The production costs of Carrie Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones Tour must have gone through the proverbial roof. At Madison Square Garden, the visually arresting staging and carefully-timed lighting, video projection, fire, sparks, smoke, and other props occurred every few minutes. Underwood stood on hydraulic lifts that raised her high above her musicians or sank her below the stage where she quickly changed wardrobe. She played guitar and drums, with the drums also appearing and vanishing on a hydraulic platform. She rode high above her fans aboard elaborate trapeze-like aerial contraptions across the arena to perform at a smaller B stage, then flew back across the arena again to continue the show on the main stage. Most spectacular of all was how she maintained a remarkably strong vocal range through the nearly two-hour performance. Carrie Underwood’s concert was a class act and a spectacle.
Even before she or supporting act Jimmie Allen took the stage, the audience could see the magnitude of the production. Multiple large screens above the main stage would allow for video projections. Narrow walkways stretched from the main stage to the 100-level seats on the left and right of the main stage. More dramatically, the stage’s extra-long, diamond-shaped, step-down extension was in touching distance of the fans standing all the way to the middle of the arena floor.
The concert tour, which began in 2022, promotes Underwood’s ninth studio album, Denim & Rhinestones, released on June 10 of that year. The setlist includes eight songs from that album, at least one song from almost all of her previous albums, and a few surprises. Most of the songs were constructed to build to vocal crescendos, and Underwood’s soaring and powerful voice indeed dominated each song.
One cannot underplay the spectacles, however. White streamers shot from the ceiling into the fans in the stands as Underwood arose from underneath the stage for the first time. On “Undo It,” Underwood approached the audience on the arena floor, singing into a rhinestone-encrusted megaphone. On “If I Didn’t Love You,” a track originally recorded as a duet with Jason Aldean, Underwood sang her parts live under a massive video projection of Aldean singing his parts. Rows of flames lined the edges of the catwalk as she belted “Burn.” She heartily banged on a full drum kit that materialized at the end of “Poor Everybody Else.” Underwood and Allen sang “Denim & Rhinestones” as a duet with the two entertainers dancing with the fans at the edges of the lower stage.
Photos by Everynight Charley
Most impressively, Underwood floated over the audience from the front to the back of the arena on a pink floral swing while singing “Ghost Story.” Surrounding the smaller B stage, columns of light shined to the ceiling. She gently landed on the platform, strapped an electric guitar over her shoulder, and began to sing “Two Black Cadillacs.” She then played an acoustic guitar while singing “Garden.” She turned to her debut album and her gospel album singing “Jesus, Take the Wheel” with a snippet of “How Great Thou Art” before riding across the arena again, this time dangling from a ball-shaped web of metal rings while singing “Crazy Angels.”
Underwood’s encore started with her wearing a black leather biker jacket featuring a Guns N’ Roses logo emblazoned on the back. Her own band launched into a cover of GNR’s “Welcome to the Jungle.” If Underwood was proving that she is as much a rocker as a country pop singer, this rousing interpretation was convincingly raucous. Underwood may have country pop roots, but she breathes classic rock.
How does Carrie Underwood do this massive affair night after night? Her performance appeared to be both vocally and physically strenuous. Throughout the concert, she allowed herself little time for a breather. Anytime she left the stage, she rapidly returned wearing a new outfit to belt out another powerhouse song. Live, Underwood was unparalleled; she is both a remarkable music artist and a top-shelf entertainer.
- Good Girl (with “Pink Champagne” as intro)
- Church Bells
- Undo It
- Hate My Heart
- Cowboy Casanova (with extended outro including elements of “Velvet Heartbreak”)
- If I Didn’t Love You (Jason Aldean cover)
- She Don’t Know
- Blown Away
- Cry Pretty
- Ghost Story (with extended intro including elements of “Faster”)
- Two Black Cadillacs
- Jesus, Take the Wheel / How Great Thou Art (George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows cover)
- Crazy Angels (with extended outro including elements of “Wanted Woman”)
- Denim & Rhinestones (with Jimmie Allen)
- Flat on the Floor
- Poor Everybody Else
- Last Name
- Something in the Water (with elements of Amazing Grace)
- Welcome to the Jungle (Guns N’ Roses cover)
- Before He Cheats