In June of 2009, I saw a relatively unknown band named Lady Antebellum as the first opening act before Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney on his “Sun City Carnival” Tour at New York’s famous Jones Beach Amphitheater. While they had garnered some buzz on the heels of “Love Don’t Live Here” and “Lookin’ For A Good Time,” they were still new to the country world, but their chemistry and harmonies were undeniable.
Fast forward five years and Lady Antebellum headlined that very same venue last night as part of their “Take Me Downtown Tour.” Since their first stop at Jones Beach, they’ve had six #1 hits and won seven GRAMMY Awards. However, despite exhibiting some of the polish and choreography of a band with such accolades, not much has changed. The band remains tight (many of the musicians have been with the trio for years), the harmonies impeccable and the chemistry between all three members palpable.
Opening with their recent hit “Compass,” Lady A commanded the stage with Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott trading off lead vocals, while Dave Haywood acted as a musical and vocal backbone for his showier counterparts. The show was jam packed with hits and album favorites, smoothly flowing from pulsing up tempos to the romantic ballads the trio has become known for. Early in the show, they dipped into unfamiliar territory, performing a song off their forthcoming album 747. Titled “Long Stretch of Love,” the song was a catchy uptempo that has next single written all over it.
An early highlight of the show was the group’s cover of the Stevie Nicks’ classic “Rhiannon.” Led by Scott, the talented threesome bended their vocals over the famous and mysterious song before launching back into their own catalog with their first #1, “I Run To You.”
The highlights continued from there as the band made their way through the audience to a small stage at the back of the floor. It was here that the lady in Lady Antebellum was forced to deal with her fear of heights, admitting that she was slightly terrified of the small platform. However, her terror was short lived as they launched into an impressive acoustic and acapella medley of “Dancin’ Away With My Heart,” “Wanted You More,” “Goodbye Town” and “Hello World.” It was during a particularly tender moment in that last song when a crowd of girls loudly implored Kelley to take his shirt off, sending the trio into hysterics. While Kelley regained his composure and sent his powerful vocals back over the track, Scott could barely keep a straight face.
Once they returned to the main stage, Kelley told the audience that they’d be “taking it up a notch,” before launching into a triple-punch of the hits “Love Don’t Live Here,” “Downtown” and “Lookin’ for a Good Time.” During this, Kelly grabbed a Go-Pro camera for some truly awesome (and slightly nauseating) concert cinematography. They briefly stopped to introduce their back band before inviting opening acts Joe Nichols and Billy Currington back to the stage for an incredible cover of Travis Tritt’s “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive.” It was a great day indeed as they launched straight into a confetti-filled “We Owned the Night,” which indeed they did.
Lady A returned to the stage to raucous applause to sing their breakout booty-call ballad, “Need You Now,” before concluding the show with an impressive country-tinged medley of Aviici’s hit “Wake Me Up” and “Cups (When I’m Gone),” made famous by Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect.
Prior to Lady Antebellum hitting the stage, both Joe Nichols and Billy Currington put on incredible, hit-filled and interactive sets. Nichols launched himself into the crowd during “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” stopping to take selfies and sing along with fans. He commanded the crowd as they filled into the arena during his eight song set, with hits like “Brokenheartsville,” “Sunny & 75” and his current #1 “Yeah.” He also took on an admittedly absurd cover of “Baby Got Back” that he said was the closest he could possibly come to being a rapping country guy.
Dressed in a dark gray T-shirt, mint green shorts and a backwards baseball cap, Currington looked as if he had strolled from the beach to the stage, admitting he had run 20 miles along the beautiful sand earlier that day. His set was jam-packed with hits, including “We Are Tonight” and the overwhelming crowd favorites, “Good Directions” and “People are Crazy.” He also dazzled and baffled the New York crowd with his set of covers that went from the Garth Brook’s classic, “Friends in Low Places” to “Treasure” by Bruno Mars to Robin Thicke’s now infamous “Blurred Lines.” In case you were wondering, there was no sign or Miley Cyrus or twerking.
With Nichols’ charisma, Currington’s laid back attitude and Lady Antebellum’s chemistry and harmonies, the “Take Me Downtown” Tour is a stellar night of music that you’d be silly to miss out on if it rolls through your city. Grab tickets now and you’re in for some incredible cover songs, genuine talent and a jam-packed four hours of some of your favorite country hits.
Follow me on Twitter @NicolePiering
For a complete #CMchat schedule, check out our calendar here: cmchatlive.com/calendar
Interested in being a #CMchat sponsor? Find out how you can sponsor a #CMchat feature or advertise with #CMchat here!