Two years after she last performed at Intrust Bank Arena, country star and onetime “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood was back in Wichita on Saturday night for a stop on her “Blown Away” tour.
The 23-song concert, which attracted an estimated crowd of 10,000, was a collection of songs from Underwood’s four studio albums that highlighted her biggest radio hits, including “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” “Undo It” and “Last Name.”
It included a flying, rotating stage, five outfit changes and a finale with a special-effects tornado appropriate not only to Underwood’s hometown of Checotah, Okla., but also to Wichita.
Underwood took the stage wearing an iridescent, purple strapless gown that was short-short in the front and floor-length in the back. Her blonde locks flying, she opened with “Good Girl” from her newest album, “Blown Away,” then followed with nine more songs and one wardrobe change.
Though her voice sounded full and big, Underwood’s first set was relatively low-energy and vanilla, as evidenced by the many fans who remained seated.
It picked up after “Cowboy Casanova,” when Underwood reappeared on stage in denim cutoffs and a sparkly Hank Williams Jr. T-shirt. She and three of her band members walked to the diamond-shaped end of the stage, which had been fitted during the wardrobe change with what looked like a wooden fence surrounding it.
As Underwood launched into “Get Out of This Town” from her second album, “Carnival Ride,” the stage lifted into the air and traveled over the audience, making it all the way to the back of the arena. She stayed there singing through six songs, when the airborne stage landed back where it started.
“I just feel like I got to meet everyone in the building and that’s pretty awesome,” she said. “I can see all your gorgeous faces right now.”
Underwood then came out on stage in another outfit – this one a black tuxedo coat with skin-tight silver pants, for a rocking cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” and the crowd loved the version of “Leave Love Alone” that she performed with very popular opening act Hunter Hayes, who returned briefly for the duet.
Underwood also performed “Remind Me,” a popular duet she recorded with singer Brad Paisley for his most recent album. When he was at Intrust Bank Arena in January, he famously performed the song with a lifelike hologram of Underwood that fooled much of the crowd into thinking she was in the arena.
She also performed the duet with a video version of Paisley, but it was much less technologically sophisticated, and no one was confused.
The show memorably closed with “Blown Away’s” title track, which included the dramatic on-stage tornado, aided by a wind machine and lots of confetti.