She flashed those game-show chops that helped her secure the popular vote on "American Idol." Carrie Underwood, an impressively forceful singer and surprisingly effective storyteller, belted out her best for more than ninety minutes at a sold-out Prudential Center in Newark. Underwood, who has made her name by straddling the line between Nashville industrial-strength country music and MOR pop, barely needed a break to breathe. And when she finally took one -- right after the barn-burner “Undo It” -- she felt the need to apologize to the crowd.
Underwood is five years removed from her prime time win, but she still has the controlled demeanor of a television performer. The Oklahoma native is likeable, but somewhat emotionally remote. She does not stride into wild-girl country rock territory, as Gretchen Wilson does, or indulge in drama club antics like Taylor Swift, or spazz out, cartoon-style, like Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. She keeps her act machine-pressed and maintains her impeccable appearance for the stadium‘s video cameras. Even when she goes for those high notes on those heartrending ballads of hers, she remembers to smile. She told the audience, twice, that she considered herself incredibly fortunate. In a sense she still seems to be basking in a victory.
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