By BIANCA LOPEZ
Carrie Underwood took the stage on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena as part of her Storyteller Tour, the country singer’s first tour in three years. The concert features grandiose sparklers, a giant disco ball, impressive costume changes, and even a massive jukebox that Underwood stands atop whilst dressed in an Elvis Presley-inspired getup.
The Storyteller Tour began in Jacksonville, Florida in January and will end in Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov. 28. Tampa was Underwood’s sixth-to-last stop on the tour, after traveling throughout the US, Canada and major European cities like Stockholm, London and Dublin. For every ticket sold in the US, $1 is donated to Underwood’s CATS (Checotah Animal, Town, and School) Foundation to support the singer’s Oklahoma hometown.
The show opens with the Swon Brothers, a country duo whose start on NBC’s The Voice pay a small tribute to Underwood’s not-so-humble beginnings on American Idol. Easton Corbin also opened for Underwood in the North American leg of the tour, playing hits like “All over the road” and “A little more country than that.”
The rotating concert stage replaced the Tampa Bay Lightning’s ice and multiple runways allowed for interaction with all sides of the audience.
Moments before Underwood appeared, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” filled the arena. The star of the show ascended through the stage floor, haloed by a three-tier lighting structure, to the first notes of her song “Renegade Runaway.” Underwood debuted in a black mesh and gold foil cap-sleeved top with a fringed black skirt, an outfit that forebode of the stark contrast between Underwood’s angelic persona and her music on this tour.
While Underwood naturally shared hits like “Jesus take the wheel” and “All-American Girl,” softer songs that match the image of the singer as a sweet Christian girl from a small town, a surprising number of her songs played to an angstier tune. Like the musical version of a Lifetime movie marathon, song after song was sung telling the story about a cheater or abuser who got what was coming to him. Underwood’s nasty woman anthems include “Before He Cheats,” which details the destruction of a cheating boyfriend’s car with a baseball bat, “Dirty Laundry” where a woman discovers proof of her lover’s affair, “Blown away” when a girl leaves her alcoholic and abusive father outside in a tornado to die, “Church Bells,” a song about a poor girl who marries a rich older man who ends up beating her until she eventually poisons him, and “Two black cadillacs,” where a man’s wife and mistress attend his funeral after plotting his death.
Underwood loosened her female-empowerment-through-male-torture grip to share a story about her toddler son who was snuggling up to her before the concert as she curled her hair (yep, Carrie Underwood reportedly does her own hair). This story lead Underwood into singing “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” as a slideshow of pictures of her and professional hockey player husband, Mike Fisher, played on the screen leading up to photos of her Gerber-baby-looking son, Isaiah.
The concert also featured tributes to classic country through Underwood’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” and, joined by Easton Corbin (sporting a state of Florida tee) and the Swon Brothers, Alabama’s “Mountain music.”
Concertgoers sang along to every word and swayed with their phone flashlights lighting up the stands, staying behind to hear Underwood encore “Smoke Break” and “Something in the Water.” When the lights came on and the music stopped, Underwood’s magic still hung in the air. No one was ready to leave.
Bianca Lopez can be reached at Bianca.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more of her articles here.