Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2012, 1:28 am

Underwood leaves Q-C fans blown away

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By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
After gaining fame as an American Idol winner in 2005, country music sensation Carrie Underwood and her band blew the cobwebs out of the i-wireless Center Friday night, delighting a sold-out house with her high-energy Blown Away tour. Underwood will debut her new single on The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards Sunday evening.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
After gaining fame as an American Idol winner in 2005, country music sensation Carrie Underwood and her band delighted a sold-out i wireless Center Nov. 16, 2012, with her high-energy Blown Away tour.
I've watched her on TV and I've jammed to her in my car.

But neither of theose venues could hold a candle to seeing Carrie Underwood tear the i wireless Center arena apart Friday night and scattering the pieces with her "The Blown Away Tour."

The adorable Hunter Hayes warmed up the crowd for her, belting lyrics and jamming to "Light Me Up," with the atmosphere more like a rock show than that of a country concert. Hunter's energy could be rivaled only by his ridiculous talent, and the multifaceted musician showed what he was made of with acoustic and electric guitars andsmooth as silk vocals.

And man, does that kid have some pipes.

Unfortunately, his equally-energetic band mates often drowned out his voice. He had the chance to shine during his new single, "Somebody's Heartbreak," with an eye-widening, jaw-dropping guitar solo and "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me" which rang out goosebumps throughout the room.

He also gave Bruno Mars a run for his money with his cover of "Just the Way You Are," cleverly spliced with Train's "Drive By." After 40 minutes, he closed hisset with the crowd favorite, "Storm Warning."

Fitting, as a storm rolled in on a multidimensional electronic backdrop. A windmill furiously spun on the left side of the stage and through the front door of a house projected onto the backdrop, Carrie appeared.

And the room was ready.

In a sky-high lacy heels and a flowing black and white dress, Carrie commanded the sold-out crowd with "Good Girl." When not closing her eyes in concentration, she scanned the crowd, eager to connect with her fans.

"How's everybody doing tonight?" she shouted between songs, with the crowd roaring back in response.

Her nearly two-hour set included several wardrobe changes -- from her opening ensemble to a flowing teal blue dress, to cut-off jean shorts and a T-shirt, to a glittery black pants and jacket, to a flowing black dress with roses and silver thorns.

The crowd ate up her every return with screams, cheers and cellphone photos.

Carrietold the crowd that, eight years ago, she auditioned for "American Idol" on a whim. She said she didn't know what to expect, and doing what she's doing now "wasn't even fathomable."

Well, we've got news for you, Carrie. Neither was your performance Friday night!

From the heart-wrenching tunes such as "Temporary Home" and "Jesus Take the Wheel," to the sassier "Cowboy Casanova," "Undo It" and "Before He Cheats," she carried the crowd on the ride of their lives. Midway through her show, a section of the stage topped with oversized white lanterns carried her and two band mates across the crowd for what she called one of her favorite parts of the show.

"We can't see your faces," she told her crowd. "This way, I feel like I got to meet everybody."

Her nearly two-dozen song set also included "Get Out Of This Town," "Nobody Ever Told You," "Thank God for Hometowns," "All-American Girl," a spectacular "Leave Love Alone" duet with Hayes, a tear-jerking cover of Randy Travis' "I Told You So" and "Remind Me" in a breath-taking duet with a virtual Brad Paisley.

Paisley made a similar move in February during his "Virtual Reality Tour" at the i wireless. Backthen, it was Underwood joining him as a glittering, ghost-like figure.

On Friday night, her loyal fans sang along to nearly every word, spending the bulk of the night on their feet. Too soon, she thanked them and sank into the front of the stage.

The lights went down, but the audience didn't.

Their howls, cheers and stomps in the dark begged for an encore. Soon, Carrie returned, sitting on a bed as the electronic screens created a bedroom around her.

In a long black dress, she belted out "I Know You Won't" with vocals so outstanding I shook my head in disbelief. She then ignited the room with her finale -- the tour's namesake, "Blown Away."

As screens projected rain and a tornado, a fan blew her hair and billowed her dress. Confetti debris whirled around, and a smoke-like tornado sprouted up from center stage, growing and enveloping her.

"Thank you so much," she yelled to the crowd. "I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!"

How couldn't we, with her stellar show to be thankful for.