For her first tour in three years, Carrie Underwood pulled out all the stops. “Storyteller Tour: Stories in the Round” was an extravagant display of fashion, visuals, glitz and glamour, plus the usual showcase of skyscraping vocal gymnastics.
The tour stopped at the Sprint Center on Sunday night, drawing a crowd of more than 14,000 that showered Underwood with affection and applause throughout the 110-minute show.
The stage ran from one end of the arena to the other. The main stage was in the middle of the floor. It was equipped with four satellite stages that allowed Underwood to connect with fans at all four quadrants of the arena.
Above the stage, a large oval video screen broadcast images to fans, including photos of Underwood, her husband, NHL hockey player Mike Fisher, and their young son, Isaiah.
The video console was also equipped with three large rings, each about one-third the size of the one above it, that also broadcast graphic images, including song lyrics.
Several times, Underwood disappeared beneath the stage and returned wearing a different dress or gown. A few times, plumes of flames emerged at six or eight points around the stage. During “Blown Away,” large sheaths of white fabric shimmied and danced like flames from those portals.
Underwood is touring on her latest full-length recording, “Storyteller,” her fifth album. She opened with one of its tracks, “Renegade Runaway,” but from there jumped around her discography to songs from earlier albums, including hits like “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “All-American Girl” and “Cowboy Casanova.” During “All-American Girl,” Underwood walked about the stage with a camera, projecting images of the crowd on the video screens as she sang.
The set list also included covers of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark,” which included a performance by opener Easton Corbin. Corbin wore a Royals cap and Mike Moustakas T-shirt, and when the song was done, a few thousand fans chanted “Mooooose.”
Underwood was backed by an eight-piece band, and she joined them on two songs, playing blues harp on “Choctaw County Affair” and acoustic guitar on “Smoke Break.”
All of her songs showcase Underwood’s voice, which is as agile as it is powerful. She put it to good use on her more dynamic material, much of which is more rock than country. “Undo It” sounds like an anthem Kelly Clarkson or Pink might record. “Church Bells,” a track from “Storyteller,” evoked the sounds of ’70s country generally and Bobbie Gentry specifically.
The crowd was enthusiastic throughout the show, but the hits generated the loudest responses. During “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” she urged them to sing along, and they did, taking over the song at the chorus.
She closed with a two-song encore, “Smoke Break,” which she performed atop a tier of the main stage, then “Something in the Water,” a single from her “Greatest Hits: Decade No. 1.”
Earlier in the show, Underwood, 33, marveled wistfully at how long she had been in music already — she won “American Idol” in 2005. Time may have slipped away quickly, but it has been kind to her. Eleven years later, she remains one of her genre’s most dynamic and entertaining performers.
Renegade Runaway; Last Name/Somethin’ Bad; Undo It; Good Girl; Church Bells; Mexico (instrumental); Cowboy Casanova; Heartbeat; Jesus, Take the Wheel; Wasted; Chaser (instrumental); Blown Away; Two Black Cadillacs; Choctaw County Affair; Relapse (instrumental); I Will Always Love You; What I Never Knew I Always Wanted; Fishin’ in the Dark; Clock Don’t Stop; All-American Girl; Little Toy Guns; Before He Cheats. Encore: Smoke Break; Something in the Water.