This year alone, there've been plenty of enjoyable concerts, from Jimmy Buffet to Jay Z to Billy Joel. And though there's no denying the power of heavy-hitters like those three, we experienced something special this past Friday night at Hard Rock Live with Lady Antebellum.
The trio tightly packed high energy, humility, and humor into a show that was less than two hours long. On a personal level, we certainly harbor some nostalgia for the band's earlier tunes that we've listened to from the start, but from the moment they kicked off with "Compass" off their new album Golden, we swooned.
The music was heartwarming, all of it, probably due to a genuine sense of modesty exhibited by the members despite their fame. But also, because of some clever sonic moves. The band remixed "Our Kind of Love" with Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," and, of course, that got the place really moving.
Graphics behind the act showed a lava like substance with burning roses that set the stage (literally) for "Just a Kiss." The multitalented Dave Haywood played piano while lead singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley sang. The chemistry between the two lead singers was so steamy that if we didn't know any better, we would assume they were going for more than just a kiss with each other.
Hillary, looking clean and classic with a white jacket over an all black outfit, kicked off "Perfect Day" with impeccable vocals. The backdrop exhibited a collage of the trio playing together and touring which made us want to hang out with the three after the show.
Charles got his time to shine in a personal favorite "Love Don't Live Here." His energy was through the roof as he walked down the aisle and interacted with audience, even taking a selfie with one fan. We controlled our every impulse to climb over chairs to lay our hands on him.
Hillary got a special request for "American Honey," saying, "Let's just have the girls sing." The stage turned honey-colored and the screen showed home photos of the band. Like all good personal pics, they were embarrassingly endearing.
Hillary had another request as she asked audience members to take out lighters or phone when launching into the tearjerker "It Ain't Pretty." As we tunelessly sang along, we felt like Hillary wrote that song about our own heartbreak.
After finishing their first number one single, "I Run to You," the trio moved down to a smaller stage to perform for those in the nosebleed seats. Without hesitation, Charles took a sip from a fan's Solo cup. "Damn girl -- got yourself a little something in there!"
He then talked about how he and Dave shared a passion to write songs and tour before meeting Hillary and creating Lady Antebellum. "We want to sing these songs how we wrote them," said Charles before they all did an acoustic version of "Goodbye Town." The band asked an eager concert-goer with a sign if she had any songs she wanted to hear. Her sign read the song title "One Day You Will" and underneath "Got Me Through Cancer." The band was very appreciative but apologized profusely when they said they haven't played it in a while. "Hello World" was played instead, but the sign-holding fan seemed pleased nonetheless.
The three then traveled back to the main stage and sung a rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." Unlike most covers, Lady A's version of this classic brought chills. We double-checked to make sure it wasn't Stevie Nicks onstage.
The highlight of the night was the spunky "Looking for a Good Time." This particular single was extended as the other musicians were introduced. "He's a little shy, so everyone look at him," teased Charles as he introduced the bassist, who smiled coyly. Charles was on a roll as he presented the others onstage. His next "victim" was the keyboard player who Charles joked was kicked out of Duck Dynasty because his beard was too short.
"Do you guys want to see him play a piano solo or dance?" After chants from the audience encouraging him to dance, the keyboard player dropped low and shook side to side to a rendition of Ginuwine's "Pony" with Charles singing the first two lines. "Come on, why won't you let me sing?" the playful lead vocalist joked when music was cut. Hillary provided a cute moment when she introduced the drummer as both her husband and the father of her "little girl."
The last song of the set was "We Owned the Night" with clear harmonizing and graphics showing the lyrics in golden letters on screen. After the song, Lady A said their goodbyes, shaking us out of our trance.
But wait -- what happened to their most popular anthem? Had they forgotten their biggest hit? Suddenly, various clips of unknown YouTube musicians and stars like Adele all singing "Need You Now" were projected largely. And with that, ladies and gents, the encore kicked off, but not without Hillary saying, "We want to hear you sing, Hollywood." Tone deaf voices erupted joyfully.
The energy of the show then changed from bittersweet to energetic as a rendition of Avicii's "Wake Me Up" played. Charles encouraged everyone to jump. The last song of the evening was a cover of "Cups (Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone)." After more goodbyes and an autograph for a lucky fan, Lady Antebellum finally departed for the night.
Perhaps it was the endless humor and energy exhibited by Charles, or the talent displayed by Dave on every instrument he touched, or maybe it was Hillary's strong vocals and class, but the show was totally refreshing and the band was genuine. Unlike some big egos that can barely squeeze into the largest South Florida arenas, we couldn't ever picture Hillary throwing a fit over not getting sparkling water, and that's a good thing.
"Better Off Now (That You're Gone)"
"Our Kind of Love" (partial cover of "Get Lucky")
"Get to Me"
"Just a Kiss"
"Love Don't Live Here"
"It Ain't Pretty"
"I Run to You"
"Dancin' Away with My Heart"
"Wanted You More"
"Rhiannon" (Fleetwood Mac cover)
"Lookin' for a Good Time"
"We Owned the Night"
"Need You Now"
"Wake Me Up" (Avicii cover)
"Cups (Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone)"