Country singer Carrie Underwood is more than just a country singer. She can bring it vocally.
The former American Idol winner from 2005 started off a little slow at her concert Friday at the Reno Events Center, but finished fantastically in front of a sold-out crowd.
Underwood's set lasted nearly two hours which included a 4-song set on a stage that was floating above the crowd and a magnificent ending.
Underwood started a little slow, but it wasn't necessarily her fault.
Often times, an artist's voice gets overwhelmed by the sound from the band. This forced Underwood to belt when it wasn't needed.
In her song "Cowboy Cassanova," Underwood already flexes her vocal chords to keep pace with the beat and seemingly had to give an extra effort just to be heard. It was unfortunate and a sound I wasn't expecting.
I felt the concert turned the corner when she slowed things down with "Temporary Home." Again, this song lets Underwood focus on her strengths, her vocals, in a comfortable setting. Her voice was the star while the band backed off.
That's when she really got intimate with the crowd and displayed her tremendous talent. She finished the set with her latest song, "Blown Away," and had a mini twister of fog shooting up through the stage right behind her. It was a great end to a solid performance.
In the middle of the concert was a four-song set on a suspended stage hanging from the rafters. It lifted straight up, then slowly moved about 50-feet out over the crowd in the center of the arena.
Underwood's hanging stage was about 15 feet above the crowd, had a clear plastic floor so people below could see through and was spinning so Underwood could focus on each corner of the arena. It was sort of scary watching from the side, but all you could do was hope the engineering staff did their jobs.
Opening for Underwood was rising artist Hunter Hayes. On the radio, Hayes is a youthful change of pace and he has people optimistic he can become a great performer. His latest song, "Wanted," is wonderfully written and wonderfully delivered (It's considered "our song" by my girlfriend and I.)
Hayes, 21, however, left me wondering why he was at a country concert.
Considering that many country folk traveled from rural areas like Yerington and Fallon to see the show, Hayes had Justin Bieber-like attributes.
Dressed in skinny jeans, Chucks and a tight fitting, three-button long-sleeved shirt, Hayes had a pitchy immature voice that had the young ladies in the crowd swooning but others shaking their heads.
It was like he had duped us into believing he was a country singer on the radio and showed up as a pop singer. I think opening for Carried Underwood, who has pop-like qualities, is a good fit, but he seems to be more of the type like Taylor Swift, who has songs on country stations and Hip Hop-pop music stations.
To his credit, Hayes did show expert skills on the guitar and piano.