Something amazing set up shop at London’s Budweiser Gardens on Monday night. Spanning the entire 200 feet of the arena floor, the stage was set, for what I would personally say, was the show of the year thus far in London.
Carrie Underwood, season four winner of American Idol is on the road with her Storyteller World Tour. There was not an empty seat in the arena for this highly anticipated show. Country radio stations had declared the day, “Carrie Underwood”, day in town and it was wall to wall Carrie playing on the radio for my drive into London.
First thing I can tell, you know you’re in for a big show when its hard to find a parking spot in downtown London. I have to give a special shout out to the parking attendant who runs the parking lot behind London’s historic former courthouse and jail. His sign said, “lot full”, which never happens in all the years I have been going to shows here, and he found me a spot to squeeze into.
Off to the show I went with only a few minutes to spare. You could feel the excitement around the venue with massive tour buses and a dozen or more tractor trailers all parked at the loading area of the downtown venue. The few fans still making their way into the arena knew they were in for a treat.
Opening the show was Easton Corbin. I saw this fellow last year at London’s famous Rock the Park Gone Country festival, and I think he just keeps getting better each time I see him. His sound got the crowd fired up. Easton only used the center section of the stage so his presence in the round needed to be big, and judging by the crowds reaction, he accomplished that mission. With all his hits, he got the crowd hyped up and ready for the main event.
Between sets, DJ Vinom kept the crowd fired up with a mix of country songs, pop songs and of course just before the main event was to start, Journey hit the airwaves. It was hard to hear the music over the capacity crowd belting out every word. He shot a few t-shirts into the crowd and just kept the energy level at the max.
When the lights went dark, we all knew it was that time, as the queen of country lowered from the ceiling atop a giant pyramid of LEDs. The opening song, “Runway Renegade”, was the kick off to what was going to be a night to remember. All the big hits made it into the set list including her latest single, “Church Bells”, “Wasted”, “All American Girls”, and of course, “Smoke Break”.
There was a moment where Carrie spent some time talking with the crowd about her country music idol, Dolly Parton. She then belted out an amazing performance of, “I Will Always Love You”, which had fans in the arena in awe!
She invited her friends who are on tour with her, Easton Corbin and The Swon Brothers, out on the stage as she was having some fun with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands famous, “Fishin’ in the Dark”. The crowd was into the groove and the show kept barreling forward from there. For almost two hours Carrie kept rolling out hit after hit.
This being the 42nd and final stop on this leg of the tour, the production was flawless. Not only does Carrie Underwood have an incredible vocal ability, the stage show production she brings along for the ride is unbelievable. With lasers, incredible light show, pyro and moving parts of the stage, it is a spectacle that needs to be seen.
With the entire Canadian Country Music communities eyes on London, this show is just one of many big time country music shows to roll into London, ON. This year’s line up of country music superstars is endless for the Southern Ontario city who welcomes the CCMA awards this fall. Keep tuned to www.soundcheckentertainment.ca for all the coverage of this year’s festivities in London this summer.
Your next chance to catch, “The Storyteller Tour”, is this fall, in Hamilton, at First Ontario Center. Better hurry, tickets will be hard to get after the epic show that she put on in London.
Bill Woodcock / @BillWoodcock