August 13, 2011
LeBreton Flats Park, Ottawa - August 12, 2011
By AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

OTTAWA - There's a new face of Nashville's country gal -- two of them, actually -- as Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert took centre stage at the Capital Hoedown Friday, showcasing two very different streams of the hot country sound.

At one end is Underwood, the former American Idol heartthrob who rocketed to fame with a freshly-polished sound straight from the factoryworks of Music City.

At the other end is Lambert, with her rough-and-ready Texas sass and raw-edged, take no prisoners attitude.

Underwood was positively buoyant, kicking into the bouncy Cowboy Casanova as more than 17,000 fans sang along with every line.

"It is so very good to be back in Ottawa, we've missed you guys," Underwood beamed, breezing through Quitter, Wasted and Some Hearts.

Underwood put on her best country gal growl on Flat on the Floor, with crunchy guitars and fiddles rocking out and reaching to the rafters.


The band took a step back on the lovely Temporary Home, allowing her crystalline voice to ring out in the night, and again on her signature ballad Jesus, Take the Wheel.

Underwood took fans on a little trip down Idol lane, doing her best impression of current Idol judge Steven Tyler on Aerosmith's Walk This Way, and channelling her inner Axl for G'nR's Paradise City.

Never a bad thing to leave your fans wanting more, but if there was one complaint, it was that the headlining set clocked in at just over 60 minutes, with fans streaming home at 10 p.m.

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Miranda Lambert may not bring about the "Revolution" she promises in the name of her latest album and tour, but the Longview, TX songstress certainly represents an evolution away from the finely-manicured Nashville sound.

With a hot pink acoustic guitar, Lambert hit the stage at sunset, blazing her way through an hour-long set that can honestly be defined as "new" country, with a freshness, a sass and straight-shooting delivery all-too-rare among her hot country contemporaries.

Opening with Only Prettier, followed by the driving beat of Kerosene, Lambert then paid tribute to all the "small town heroes" on Small Town Saturday Night, a tune propelled by an electric guitar riff that would've made Keith Richards proud.

Lambert showed she's no one-trick pony, introducing her new band of "hot chicks" -- the Pistol Annies -- who joined her midset for a gospel-flavoured detour.

If Lambert represents the new face of hot country, it's a most welcome progression.