SALT LAKE CITY — “Did y’all see us on TV Sunday?” Lady Antebellum lead singer Charles Kelley asked the Energy Solutions Arena crowd Tuesday night, referring to his band’s recent Grammy win for best country album. “The first thing I said when I walked off that stage was, ‘I can’t wait to rock Salt Lake City on Tuesday.'”
Whether Kelley was being sincere or just saying the right thing to pump up the crowd, one thing is for sure: the sold out crowd of about 14,000 Tuesday couldn’t wait for Lady Antebellum.
Arguably the biggest group in country music right now, Lady A delivered a crowd-pleasing 90 minute set, playing songs off all three of their albums as well as their typical bevy of cover tunes.
Individually, Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood have good voices. But it’s when their voices blend…particularly Kelley and Scott…that they are outstanding.
Those two and three part harmonies were on display all night as the band came out on stage with all cylinders firing, opening with “We Owned the Night” followed by the upbeat “Stars Tonight.” The country-rock-pop trio were at their best Tuesday night during the more upbeat numbers like “Lookin’ for a Good Time,” “Our Kind of Love,” their first ever singe “Love Don’t Live Here” and their hit, “I Run To You,” (“This song changed our lives,” Kelley said before launching into the song.”)
Kelley and Scott took turns with their showcasing their vocals, Kelley with “Hello World” and Scott with “As You Turn Away,” a song voted on by fans before the show through texting. Scott called the song off their latest album, Own The Night, the most personal song on the record for her.
The last time Lady A was in Salt Lake City in late 2010, they played a sold out show at the much smaller Rail Events Center.
This time, the trio and their four-piece backing band (which included Scott’s husband, drummer Chris Tyrrell) casually moved around a much larger, bi-level stage which included three giant video screens in the rear and a catwalk that stretched out to center court of arena. They used the end of that ramp for an acoustic version of “American Honey” (a cute 3-year-old got the best seat of the house when she was pulled on stage and held by Scott for half the song) and a jam session with openers Rucker and Thompson Square on The Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.”
Later, the band blasted out a cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”
Scott, who wore a festive red top for Valentine’s Day, joked with the crowd that if they didn’t come to the show with their Valentine, there was still a chance they could go home with one.
The minor criticisms of the evening — although there were few: what I really enjoyed about the Rail Events show in 2010 was how energetic and upbeat it was. Tuesday night, Lady A hit a stretch where they needed to throw one more of their upbeat country-rock songs into the string of ballads.
Also at times, the mixing could have been better as the vocals were drowned out by the music. But, again, just minor blips in what was overall a fun show.
Lady A ended the night with mega-hits “Just A Kiss” and their crossover smash “Need You Now.”
Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Rucker played essentially the same set he performed in 2010 opening for Brad Paisley at the USANA Amphitheatre. And it was still really good.
Rucker played his country hits “Come Back Song,” “History in the Making” and “Alright” along with a couple of Hootie classics like “Hold My Hand” and ended again with a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
Between Rucker and Lady A’s set, the stage crew held a very entertaining dance contest where the winner got upgraded seats into a pit right in the middle of Lady Antebellum’s stage where about 50 fans got a very up close and personal view of the show. So if you’re going to an upcoming Lady A show, practice your dance moves and get there early.
The crowd was a wide range of ages and, by appearance, music genres. This was not a total belt-buckle and ten-gallon hat type of audience. But Lady A isn’t that type of band. That was also reflected in the warmup music played by the DJ before Lady Antebellum took the stage, ranging from everything from Ozzy to LMFAO. There was also a Whitney Houston tribute thrown in with the crowd applauding as the DJ played “I Wanna Dance (With Somebody Who Loves Me).”