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Underwood keeps it world class

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pa., October 12, 2019

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

There are different levels of fame. There are quite a few artists who go by a mononym; no one asks "Sting or Bono "who?"

And then there is an artist whose surname is used as a verb. Being "Underwooded" is a slang phrase used to describe car vandalism. That's American Idol's best-selling artist fame.

It takes a lot of album and ticket sales to keep up that kind of notoriety. Carrie Underwood concerts will show you how she has earned and maintained her status as a world class entertainer. The production is big and slick with a budget that is enormous enough to showcase a voice that should be measured in horsepower rather than decibels, a fashion display spanning a 200-foot stage in the shape of an eye and a band packing four guitar players.

As the sell-out crowd was collectively jamming to some Guns N' Roses concert fill, the petite Okie stealthily rose from the floor draped in sequins and strutted around the stage to the up-tempo "Southbound." She then put her foot on the gas and belted out "Cowboy Casanova," "Good Girl" and "Last Name" in rapid fire succession

She made it clear that the Cry Pretty 360 show is a girl power tour by employing up and comers Maddie and Tae and Runaway June as openers. Later in the set they all joined forces to pay tribute to the greats from Loretta and Patsy to the Nineties icons from their formative years that "taught us how to sing"

Underwood offered up two delightful surprises during the 120 minutes She brought Molly on stage, young woman whose mother was battling multiple sclerosis to sing the Ludacris contribution on the inspirational "The Champion" The civilian killed the fast paced rap and Underwood seemed genuinely stunned and impressed, She quipped, "I think she's coming for my job. She just might get it!" Later, a she played capable lead conga on the sassy "End Up With You"

Underwood, of course, closed out the set with "Before He Cheats."

The powerful encore started with "Cry Pretty," as angry as it is beautiful. "Love Wins" is more the latter.

Those worried about the main act starting on time due to opening acts running long needn't have worried. Runaway June played barely a scant 30 minutes and it felt like a disservice. The trio has a Dixie Chicks vibe on their hit "Buy My Own Drinks." Maddie and Tae showcased "Girl In a Country Song" en route to a well-deserved 40-minute set.