Close to a decade ago, the trio of Lady Antebellum got their start playing at Nashville hotspot 3rd and Lindsley. After all those years, and 12 singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Country Airplay charts, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood have earned the right to take their show four blocks away — to Nashville’s biggest concert venue, the Bridgestone Arena.
The trio sat down with the media Monday to discuss their Wheels Up tour, which will feature their first major headlining stop in Music City on Sept. 11. “We’ve talked about doing this for the longest time, and it’s always a scary thing,” Kelley admitted. “Nashville is very much industry-heavy, obviously, and we know there are going to be a lot of our peers there. You want to make sure that you’re ready and you’re in a point at your career where you can fill it up. We felt like we’ve had such an amazing year with ‘Bartender,’ and to have these two amazing openers in Sam Hunt and Hunter Hayes, this was the year to come out swinging. We just want to put on a good show. We’ve done some of the smaller venues like the Ryman, but to go out and do Bridgestone is one of those milestone moments.”
With the Nashville appearance falling on such a meaningful date on the calendar, Scott said it proves to be a special night. “To be in our hometown on such a special day of the year and bring in a patriotic theme as well as to say thank you to those people that we are surrounded by on a daily basis, we’ll be able to find a creative way to say ‘thank you’ during that show. It’s also nice to be home, especially since I’m born and raised here — a lot of my friends and family will be really excited. People have asked me over and over when we were going to play it, and now we can say, ‘We are.'”
Haywood agreed with Scott, saying the night would be a memorable one for all involved. “I think we’re going to try to incorporate holding some tickets for some of people from Fort Campbell, since it’s September 11, and do some special things that night. I think it’s going to be one to remember in our career.” In addition to the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Sept. 11 is also Kelley’s 34 birthday.
Nashville is just one of 65 stops on the tour as of right now, and the beginning of their run also promises to be very memorable. The tour starts Feb. 28 in Europe and will hit the United States in May. Haywood said Lady A will bring their “A-game” to stages here and abroad.
“We’re in the planning stages, production-wise, of trying to find some really cool and creative things that are different to do for the tour this year. We’re kicking off the tour in Europe, going all the way over to Norway, Stockholm, down to the U.K., and then over to Australia. It’s going to be a great year,” he said — with more than a little bit of excitement in his voice.
Playing overseas is always a treat for the ACM nominees because the fans know the music very intently, said Scott. “The great thing about European and Australian fans is that they know our records backwards and forwards — even the deepest album cuts, they know. So it opens up more of our catalog to throw into our set list.”
One reason for the incredible reception overseas is that the fans have to look a little deeper for their music, Kelley offered. “You kind of forget until you go over there and see the fans and the press, and you feel that excitement. They do seem like they are very loyal, because I think they don’t get as much of us on the radio, so when we do come over, they are excited by it.”
Fans in all countries have been singing along with their recent chat-topping hit “Bartender,” as well as their current single “Freestyle,” which sits at No. 17 on the Country Airplay chart. Adding a few more tempo-driven tunes to their albums was important, said Kelley. “That was the reason we titled the album 747, was because we wanted to come at you with a little more energy. To see a song go over like ‘Freestyle’ has been great. It’s probably not going to be the song that when I’m 70 years old, I will tell my grandchildren, ‘Go listen to “Freestyle.” It will blow your mind,’ but it is what it is,” he said with a laugh. “Music does not always have to be so serious, and I think we’ve had so many serious and deep songs. I think fans like it when we mix it up.”
For a full list of tour dates, visit LadyAntebellum.com.