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Originally published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM

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Carrie Underwood ignites fair crowd at Puyallup

Singer Carrie Underwood gave a taut, energetic performance to a sold-out crowd Friday night at the Washington State Fair at Puyallup.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Dressed with a gold-sequined lightning bolt slashed across her outfit, Carrie Underwood stormed through the Washington State Fair in Puyallup on an overcast Friday night to play for a sold-out crowd.

The country superstar turned in a taut, 90-minute set stripped down of most of her usual tour trappings. Eight years after winning “American Idol,” Underwood is turning into a wily veteran and it was impressive to see how easily things came to her as she cheerfully bantered and belted her way through 20 of her best-known hits, including “Cowboy Casanova,” “Jesus Take The Wheel,” and “All-American Girl.”

Underwood also sang plenty of cuts off her latest album, “Blown Away,” including her opener, “Good Girl,” as well as “See You Again” and the title track, a rocking revenge tune that closed out her set. For the most part, Underwood’s vocal pyrotechnics sounded good, though the cavernous grandstand made her too bright at times.

The show was most fun when she stuck to the megahits. The crowd flawlessly sang a call and response during “Before He Cheats,” a No. 1 hit and Grammy winner for Underwood. “Two Black Cadillacs,” a spiritual successor that reached No. 2 on the charts, also got jilted lovers singing along.

It sounds somewhat strange, but seeing Underwood perform at a fair might be the most intimate kind of performance you’ll ever get out of a superstar of her stature. Without the distractions of an arena-style stage setup, Underwood left the duty of delivering thrills to her laser-accurate voice. Underwood is the rare singer who has the best of both worlds; her voice is explosive, but she also has inhuman staying power.

It’s a crowd-pleasing combination and Underwood knows just how to use her gift for maximum effect. She can, with seemingly little effort, hit registers meant for shearing diamonds to elicit shrieks of delight from fans, but also knows when to pull back, such as on her tender hit “Temporary Home.”

Though Underwood far from phoned it in Friday, she commanded the show with Swiss precision — probably a product of having put on a more extravagant, refined version every night for the past year on the “Blown Away” tour. Her tour over, Underwood thunders on.

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