It turns out an extra month wasn’t too long to wait for Lady Antebellum fans.
The Grammy-winning country group canceled its July 15 show at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre when Hillary Scott’s grandmother died, and fans had the option of using those tickets at Wednesday night’s rescheduled show or turning them in for a refund.
For those who gave up their tickets for refunds, there were plenty of others willing to grab their seats. By 7 Wednesday night, there were only 40 tickets remaining, and those seats were quickly gobbled up by the time Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood took the stage before a sold-out crowd of 5,200 adoring fans.
LADY ANTEBELLUM SET LIST
1. “Our Kind of Love”
2. “Stars Tonight”
3. “American Honey”
4. “When You Got a Good Thing”
5. “Long Gone”
6. “We Owned the Night”
7. “Hello Word”
9. “Dancin’ Away with My Heart”
10. “Perfect Day”
11. “Love Don’t Live Here”
12. “Run to You”
13. “Lookin’ for a Good Time”
14. “Need You Now”
15. “Just a Kiss”
16. “Sweet Emotion”
After opening with No. 1 single “Our Kind of Love” and “Stars Tonight,” an unreleased cut off Lady A’s current album, an emotional Scott addressed the crowd.
“I’d personally like to thank each and every one of you for being understanding about us rescheduling the show. We had to reschedule because I lost my grandma, but I have to say she’s given us a beautiful night,” Scott said, motioning toward the star-lit sky as the crowd roared its support.
Since debuting in 2007, it’s been evident why the group has been successful - they’ve got great chemistry. But even better, the group has polished its act in the last four years, and Wednesday night they took every chance they could to get the crowd involved.
There were plenty of sing-alongs, and at one point Kelley even turned the mic toward the crowd and let it sing along to “We Owned the Night.” It’s not too bad when you can get 5,000 people to sing the words to a song that hasn’t even been released on a record yet. And Kelley seemed to appreciate it, breaking into a wide grin as the fans sang the words back to him.
Something else that works about Lady A is that it’s a true group. Just about every duo or group in country music - or any genre for that matter - is dominated by one personality, but not in Lady A. Scott took the lead vocals on “American Honey,” a song she dedicated to her grandmother, then traded them right back to Kelley on “When You Got a Good Thing.” Back and forth they went all night, with Haywood carrying the melody on acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, and at one point even a bazuka, which is a seven-string Russian acoustic guitar.
Lady Antebellum has had great success with power ballads, but the show got a little sleepy when “Hello World,” “Stronger,” and “Dancin’ Away with My Heart” were stacked together, but to their credit, Lady A picked things up with the three big hits off their self-titled debut album. “Love Don’t Live Here,” “Run to You,” and “Lookin’ for a Good Time” got the crowd dancing and set them up for the one song that everyone in the crowd wanted to hear.
As the final notes to “Lookin’ for a Good Time” faded away, the stage was blanketed in darkness, then Haywood was bathed in a spotlight as he sat at his piano and struck the opening chords of “Need You Now” as the crowd thundered in anticipation.
Scott took one side of the stage, Kelley the other, then they came together in the center as they belted out the anguished lyrics of the megahit that not only was a No. 1 on country radio but also on adult contemporary.
Lady Antebellum did lots of things right Wednesday night, but they got this song right more than any other because they played it the way the fans wanted to hear it played. Kelley, Scott, and Haywood have joked in interviews that they hear “Need You Now” in their sleep because they play it so often, but they stayed true to the original arrangement. It’s baffling when stars change the arrangement to their biggest hits in concert. Maybe they get bored playing the same song the same way night after night, but it was a hit for a reason - people like it that way. And the fans Wednesday night showed their appreciation with a long, standing ovation after “Need You” Now” melted away.
Was Wednesday night perfect? No. At times the vocals got drowned out by the instruments, especially on the opening numbers. And there was way too much down time after Craig Campbell completed his 10-song, 45-minute set. It was Campbell’s job to warm up the crowd, and he did it surprisingly well given that he’s a relative newcomer as a solo artist. But there were 55 minutes between his set and Lady A, and the country crowd was forced to listen to a DJ blast Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, and Jet.
But that was forgotten by the end of Lady A’s 90-minute set. For Toledoans, it was worth the wait.
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