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Concert Reviews:
Carrie Underwood closes tour at Palace of Auburn Hills
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Opening for Carrie Underwood on Wednesday (Dec. 22) at the Palace, Sons of Sylvia's Ashley Clark promised some "shenanigans" before the night was over.

It was, after all, the final night of Underwood's Play On Tour, a trek that began in March and has rolled through North America since -- though undisclosed health issues forced a postponement of her original Nov. 29 date, giving the Palace crowd an opportunity to enjoy the rescheduled show as a tour-ender.

And there were hijinks, albeit nothing terribly provocative. During Sons of Sylvia's "50 Ways," members of Underwood's crew pelted female undergarments at the quintet while a cheeky message on the video screens poked fun at the song's lyrics by scrolling 50 methods of saying goodbye. Underwood's crew also popped up -- literally -- on a chaise lounge that rose from beneath the stage as she sang "Quitter," while Clark, who once played fiddle in Underwood's band, dressed as a sunglassed Santa Claus when Sons of Sylvia joined her for "What Can I Say."

Those moments of levity spiced a 21-song show that was visually flashy but was clearly suffered from end-of-tour fatigue. Underwood, who's been the subject of pregnancy rumors since her marriage to professional hockey player Mike Fisher, was audibly hoarse and missed a few high notes, though that didn't stop her from putting some emotive thrust behind songs such as "Wasted," "I Know You Won't" and "Jesus, Take the Wheel." But mostly the hour-and-50-minute concert was saved by theatrics that included a center-stage platform that rose to varying heights, a forest set with a swing that Underwood -- who sported eight outfits during the show -- sat on during "Just a Dream" and an extensive video production that allowed the former American Idol champ to perform a virtual duet with Randy Travis on their hit "I Told You So."

And during a cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and her own "This Time," Underwood, who professed to be scared of heights, sang from the bed of a blue pickup truck that cruised above the crowd -- with a For Sale By Owner sign in the passenger side window.

The setlist surveyed Underwood's three-album career to this point, loaded with country chart-toppers such as "All-American Girl," "Last Name," "Cowboy Casanova," "Temporary Home," "Before He Cheats" and "Undo It," while "Mama's Song" was accompanied by photos from Underwood's birth right up to her July wedding. It wasn't quite up to mid-tour standards, but there was a spirit, as well as a palpable satisfaction of a job well done, that at least gave the audience the good time it wound up anticipating for an additional three weeks.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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