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Review: Carrie Underwood keeps party rolling

Carrie Underwood performs in front of a full house Saturday at the Fargodome. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO - Stagehands had a short struggle with a stuck curtain Saturday night, seconds before Carrie Underwood took the Fargodome stage.

It was a rare glitch in Underwood's technical stage show that included multiple costume changes, a floating stage, raining glitter, and bouncing beach balls.

In front of a backdrop of windmills and prairie sunsets, Underwood arrived on the stage in a black-and-white, feathery frock that showed off the gams she's known for. Underwood's voice didn't disappoint fans; as crisp and clear as a radio version, she belted out a few fan favorites off the bat but slowed it down quickly, moving into the Randy Travis original "I Told You So" by the fourth song.

After changing into an aqua-and-plum party dress, Underwood kept the party rolling. The backdrops moved to a more modern tech look before Underwood disappeared for a quick costume change one more time, pulling on cowboy boots and cut-off denim. A rising stage floated Underwood and three bandmates out over the floor seats from the stage to the back rows, where she seemed to start making an effort to connect with her audience.

"This is definitely one of my most favorite parts of the show. I feel like I get to meet everybody, I can see all of your beautiful faces," Underwood said.

Underwood had been making the rounds on the main stage through each song before, but the show at times seemed to lack the energy Underwood's known for, especially during televised award performances. Some moments of her performance seemed more like Underwood had a job to do and was just getting it done instead of taking an opportunity to connect with her fans in the personal way only concerts can offer.

Underwood is less than a month into her fall "Blown Away Tour," which kicked off Sept. 14, with the Fargo show opening on the heels of playing the Target Center in Minneapolis. Before breaking into the mellow tune "Temporary Home," Underwood took the time to remind the crowd that for each ticket sold on her "Blown Away Tour," $1 will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Underwood rocked Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" in her fourth costume change, a gold top and spandex blue jeans, channeling former "American Idol" judge and Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler. Tyler wasn't a judge on the show in 2005 when Underwood took the championship, but the two have performed together.

Underwood's duet partner in the song "Remind Me," Brad Paisley, joined her onstage via recorded video.

Hunter Hayes opened for Underwood after seeing his self-written single, "Wanted," stay at No. 1 on the country charts for the second week.

Hayes isn't the main attraction on this tour, but that didn't stop him from performing like he was. Playing about as many instruments as Underwood changed outfits, he constantly gave the city of Fargo a shout-out, ending with a request to return. Hayes joined Underwood on stage mid-concert to sing along with "Leave Love Alone."

Saturday marked the second time Underwood played the dome, performing to a crowd of 10,500 in 2010.

Underwood promised a "long concert" Saturday night, saving some of her biggest hits and most energetic plays for closer to the end, including the tour and album's namesake, "Blown Away." Underwood released the album in February and said it will feature a "darker side" along with more songs penned by her.

While the audience tolerated Underwood's newer and unleashed tunes, like any concert, the crowd was waiting for their favorites, such as "Jesus Take the Wheel," her first No. 1 hit, and the female-favorite "Before He Cheats," which had the crowd carrying the chorus. The audience was waiting for "Blown Away," the high-energy song about a daughter who takes revenge on her alcoholic father by taking shelter in a tornado without him, and it was worth the wait, as Underwood saved it for her encore song.