There's an old saying about good things happening to good people. That could not be more true in the case of Little Big Town – who after more than a decade of persevering through some challenging career waters, are enjoying their biggest success ever with their "Tornado" album. Anyone who knows Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook can vouch for them as people – but that's one side to the story. If they were not one of the most talented acts in the format, their personalities wouldn't matter.
The CMA Vocal Group of the Year brought their Tornado tour to Knoxville's Tennessee Theatre on Saturday, and their 90-minute set was as close to vocal perfection as any act out there right now. Kicking off with their saucy 2010 top ten "Little White Church," the group dazzled from the beginning -- offering a mixture of past hits as well as tracks from Tornado. Other highlights from their hit catalog included the soulful "Bring It On Home" and "Good As Gone."
"Tornado" has provided the group with their biggest success yet, so it was no surprise that the evening was slanted to include many tracks from the Gold-selling disc. "Front Porch Thing" and "On Fire Tonight" (which needs to be a summer single) got fans out of their seats, while Schlapman's vocal on "Sober" was nothing less than pristine, and Fairchild and Westbrook (who are married, but they don't play on that fact too much on stage) added one of the most emotional moments of the night with "Your Side Of The Bed." Also a highlight was their tip of the hat to Fleetwood Mac on "The Chain."
At the end of the night, the group gave fans the songs they had been waiting for – a fun and flirty romp through "Pontoon" and a confidence-laden "Tornado." Before the evening came to a too-quick end, it was a trip back to the future for their breakthrough hit "Boondocks." It has been a great rise to the top for Little Big Town.
Opening the show was Mercury's Kacey Musgraves. It was a week to remember for the Texas native, as she received four nominations for the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Association Awards. If you are one who wonders about the future of country music and where it is headed, rest assured. Musgraves brings to mind the glory days of Loretta Lynn – an artist who has never been afraid to tell it like it is, or at least the way she sees it.
She delivered a flawless thirty-minute set highlighted by the slightly irreverent (and at times downright suggestive) lyrics of such songs as "My House," "Follow Your Arrow," and "It Is What It Is," which would have made a great Lynn duet with Conway Twitty circa 1977. She's country -- and proud of it.