Hello. I’m back. Not that anyone cares. Theatre school has bombarded me with awesome projects such as a study of Oscar Wilde and a final acting project based on the work of Bertolt Brecht so I am writing this review over two weeks late. Better late than never. At least that’s what I’m told. Okay on with the show.
I never thought I would find myself at a country music concert, but I suppose I went to try and expand my musical horizons. Lady Antebellum was a good gateway drug, as they are a country band, with some rock and roots undertones. And what a rockin show it was. It started off with a bang as Hilary Scott & co entered on a raised platform in the middle of the audience. Very MTV music Awards. I look down for a few seconds and next thing I know they’re on the main stage! It all happened so fast.
While the lyrics may not divine, life changing or witty, I did appreciate the catchiness of many songs and loved that they were playing with style and form a little bit. There were good ol’ fashioned country tunes, rock songs, power ballads, slow lamentable ballads, giddy-up-and-dance songs, and even one – “American Honey” – that was gospel-esque and bordered on hero worship (still not sure how I feel about that, although I’ll admit it was a beautiful tune).
Speaking of hero worship, some fans seemed to completely lose their shit when either Charles or Hillary touched their hands. (Again, very MTV). Does that moment, which lasts all of three seconds, have a profound impact on your life? Granted, it may have you riding the show, and maybe even into the next day or week, but what about thirty years from now? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not mocking or criticizing these super fans, but it makes me wonder about the culture of celebrity worship, and specifically worship of those in the entertainment business. What brings it about? Admittedly, if I could go back in time to the 60s and 70s I’d probably shake the hands of John Lennon and Jim Morrison, but probably for what they stood for rather than just for their music. Anywho, that’s enough of that tangent.
In addition to their wicked vocals, LA also played with visuals a lot. Early on, they had lyrics on the video screen so country noobs like me could sing along. Later in the evening, during “Just a Kiss” the backdrop resembled the mockingjay from The Hunger Games. The band also got up close and personal as Charles took a mini cam and filmed himself running from the raised platform through the audience to the mainstage. It was a nice touch, I’ll admit.
The one thing blatantly obvious about Lady Antebellum besides their talent, is their passion for music and the love of their fans. Hillary’s presence alone is enough to see that. She has a smile and a lot of pizzazz. (Squirrel side bar, is pizzazz the only word in the English language with four ‘z’s? – Zzyzyx and Zyzzyva – the official last word – have three)
I would like to amend my earlier statement about LA being country infused with rock and roots. I should have also included rap. About three-quarters of the way through the night, Hillary started rapping “Ice Ice Baby”. The audience roared. Speaking of the audience, while there still a number of cowgirls and cowboys, and white hats and leather boots, the crowd at the PNE Coliseum was slightly more heterogeneous that I would have anticipated; I suppose it’s the band’s crossover appeal. In a good, non-Taylor Swift way.
In addition to passion and Amurricah, LA also emphasized family. Touring drummer Chris Tyrell also happens to be Hillary’s hubby and their daughter Eisele (pronounced eyes-lee), born in July 2013, was referred to as tour mascot. Also their accordion player looked like a member of Duck Dynasty. However, there number one family is America. And I suspect Jesus is somewhere in there as well. Though to their credit, there were no songs overtly about God. ‘American Honey’ was probably the closest they came and that was really more about patriotism than anything else. Speaking of which, there was an undertone of patriotism the entire show. While not really affecting the show one way or another, I seem to have a skeptical and slightly cynical view of the faux hyper-patriotism often expressed in the American media landscape.
Even though the show was great, I wish they had a fiddle. Even for just a couple of songs. Granted, I have a slightly borderline/unhealthy obsession with fiddle music, so…. They started big, they finished big and shared smiles, laughter, joy and love. I may still be undecided about country music as a whole, but the artists are some of the most genuine people you will come across.
RIYL: Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Otis Redding, Dixie Chicks, The Jardines
Their fifth album – Golden – was released May 6, 2013. The deluxe version came out in November.