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Carrie Underwood at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin – 14th March 2013

She sang I Can’t Make You Love Me and clucked like a chicken almost ten years ago on American Idol. Turns out, she could make people love her, dominating the voting every week on the competition and eventually winning by a landslide. She’s come a long way since, to become a true success story of such TV talent shows.

Despite a perceived lack of support for mainstream country here in Ireland, Underwood took her ‘Blown Away’ tour to our fair city for one night in the Olympia Theatre. We could all be lesser people and decide to insert a pun about being ‘blown away’ by the whole thing, but every party involved here deserves better. With such an audacious tour name, Underwood sure is sure of herself. The only question now is whether or not she can live up to it.

Appearing on stage as the wholesome farm girl next door, carved out meticulously by the country music Gods (we assume this to be Dolly Parton), Underwood literally shines. Her hair reflects the spotlight like a mirror, while her pearly whites gleam from behind her overjoyed smile.

Tonight is low-key in comparison to her U.S. Leg, and we can tell. It’s like a day off for her really, but not to the detriment of her performance. The venue is probably smaller than she’s used to, but considering Ireland’s chilly relationship with country music, it’s positively booming. Dressed in a black jacket, white t-shirt and jeans, there’s no messing as she launches into a killer set tethering on the edge of country and good old fashion rock’n’roll.

In a plump set, Underwood makes her way through her back catalogue of Grammy award-winning, platinum selling albums. Two Black Cadillacs attempts to introduce a bad-ass tone that only the undeniably brilliant Last Name can cash in. Backing singers bring welcome texture to such a powerful voice without even slightly distracting from it. Looking for a fault in her vocal is like trying to find a needle in the haystack that should rightly be cast to the side of the stage.

The slower I Told You So, Good Girl and Before He Cheats are right up there in the predictably good stakes, while the edgier Wasted and Cowboy Casanova attempt to highlight her appeal. The appeal of having to stop your waist from swaying in a half-hearted line dance, enchanted by the pied piper of Southern twang.

But there’s still effort in that sass, like trying to convince the wholesome Christian girl to swig a bottle of whiskey and chew tobacco to Johnny Cash. So it’s hard to outline Underwood’s individual stamp on things without drawing around the fading ink. Speaking sweetly about American Idol, it all seems a bit “yes, move on.” Because we don’t associate her with American Idol anymore, which is clear as she launches into Temporary Home and Quitter, to us especially, it’s gone past that.

Finishing up with I Know You Won’t, the powerful ballad showers the Olympia under darkness. Underwood shines under the spotlight—where she belongs—but doesn’t look it. An unassuming girl-next-door that just sucker-punched you with her voice, sure she won’t drink the whiskey, but damn sure she’ll be the first one blowing up the choir Sunday am.

Blown Away arrives to more like a slight misbalancing breeze, but with the audience pleased, she’s off for a Guinness. Having never let the note drop once over the insanely long set, it’s duly deserved.

Carrie Underwood Photo Gallery

Photos: Abe Tarrush