It has been a decade since Lady Antebellum released their debut single in 2007—10 years marked by sold-out tours and massive hits, each infused with the trio’s signature vocal blend.
The trio stacked the deck for a hometown concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Saturday evening (9/9), to end the U.S. leg of their You Look Good World Tour. The trio rolled out hit after hit, and brought two of country music’s hottest newcomers with them.
Opener Brett Young, which Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley called “the next big superstar in country music,” got a surprise in the middle of his set from Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta and Matthew Hargis, as well as producer Dann Huff, when they presented Young with a gold certification for his self-titled debut album. The new sales milestone joins the double-platinum status attained by his single “In Case You Didn’t Know” as well as platinum status for his debut single “Sleep Without You.”
Young displayed an understated charm during his brief set, wrapping his soulful voice around songs including his latest single “Like I Loved You,” and taking time to shake hands with fans surrounding the stage. On the strength of his ballad “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Young requested the audience to light up the Bridgestone Arena with their cell phones, and the crowd eagerly obliged, turning the tune into a massive singalong.
“Thank you for loving country music and buying country music,” said Young.
Kelsea Ballerini was all energy and heart, polish and poise as she took the stage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, approximately three hours from Ballerini’s hometown of Knoxville.
The newly-engaged singer-songwriter will release Unapologetically, her sophomore album for Black River Entertainment, on Nov. 3, and she offered the Nashville crowd several songs from the project, including her latest single “Legends,” which included backing vocals from co-writers Hillary Lindsey and Forest Glen Whitehead, as well as the catchy and clever “I Hate Love Songs” and the autobiographical and bold “Unapologetically.”
“I can’t tell you how many shows I have seen in this arena,” she told the crowd. “It’s always my favorite part of the show when the artist sings songs everyone knows and a giant arena feels like a living room.” She then offered a cover of The Chainsmokers’ pop hit “Closer.”
At once relatable and enchanting, Ballerini’s set read like a journal, bringing fans along for the ride that has taken her from bright-eyed newcomer to seasoned entertainer and vocalist in a startling short amount of time.
Her newer tracks deftly blended with those from her debut album, including her triple package of No. 1 hits “Dibs,” “Love Me Like You Mean It,” and “Peter Pan,” as well as the driving fan-favorites “XO” and “Stilettos.”
For Lady Antebellum, the evening was a celebration of their journey thus far, from their first forays on country radio including “Love Don’t Live Here” and “I Run To You,” to the pop crossover and career rocketship that was “Need You Now,” and the lengthy list of radio hits that have propelled the trio’s career.
The usual backing band of guitars, drums and keys got a boost with the addition of trumpet and trombone players, who offered a prelude to the show’s opening numbers including the flirtatious “Downtown” and “Our Kind of Love.” The trio alerted the audience that the tour’s Nashville show was being filmed, and a Dance Cam scoured the crowd for the most energetic participants. The all-ages crowd came joyous and ready to party.
The trio’s most recent album Capitol Records Nashville album Heart Break had its featured moments, including a rendition of the title track and “This City,” as a Welcome To Nashville sign was emblazoned on the screen behind them. The signature horn lines from “You Look Good” were further bolstered by a performance from students from Nashville School of the Arts.
Though the evening flowed from hit to hit, one of the highlights was also one of concert’s quieter moments, as the trio took center stage, with Dave Haywood on piano. The trio touched on their recent break, and subsequent reuniting for the Heart Break album. During the break, Hillary Scott teamed with her family for the gospel album Love Remains, which produced the Grammy-winning single “Thy Will,” which she performed that evening with her Lady A cohorts on backing vocals. Charles Kelley offered the touching “Leaving Nashville,” which was included on his solo album The Driver.
“If you have a dream, you are willing to sacrifice everything for it,” Kelley said. “There are so many times you doubt yourself. This town represents blood, sweat and tears,” he added, before his soul-stirring rendition of “Leaving Nashville.”
Haywood’s eyes became misty during the track, and after the song, he and longtime friend, bandmate and fellow Georgia native Kelley shared a hug onstage as Scott wiped her eyes.
“I’m so honored that you called me to come to Nashville with you,” Haywood said.
“This is what we came to Nashville for,” Kelley said, taking in the capacity crowd that gathered for the arena show.
The party was far from over, with more hits still to come, including “Lookin’ For A Good Time” and “Bartender.”
Ballerini and Young, which Kelley would jokingly refer to as “Barbie and Ken,” also made appearances later in Lady A’s set, as Young collaborated with Kelley on Tim McGraw’s 1999 track “Something Like That.”
It was the ladies who brought one of the most daring highlights of the evening, as Scott and Ballerini strutted to center stage, wearing matching denim jackets, to offer a spot-on rendition of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.”
Lady Antebellum closed the show with their signature “Need You Now,” as the packed arena glowed with cell phone lights and the trio allowed the audience sing the words back to them, returning for a moment the overflow of song and soul the trio had offered over the course of their nearly two-hour set.
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