Carrie Underwood returned to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Friday night (Sept. 27), but this time she wasn’t sitting in a box seat donning a Predators jersey in support of her husband, Mike Fisher. Instead, Underwood was the one in the spotlight, dazzling her hometown crowd with an impressive stop on her 55-city Cry Pretty Tour 360 that proves why she’s deservingly nominated for Entertainer of the Year at this year’s upcoming CMA Awards.
Here are five things we still can’t stop talking about since Friday night:
- The Stage
Following in the tradition of 2016’s Storyteller Tour, Underwood once again opted for an in-the-round set; and her stage for the Cry Pretty Tour 360 is nothing short of spectacular. Cleverly designed in the shape of an eye, the stage boasts nearly a dozen different lifts, including a circular one in the center of the eye surrounded by two depressions that form a pit on either side, giving fans in the standing-room-only section an inside look. Underwood covered every square inch of the massive stage during her two-hour set. When she wasn’t being lifted into the air, she was strutting every catwalk available (in heels!)—the result of a newfound confidence and a carefully choreographed show. The flawless production also made the stage equally grand. From perfectly-timed pyro during her “Southbound” opener and smokestacks during “Blown Away” to the artful combination of smoke, lights and a staircase of lifts climbing Underwood toward heaven during “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” the strategic production only enhanced the 360-degree experience.
- The Glam
With five wardrobe changes, Underwood popped up from beneath the stage looking effortlessly chic, despite the fact she changed clothes in a mere minutes in between sets. She opened the show in a high-necked, long-sleeve, knee-length silver dress that sparkled from head to toe. For her second set, she opted for a rock ’n’ roll ensemble consisting of a black top, bedazzled shorts and thigh-high boots—the perfect accessories for a portion of the concert that included high-energy hits with Underwood even harnessing an electric guitar. Her third outfit consisted of a classic, long gold-beaded dress, followed by another all-black two-piece, this time adding mesh pants and some fringe. Finally, Underwood stunned in a hot pink strapless gown for the “Cry Pretty” finale.
- The Girl-Power
The Cry Pretty Tour 360 boasts an all-star, all-female lineup. Openers Runaway June and Maddie & Tae joined Underwood on-stage during her set for a nostalgic tribute to Country’s biggest female voices. The six women exchanged vocals on iconic songs by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Reba, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Shania Twain and more. The segment was as delightful for the women on stage as it was for the audience as they paid homage to the shoulders on which they stand, reminding fans every night that women do have a place in Country music—whether radio plays them or not.
- The Hits
It’s been 15 years since Underwood won American Idol, no doubt making it difficult to choose which songs to highlight from her repertoire. While the evening’s set list featured a bulk of the new Cry Pretty album, including a moving rendition of “The Bullet,” the Country superstar also sprinkled in early hits like “Flat On The Floor,” “Wasted” and “Just A Dream,” during which she interjected a snippet of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” “I want you to know I believe the words I’m singing,” Underwood said before launching into several faith-based selections from her journey, including stripped-down versions of “Temporary Home” and “See You Again,” as well as powerful performances of “Something in the Water” and her very first hit, “Jesus, Take The Wheel.” The GRAMMY®-winner brought plenty of mega hits, too, all of which had the crowd on their feet with anthems like “Before He Cheats,” “Cowboy Casanova,” “Church Bells,” “Last Name” and “The Champion.”
- The Finale
With nearly two hours down and not a sign of the tour’s title track, when Underwood descended beneath the stage prior to the encore, it was obvious what was likely coming next. While her band played the music bed for “Kingdom,” photos of Underwood’s family flashed on the video screens, revealing sweet snapshots of the wife and mom with Fisher and their two boys, Isaiah and Jacob, as Underwood changed into her final outfit for the evening for “Cry Pretty.” She began the emotional ballad underneath the stage with a camera capturing her putting the finishing touches on her glittery eye makeup before rising from the center lift, a halo of crystals hanging above her. She held the last note for nearly 20-seconds, capping an impassioned vocal performance of the vulnerable song. Although the powerful performance would have been enough to close the night, Underwood opted to end with an inspirational, confetti-filled encore of “Love Wins.” The song, like Underwood herself, isn’t a controversial statement, but a call for unity, championing the very thing that Underwood has spent a decade-and-a-half singing about and living out.
The Cry Pretty Tour 360 runs through Oct. 31.