly in ‘Undo It’. She then took it down a notch and showed off the softer more delicate side of her voice when she did a cover of Randy Travis’ ‘I Told You So’, in which tears pricked in my eyes. She had a great chemistry with her band throughout the night. ‘Good Girl’ followed and then, one of the highlights of the night for me was ‘Little Toy Guns’. This song was not one of my favourites before the start of the night but her performance was so powerful and the message of the song was conveyed well through her performance and this momentum carried through to the next song, one of my favourites of hers, ‘Cowboy Cassanova’. She delivered the tongue twister like verses perfectly and owned the stage.
She talked about the next song ‘Don’t Forget To Remember Me’ which struck a chord with me, having just a couple of days before moved back to London from where my family live in Oldham. With just herself and her guitarist it was a stripped back, moving performance. Then her band joined her and broke into ‘Flat On The Floor’ and Carrie strutted around the stage clearly enjoying herself as much as the crowd. Then came a twist on ‘See You Again’. I thought this was quite clever actually, I’ve seen artists do this a lot but never to such a great effect, she merged ‘See You Again’ with Wiz Khalifa’s ‘See You Again’ which I think confused some of the audience: however, I thought it was brilliant!
Another slow one added into the mix next with I Know You Won’t’ followed by her latest release ‘Smoke Break’. However the pinnacle of the night was just around the corner, one man near me when he heard the intro began jumping up and down before practically falling on the floor with excitement and everyone’s hands went up on the air for the chorus of ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’. It was a moment I will never forget and nor would I want to! She concluded her set with ‘All American Girl’ and ‘Last Name’, the latter of which was superb and the energy on stage and indeed amongst the crowd was quite something. And then she thanked us and walked off stage but we knew she had to come back, what about ‘Something In The Water’?
Sure enough a two song encore preceded which included ‘Something In The Water’, again one of my favourites and the empowering, feisty. ‘Before He Cheats’ really did conclude the night this time. I must say I have seen many gigs in my time, but no one with a voice as strong and as beautiful as Carrie’s, I really was blown away and it is amazing to hear that she will be back in the UK for Country to Country next March!
Just Zoe x