Courtesy of Jeff Johnson
Friday, June 23, 2023 | 2 a.m.
It would seem that Carrie Underwood and Resorts World Las Vegas go together, to quote the title track from her latest album, “like jet black and a Cadillac, like Tennessee and a bottle of Jack, Dolly and a tape deck on the way back.”
Underwood, the country superstar perhaps best known for performing the theme song to open the “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts the past 10 years, kicked off the 2023 portion of her “Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency” shows Wednesday at the Resorts World Theatre. And just like the 18 shows she did in 2021 and 2022 at Resorts World, she performed Wednesday in front of a sold-out audience of 5,000.
“Two Black Cadillacs”
“Jesus Take the Wheel”-“How Great Thou Art”
“Denim & Rhinestones”
“Flat on the Floor”
“Rock and Roll” (Led Zeppelin cover)
“Before He Cheats”
“Something in the Water”
And just like those 18 shows she did in 2021 and 2022, Underwood largely stuck to the same script: An evening of songs that have spanned Underwood’s career, which took off after she won Season 4 of “American Idol” in 2005, combined with spectacular special effects, dancers, aerialists, acrobats and otherworldly sets.
The one noticeable difference from her earlier shows: the addition of “Denim & Rhinestones” to the setlist. During the song, Underwood was joined onstage by six dancers — male and female — dressed appropriately from head to toe in denim adorned by rhinestones. The song, the title track from her ninth and latest studio album released in June 2022, was sandwiched in between Underwood’s 2008 uplifting hit, “All-American Girl,” and“Flat on the Floor.”
For “All-American Girl,” Underwood called a newly engaged member of the audience, Colleen, to the stage to perform with her. The Floridian, in town to celebrate a bachelorette party, didn’t disappoint the headliner or the audience in the duet.
But don’t be fooled: The night was a reflection on Underwood’s career.
She told the audience early on that “we’re going to be reflecting over a career that I’m so proud of.”
And reflect, she did. Her setlist spanned topics from faith (“Jesus Take the Wheel” / “How Great Thou Art” medley and “Something in the Water”) to suspect boyfriends (“Cowboy Casanova,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Dirty Laundry,” and “Before He Cheats.”)
The singer’s showed off her voice throughout the night, but especially at the end of her “Jesus Take the Wheel” / “How Great Thou Art” medley and on “Cry Pretty,” a reflection on the aftermath of a widely reported 2017 incident in which Underwood fell outside her home, broke her wrist and suffered cuts to her face.
“Blown Away,” which tells a girl’s story growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, offered a feast for the audience’s eyes. Underwood sang from a raised platform at rear-center stage, surrounded by haunting images of lighting strikes. Meanwhile at the front of the stage, two graceful dancers with oversized hoops were joined by two sets of aerialists performing above on smaller hoops.
But that was just one of several eye-popping sets, designed by Nick Whitehouse, CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based Fireplay, to delight the audience.
Two of the most striking were used for the final two songs of the 90-minute show. “Before He Cheats” employed a Jeep on which dancers “took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights,” followed by Underwood setting the vehicle on fire as she sang, “Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”
The finale again was “Something in the Water,” in which Underwood appears on what’s been described as a water wall feature. The spectacular set places Underwood singing from a cutout in the center as water cascades from the top. She’s flanked on her right and left by dancers performing choreographed moves as water drops on the wall all around them.
All in all, the familiar elements added to an extremely entertaining night.
“Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency” continues at Resorts World Theatre at 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Wednesday; June 30 and July 1; Sept. 20, 22, 23, 27, 29 and 30; Nov. 29; Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16. For ticket information, go online to rwlasvegas.com/entertainment/carrie-underwood-2.