Over the Weekend: Carrie Underwood, Billy Currington, Sons of Sylvia at American Airlines Center

Carrie Underwood
American Airlines Center
October 9, 2010

Better than: Austin City Limits. OK, not really. But at least she can sing.

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All photos by Rachel Parker
Make the jump for more photos.
If you are looking for a concert where you could bring the whole family, including grandma, go to a Carrie Underwood Show.

Because it's more family friendly than Miley Cyrus

Nevertheless, her powerful voice was worthy of singing to the nearly sold-out crowd at American Airlines Center on Saturday night.

To start her set, Underwood came out to a standing ovation and immediately began singing "Cowboy Casanova" in a glittery tuxedo. She moved from one part of the stage to another with smoke coming out of the ground and a gigantic pedestal lifting her up about 30 feet.

It was evident early on: This wasn't a country show but, rather, a pop show with some country twang. 

And, unlike other pop artists, Underwood was able to hit all the highs and lows with relative ease. That's what separates Carrie Underwood from other pop stars: She doesn't need auto-tune. She's got a beautifully powerful mezzo-soprano voice that could be heard by the entire audience even without a microphone.

Pretty soon though, the overaged/underaged crowd sat down, and only got up a few more times for the rest of the night. In all honesty, the Palladium can be louder than the AAC was on this night.

After about three songs, Underwood mentioned how she lives about "four hours away from here" and that she has "a lot of memories here growing up" and how, in her personal life, she's made a lot of mistakes. A reference to Tony Romo maybe? Oh well, she's got NHL's Mike Fisher these days.

The highlight of the night had to have been "Temporary Home," a song Underwood also wrote. Sitting in front of a broken-home backdrop, she sat down on the edge of the stage a put a soul into her voice that could creep up your spine.

Later, about three-fourths of the way through her performance, she sang crowd favorite "Jesus Take The Wheel". For about four minutes, American Airlines looked liked it was trying to upstage Prestonwood Baptist Church. People stood up with their hands held high and a lot of people, including Carrie, looked into the sky.

Speaking of vehicles, Carrie soon jumped on a flying blue truck and covered a decent rendition "Country Road Take Me Home" by John Denver. The truck, raised about 60 feet high, proceeded to go around the entire arena. As a result of this prop, most of the fans witnessed Carrie from about 20 feet away.

A few songs later came the only non-family-friendly part of the night, "Last Name", which is a song about a one-night stand. Though even with this song, Underwood didn't strut her stuff or get too promiscuous.

She knows her audience too well.

Near the end opening act and friends Sons of Sylvia came and sang a duet with the headliners. Think '80s rock meets country duet.

For her encore, she then played "Before He Cheats," a girl power song that got all the women in the arena to sing in unison and all the guys to just ogle over Carrie's presence. Her final song was the most surprising moment of the night, as she finally acknowledged the elephant in the room with a cover of "All My Exes Are From Texas" by George Strait.

With this as her final song, along with her comments before, it sure kind of felt like the performer wanted us to know for sure that she dislikes Dallas.

Well forget her. We got Jessica and Ashlee Simp...never mind.

Earlier in the night, Sons of Sylvia played to crowd of cheering fans, although it seemed as if most fans were preoccupied in the concession areas with the Texas Rangers game. The brothers are a combo of an '80s rock guitars, country singing, a mandolin, and cousin Ryan Tedder's (OneRepublic) pop sensibility. Singer Ashley Clark has the vocal range to be in the midst of other big country stars, and the guitar playing was on par with other pop rock acts. It was very different from the rest of the show, but nevertheless fit in. Sons of Sylvia seems like a record label's conundrum: Good looks, a different-but-accessible sound, big-name backing, and catchy pop songs, but no big following yet.

Second opening act and country A-lister Billy Currington played his library of hits including "Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer." This may have been the only time of the night that the arena actually turned into a party.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: I've never seen an episode of American Idol, but I do enjoy Carrie Underwood's music from time to time.

By the Way: Underwood found a dollar on stage. Lucky her.

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