Carrie Underwood triumphantly returned to the stage for the Cry Pretty Tour 360 less than four months after the birth of her second child. Her most massive tour production yet, the intimate in-the-round stage boasted numerous rotating risers and lifts that carried the singer and her band through the air during her two-hour set at Birmingham, Ala.’s Legacy Arena at the BJCC on Friday evening (May 3).
“It feels good to be back on the road again,” the country singer said to screams midway through her second tour stop. Underwood’s powerful vocals and commanding stage presence was showcased throughout her vibrant set, which included fireworks, smoke, lasers and 3D LED screens that made every spot in the arena the best seat in the house.
Here are five unforgettable moments of Underwood’s Cry Pretty Tour 360.
Underwood kicked off the show with her infectious new single “Southbound.” A spectacular opening, the audience was treated to a DJ spinning the track and plenty of fireworks as Underwood rose from beneath the stage. The headliner’s unyielding energy was contagious as she belted the song and had the arena on its feet. An engaging start to her two-hour set, the song was followed by a one-two punch of “Cowboy Casanova” and “Good Girl” before Underwood segued into fan favorite “Last Name,” which further highlighted her powerhouse vocals.
Old school medley
While Underwood’s performance was heavy with songs from her latest album, 2018’s Cry Pretty, the singer never forgot where she came from and the early songs that fans first fell in love with. “Fourteen years ago I got on a rocket ship I guess you could say, called American Idol,” she said. “It’s hard to believe, still, that I’m standing on this stage. Every day there’s some moment that happens that I could pinch myself and say, ‘How do I get to do this?’ The thing that I wanted to do when I was three-years-old, I’m doing right now…I’m going to take a walk down memory lane and do some songs that we haven’t done in a long time.”
Her four-song medley included the soaring ballad “Temporary Home,” the poignant “See You Again,” which she asked the crowd to hold up their cell phones and “shine a light for those people that we miss and we can’t wait to see again,” and her most requested song, “I Know You Won’t” from 2007’s Carnival Ride. The nostalgic moment closed with the heart-wrenching “Just A Dream” before she segued into a memorable cover of Aerosmith’s anthemic “Dream On” where her jaw-dropping vocal range would've made Steven Tyler proud.
Girl power: Paying tribute to the women who paved the way
Underwood’s tour boasts an all-female roster with openers Maddie & Tae and Runaway June, and the impact female vocalists have had on the country genre was not lost on the singer. “We would not be able to stand up here and do what we get to do had there not been so many incredible women of country music that paved the way to allow us to do this," she said as she prefaced a seven-minute mash-up with her tour openers. "Right now we would like to pay tribute to a fraction of those women.”
As the women covered each song, images of the iconic trailblazers were shown on the screens above them. Highlights included Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” The women also paid tribute to the genre with additional snippets of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” The Judds’ “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain,” Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love with the Boy,” Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” Faith Hill’s “Wild One,” and Reba McEntire’s “Why Haven’t I Heard From You.”
“The Champion” with local Alabama mom
Throughout her tour, Underwood has enlisted fans to take part in the challenge of sharing the stage with her and rapping along to Ludacris’ part on their collaboration, “The Champion.” The anthemic song has taken on a life of its own, and Underwood confessed that she loves to release songs that inspire people. Little did she know the woman she brought out next would kick her concert up a notch.
“Tonight we have Jessica and she is from Birmingham. She has a six-year-old daughter and she is Jessica’s champion,” Underwood told the crowd. “She has mild cerebral palsy and the past six months she’s had a couple surgeries. She’s here tonight and her mama is about to take the stage with me and show everybody that Oli is her champion.”
Jessica preceded to rap Ludacris’ portion of the song as well as share some of Underwood’s lines as she flawlessly belted the chorus. Hard to believe that the two women were only meeting for the first time on stage, Jessica proved her star power and held her own beside the headliner.
Underwood has several songs in her lengthy catalog that tug on the heartstrings, including the powerful “Jesus Take the Wheel,” show-stopper “Something In the Water” and more recently, the heartbreaking “The Bullet.” The tear-jerking track, featured on Cry Pretty, discusses a mother burying her son.
“I’m proud to be part of a genre of music where I can sing songs like that,” she said following her performance of “Jesus Take the Wheel.” “This next one means something to me and is definitely very important.” An emotional tune that showcased Underwood’s power as a vocalist, her performance of "The Bullet" included stirring images of a graveyard, a candle-lit prayer vigil and caskets draped with American flags, further driving the song's point home. An artist that both entertains and inspires, Underwood’s Cry Pretty Tour 360 cements her entertainer of the year status.