Last Night: Carrie Underwood At Toyota Center

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Photos by Marco Torres
Carrie Underwood
Toyota Center
October 6, 2010

Carrie Underwood is perfect for Vegas. That's not a knock - mostly.

Underwood is wholesome, engaging and dynamic. She's no Tina Turner, but she can strut onstage. Her voice is excellent - good range and control, on key and expressive. Maybe she oversells ballads like "I Know You Won't," but hey, Streisand does the same thing. And before a singer can oversell a song, they have to sell it first.

No problem there. But Underwood has a real edge to her, a fiery rock singer a la Chrissie Hynde or Joan Jett itching to tear up her All-American Girl image, or at least smudge it up a little. Wednesday night at Toyota Center, Aftermath saw just enough of that side of Underwood to make us want to see more.

But that's all we got - just a little. Maybe that's all she's comfortable with right now.

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That's what we got at first. There was no loss of continuity between the musclebound hard rock of Underwood's intro music - Aftermath didn't recognize the song, but we're guessing Hinder, if for no other reason than they share Underwood's home state of Oklahoma - and opener "Cowboy Casanova." She didn't sing it like this, but Underwood's band played the single from her latest album Play On as a gritty, scorned PJ Harvey alt-blues diatribe.

A few songs later, "Some Hearts" coupled Tom Petty's stiff-upper-lip rock with Trisha Yearwood's feminine twang, and made Aftermath think how cool it would be if Underwood covered "Even the Losers." The subject matter isn't that different, let alone the lyrics: "Some hearts get lucky sometimes" versus "Even the losers get lucky sometimes." You be the judge.

But that was about it until the end of the set, when Underwood and the band brought back the big guns for the get-to-steppin' arena-pop of "Undo It" and electric-banjo-juiced "Last Name." In between were several Faith Hill-style weepers, the best of which was the admirably stoic "Someday When I Stop Loving You" (hint: it's not going to happen), and John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which she sang from the bed of a blue custom pickup truck hoisted aloft over the agape Toyota Center crowd. Sweet truck, too. But who on earth would insure such a thing?

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