Country star Carrie Underwood brought her big voice and her even bigger stage production to Intrust Bank Arena on Tuesday night, breaking a longer-than-usual arena concert drought with a show that drew 10,000 fans.
Underwood's show, the first big act at the arena since Rush performed on Aug. 20, was full of costume changes, hydraulics and descending set pieces a tree branch, a swing, a flying pickup truck.
Underwood, one of the most successful "American Idol" graduates (she won the fourth season), performed many of the hits that made her a star and earned her a long list of awards, including five Grammys and back-to-back Entertainer of the Year awards from the Academy of Country Music.
She emerged onto the stage from below, perched on a red settee and clutching a studded microphone stand. Her first song, "Cowboy Casanova" from her third album, "Play On," was performed in a sparkly Darth Vader-esque coat, and the hydraulic center stage lifted her high into the air, above her eight-piece backup band.
Underwood strummed the electric guitar during a version of her hit "Some Hearts," and soon after emerged in a flowing white skirt and denim shirt to perform "Just a Dream" while on a swing suspended from the ceiling that carried her dramatically up and down and back and forth.
Mid-concert, Underwood appeared from stage left inside the infamous flying blue pickup truck, suspended above the audience by cables. As she flew over the crowd, Underwood performed a cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The truck descended over the middle of the arena while Underwood, dressed in tight black leggings and a blue sequined top, sang "This Time," and it eventually took a left turn and delivered her back to the stage.
Underwood charmed the audience with her somewhat scatter-brained chitchat from the stage. After rambling a bit about her early touring days, when she'd open for stars such as Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, she stopped suddenly.
"You'll learn through the course of the evening that I go off into left field sometimes," she said. "You might look to the person next to you and say, 'What was she just talking about?' Sometimes I don't even know."
Other hits Underwood performed during her 21-song set: "Temporary Home," "All-American Girl," "Before He Cheats" and a crowd-pleasing version of her early hit "Jesus, Take the Wheel," which she punctuated with a few verses of "How Great Thou Art."
Curly-headed country crooner Billy Currington was among two opening acts and performed hits such as "People are Crazy," "Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer" and "I Got a Feelin'." The other opening act, up-and-coming band Sons of Sylvia, reappeared on stage late in the show to back Underwood up on her song "What Can I Say."