Lady Antebellum Shows No Signs of Slowing Down at Nashville Concert: Live Review

Lady Antebellum
Review
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Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP

Lady Antebellum made the news rounds a couple weeks ago when the country band’s members told the press they’d be taking time off after their current tour.

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Members Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood are relatively new parents, and Charles Kelley and his wife have a baby on the way. So it makes sense. But judging from Friday night’s (Sept. 11) sold-out performance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, as part of their Wheels Up tour, the group is far from running out of steam -- instead they seem to be climbing altitude with a force resembling a 747, the title of their new Capitol Nashville album.

With a decade under their belt as one of the dominant vocal groups in the genre, the trio came to play -- and they did just that, giving fans a healthy dose of their hit catalog. They reached back to their beginnings for “Love Don’t Live Here” and “Lookin’ for a Good Time,” with the latter bringing out the playful chemistry between Scott and Kelley. The former also showed her more saucy side with the hit “Bartender” and “Downtown,” both of which hit the right note with Lady A’s devoted legion of female fans, especially.

Scott seems to approach the role of temptress with eagerness, tipping the covers hat to Shania Twain with a lively take on “Any Man of Mine.” Vocally, he can also slay the ballads, possessing one of the most dreamy and sweet voices in the country format. She showed that on “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” and “American Honey,” which might very well be the second best single of their career.

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Kelley (celebrating his 34rd birthday) might very well have given the performance of the night with his touching acapella version of “Hello World,” which he dedicated to all the military and first responders on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. Haywood was also spot on during the night with his impeccable guitar work and harmonies.

After their initial set, Lady A returned for quite a lengthy encore, with “747,” “Need You Now” and “We Owned the Night.” On the middle selection, Kelley and Scott made the power ballad as fresh and as compelling as ever  and even though the song has been played continuously on country and pop radio since its release in 2009, the dramatic flair of the ballad continues to be their most endearing single.

The Wheels Up tour demonstrated why it has been one of the biggest value for the buck, with Sam Hunt and Hunter Hayes opening the show. For being the first act of the night, Hunt took to the stage with confidence and swagger, as fans sang along with each and every word -- kind of a rarity for an artist in that slot.

Hits like “House Party,” “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” kept the crowd on its feet, and upcoming single “Breakup in a Small Town” should make him four of four in terms of number one hits, given the crowd reaction. Hunt also was a part of one of the more sizzling parts of the night, collaborating with the headliners on Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

It’s been a pleasure to watch Hayes continue to develop as a live performer. Having had some headlining experience under his belt, the Louisiana native kept the tempo going throughout his set, with songs like “Storm Warning,” “Everybody’s Got Somebody but Me” and “Tattoo” eliciting screams from his fan base.

It was his ballad “Wanted” that seemed to work the best on the crowd, whose ability to sing the lyrics back to him made him go straight to a couple of fans  and give them the microphone, letting them perform an entire chorus.

As the night came to a conclusion, Lady Antebellum sent fans into the fall-like evening with “We Owned the Night” and a nod to Fleetwood Mac with “Landslide.” It’s going to be very interesting to see where Kelley, Scott and Haywood go next as a trio, but their enthusiasm and skill at entertaining a crowd was very much in play Friday night as they look forward to what should be a very exciting phase of their career.