Concert review

Carrie Underwood returned to Seattle for the first time since 2016 on Friday night, wowing what looked to be a sold-out St. Patrick’s Day crowd at Climate Pledge Arena with a nearly two-hour set that served as a potent reminder that Underwood truly is the reigning queen of country music.

Sporting numerous sparkly outfits, the Oklahoma singer prowled across the diamond-shaped stage like an apex predator, soared high over the crowd twice and even bashed a ferocious drum solo. Throughout it all, she treated the raucous mix of young and older fans on hand to 24 of her biggest hits and brought her “Denim & Rhinestones” tour to a triumphant close after six months on the road.

Before Underwood hit the stage, Jimmie Allen proved that his pleasing mix of country sprinkled with touches of hip-hop, R&B and soul deserves a bigger space in the country music scene. Working through nine songs including “Freedom Was a Highway” and his singalong hit “Down Home,” Allen seemed at ease and like he was having quite a bit of fun as the crowd filed in. By the time he finished his 48-minute set, the arena was full and cheering for more.

Of course, Underwood was the star the fans were there to see and she didn’t disappoint. Rising from below the stage, she launched into her 2012 No. 1 hit “Good Girl” and brought the crowd instantly to its feet and kept them there most of the night. She continued the arena-rock feel with “Church Bells,” another No. 1 hit, before launching into a fun call-and-response with the crowd on “Undo It.” By the time she got to “Hate My Heart” off 2022’s “Denim & Rhinestones,” the Seattle Kraken’s home was shaking.

Underwood has one of the most powerful voices in modern music but what’s really special is how loud she can get without ever getting close to sounding shrill. She put this skill on full display several times as she turned in a commanding performance of “Wasted,” which she said is her favorite song off her 2005 debut album, “Some Hearts.”

Her flame-throwing voice was also called into service on double-Grammy-winning “Blown Away,” and it’s at this point you’d be forgiven if you had a hard time identifying the genre Underwood operates in as country music. That’s not to question Underwood’s country credentials at all, but it’s clear that while her heart might be country, her soul has more than a dash of rock ‘n’ roll.


She finally slowed things down with a sultry new song, “Burn,” which featured some appropriate flames sprouting from the stage floor. In fact, the entire show was a frenetic rush of spectacle designed to keep people’s attention in the TikTok era of overstimulation, and it was executed at the highest level. By the halfway point of the show, Underwood was singing one of her new singles, “Ghost Story,” sitting on a swing that flew high above the crowd to a satellite stage toward the back of the arena — and it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to be happening at that moment.

Underwood got a bit emotional introducing the song “Garden,” which she said she hoped would add some positivity to the world. And then she brought the crowd to its feet once again in thunderous applause as she finished off a stellar version of early hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel” with a few soaring lines from “How Great Thou Art.”

Perhaps sensing that she would not have to save her voice any longer with the tour about to end, Underwood really let loose on her final few songs, including Grammy-winner “Last Name” and “Something in the Water” before coming back out to close the show with a pitch-perfect version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses and “Before He Cheats.”

As the crowd surged out of the arena into the crisp night air, one fan captured the overall reaction to the joyous yet relentlessly professional show. “What a night,” he could be heard repeating to himself over and over. “What a night.”