Carrie Underwood at the Arena

At the last minute, and thanks to the Downtown Stockton Alliance Facebook post about available tickets, my wife and I decided to take our daughters to the Carrie Underwood concert. We got to our seats in section 212 just before 7:30 and just before Sons of Sylvia took the stage. The Clark brothers from Virginia opened up with Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll.

They entertained as the audience filed in and even played a short "bluegrass picking" tune that didn't seem to be a big hit with the crowd but, as a bluegrass and newgrass fan I enjoyed it.

Billy Currington took the stage later in the night and the opened with "How County Boys Roll". The ladies seemed to go nuts every time his face (and his curls) showed up on the video screen at either side of the stage.

The crowd noise level went up when he performed "People are Crazy", especially during the "... beer is good" part. He closed his set with my personal favorite "Good Directions".

Underwood took the stage a little after 9 with "Cowboy Casanova".

After a couple of songs she told the crowd that she likes to learn about the cities where she performs by looking at Wikipedia. She asked, "you guys have an Asparagus Festival?" and the fans cheered! She said they celebrate Okrafest back in her home town of Checotah, Oklahoma.

She performed favorites like "Wasted", "Some Hearts", "Temporary Home", "All American Girl", and " So Small". After walking off the stage, she returned in the bed of a blue pickup truck (complete with "Carrie" on the tailgate) and was hoisted above the audience while she sang John Denver's hit, "Country Roads". Judging by the crowd, "Undo It", with it's chunky and distorted resonator guitar rhythms, was certainly a favorite.

 Carrie Underwood, Stockton Arena

Carrie Underwood, Stockton Arena

Underwood took a few breaks to talk to the audience and told of how she grew up singing everywhere. The Arena got louder with every mention of American Idol. She said that if her life hadn't turned out the way it did she would've likely still been singing, maybe even at the Asparagus Festival. I always enjoy it when artists talk to the crowd and she seemed to do so often and comfortably.

My favorite performance of the night was "Jesus Take The Wheel" with a few lines from "How Great Thou Art" at the end. She sang it masterfully and was full of emotion. I also think that, besides the very end of the show, the crowd was at its loudest at that point.

She brought Sons of Sylvia back on stage and performed the duet "What Can I Say" from her 2010 release Play On. She payed homage to The Grand Ol' Opry when she performed "I Told You So" with Randy Travis on video.

She closed her set with a very loud "Last Name" before coming back for an encore with "Before He Cheats" and "Songs Like This".

We were all glad we went. It was an awesome show. Great music and theatrics! I'm no fashion expert but Underwood looked exquisite, especially in the dress that lit up. Our daughters had a great time and there seemed to be a pretty diverse cross section of music fans there. I even spotted Thunder President Dan Chapman and United Way of San Joaquin CEO Andy Prokop. I've not yet seen how many tickets were sold but it looked to be just short of being sold out.

This show, and last week's Snoop Dogg / Ice Cube show, are exactly what make Stockton great!