Fresno Beehive

Carrie Underwood brings powerful voice, stunning production to Fresno

Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty tour has so much going on, you can’t take your eyes off the stage.

Except, the stage runs the full length of the arena floor, with the crowd literally on all sides (and also right in the middle) so there’s no way to see it all, even with multiple projection screens that ring the stage (and make a visually stunning opening number).

You’re going to miss some stuff.

Like Underwood disappearing at the end of the song “Backsliding” and leaving the band onstage to finish without her. When she returns, it’s on the other side of the stage and with a new outfit – a gold sequined tuxedo and bedazzled Fender guitar.

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Carrie Underwood performs at Save Mart Center on her Cry Pretty Tour Sunday night, May 12, 2019 in Fresno ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

The production

In all, there were four costume changes during Underwood’s stop at the Save Mart Center Sunday night. And an array of stage magic to boot.

A red-velvet chaise appeared from below the stage before “Drinking Alone.” Suddenly, the stage is a jazz club and there’s an upright bass and one of the guitarists is playing the saxophone.

At one point, a piano appeared for Underwood to play. It was covered in black light hearts and billowing fog.

Hydraulics lifted Underwood and her band above the stage and in clear view of the upper deck seats, though out of view perhaps for some of those on the floor. It seemed like a mostly fair trade-off.

The pyrotechnics were introduced early in the set and while they weren’t Kiss level, they did offer a fun little pop (literally) to the show.

The set was close to 35 songs, ran two hours and showcased Underwood’s strength, whether on the straight country kickers “Church Bells,” bluesy numbers like “Drinking Alone” or the highly percussive “End Up With You.”

Underwood is at her best when unrestrained and belting it out and she got to do it with a throwback medley that showed why she won “American Idol” 14 years ago.

The women of country music

In interviews, Underwood said this tour was built as a response to a perceived lack of women in country music. So, this was an all-woman lineup, with the trio Runaway June and the duo Mattie & Tae serving as openers and joining Underwood on stage for an homage to the history of women in country music.

“We grew up listening to the best of the best. They’re the reason we get to do what we get to do,” Underwood said, introducing a medley of songs that spanned generations of country music – from “Stand By Your Man” and ”Walking After Midnight,” to “9 to 5” and “She’s in Love With a Boy.”

“Man I Feel Like A Woman,” was the closer and for good reason.

Underwood might think about spinning the idea off into an entire tour of its own. Having the six women on stage together doing those songs was the best part of the night.

Other thoughts

▪ Underwood has been inviting someone from each city on the tour to join her on the stage to help sing “The Champion” (the Ludacris collab she wrote for Super Bowl LII). In Fresno, it was a cancer survivor named Kelly and one of the more powerful moments of the night.

▪ The entire concert was slightly too loud, especially the low end on songs like “Wasted.” You could feel the bass drum in your chest and not always in a good way.

▪ This seemed to be a child-friendly show (maybe because it was Mother’s Day?). There was a more-than-normal amount of small children in the crowd. It seemed none of them had proper ear protection.

▪ There was a DJ playing between sets. That’s pretty standard. But, he had a T-shirt cannon and was firing swag into the crowd. It’s the first time I’ve seen that at an arena show.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Cry Pretty tour 360 setlist

  • Southbound
  • Cowboy Casanova
  • Good Girl
  • Last Name
  • Backsliding
  • Church Bells
  • Two Black Cadillacs
  • Blown Away
  • Drinking Alone
  • End Up With You
  • Flat on the Floor
  • Wasted
  • Temporary Home/See You Again/ I Know You Won’t/Just a Dream (With Aerosmith’s Dream On Snippet )
  • Jesus, Take the Wheel
  • The Bullet
  • Something in the Water
  • Low
  • Women of country medley
  • Undo It
  • The Champion
  • Before He Cheats

Encore

  • Cry Pretty
  • Love Wins
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