C2C 2016: Carrie Underwood

P1010025Carrie Underwood headlined the inaugural C2C festival back in 2013, following the release of her ‘Blown Away’ album. Since then, Carrie has stepped out of the spotlight somewhat, giving birth to son Isaiah in the process.

But she returned in October last year with her ‘Storyteller’ album, a collection of tracks exposing Carrie’s more personal, emotional song writing style, whilst still maintaining the thumping backbeats and killer vocals that fit seamlessly into her live shows.

Carrie’s UK fan base has grown considerably, particularly over the last year, thanks to her appearance at the Apple Music Festival, her performance on The X Factor, and various features in magazines and digital media. This was reflected by the sales for C2C on the Saturday, the only day that completely sold out. 20,000 fans flooded into the O2 Arena with excitement to see what Carrie’s brand new live show had to offer.

She kicked it off with ‘Renegade Runaway’, a track from the new album which is absolutely tailor-made for a live performance. The aforementioned thumping backbeats take centre stage for this one in particular, and it’s like a magnet for the audience’s attention – you’re hooked right from the first note.

The incredibly energetic start continued with ‘Last Name’ fused with ‘Somethin’ Bad’, followed by ‘Undo It’ and ‘Good Girl’, all performed with the utterly flawless vocals we have come to expect from Carrie. It really is incredible how she keeps this up night after night without straining her vocal chords. You just have to be there to truly appreciate the quality of her performance; she was born to do this, and not many can compete.

A particular highlight of the show was ‘Heartbeat’, when she brought Sam Hunt back onto the stage following his stunning show earlier in the day. They recently performed this duet at the Grammys, and it really is something to behold. Their voices fit like a glove. When Carrie slows it down a touch for the mid-tempo and slow songs, that is when we see Carrie at her very best.

On that note, our only complaint would be the omission of her stand-out ballads, such as ‘Temporary Home’ and ‘Mama’s Song’, which despite their commercial success, very rarely find their way into Carrie’s set lists. There is a little too much reliance on the powerful, roof-raising songs, when there are so many gorgeous ballads on her albums that never make the cut.

But when you go and see Carrie Underwood, that is what you’re in for, and it is entertaining nonetheless. It was refreshing to hear Carrie perform so much of the new album, a welcome change for those who have seen Carrie on multiple occasions previously. ‘Church Bells’, ‘Chaser’, ‘Dirty Laundry’, ‘Choctaw County Affair’ and ‘Clock Don’t Stop’ were all included, alongside the newest singles ‘Smoke Break’ and ‘Heartbeat’.

A stand-out moment in the show was Carrie’s tribute to Dolly Parton, an artist who Carrie said “we all want to be like”. Carrie performed a rendition of the classic Whitney Houston hit ‘I Will Always Love You’, written by Dolly, and she blew the roof off the O2. It takes a brave woman to take on such a vocally demanding song without any instrumental backing, but if anybody can do it justice, Carrie can. A real showcase of her immense talent.

She finished with a 2-song encore of ‘Smoke Break’ and ‘Something In The Water’, another chance for Carrie to let loose with her vocals and stun us with her incredible range, and another opportunity for her adoring fans to sing along.

All in all, a very impressive set from Carrie as per usual. She just seems to get stronger and stronger with age, and it was a joy to witness such a force in the music industry doing her thing so fearlessly. She assured us that she will be back in the UK very soon; don’t miss her.

Setlist:

Renegade Runaway
Last Name/Somethin’ Bad
Undo It
Good Girl
Church Bells
Cowboy Casanova
Heartbeat (With Sam Hunt)
Jesus, Take The Wheel
Wasted
Chaser
Blown Away
Two Black Cadillacs
Dirty Laundry
Choctaw County Affair
I Will Always Love You
Clock Don’t Stop
Flat On The Floor
Little Toy Guns
Before He Cheats
Smoke Break
Something In The Water