Lady Antebellum rock the Manchester Arena!
Lady Antebellum are arguably the biggest band in Country music today. Since they began 10 years ago they have released six albums plus a christmas album, three of which are certified platinum in the States. They’ve had 16 singles in the hot Country Charts and 9 of these have made it to number 1. After coming over to the UK for C2C a couple of years ago the group's popularity has continued to grow over here so it was no surprise when they announced they were touring and that it would be an arena tour (which is quite rare for Country acts to play headline shows in Arenas over here). I went along to their show in Manchester and after having a few difficulties actually getting in the arena and staying in I did actually see quite a bit of their set.
The trios set began with their trumpet player and trombonist engaging in a kind of play off, the crowd started to get excited and got to their feet. Then the rest of the band took to the stage as Hillary, Charles and Dave followed and they broke into Downtown one of my favourites off their 2013 record Golden. This was followed by Our Kind of Love another one that’s a few years old now I noticed straight away that vocally they sounded as good as on their records, Hillary especially, her vocals were flawless all night. This City came next and then having had to vacate the arena I returned just in time to catch the end of We Owned The Night, the crowd was loud singing along. Then came one of my favourite songs, I listened to this all the time when I was first getting into Country Music, American Honey was just beautiful and though not one of their most popular songs the majority of the crowd continued to sing.
Back to 2011 and the band played Wanted You More which is actually their lowest charting single only peaking at number 20 on the US Hot Country Charts but it is a really nice ballad and Charles and Hillary played out the lyrics on stage and really conveyed the emotion in the song. I Run To You followed, again this is one of the first songs I listened to whilst falling in love with Country music and the crowd were on their feet dancing and singing along. Due to some technical difficulties they switched around the set slightly they said as the band exited the stage. They talked then about hit songwriter Shane McAnally who co-wrote the next song with them, Somebody Else’s Heart. I really liked the intimacy of this stripped back performance of one of their latest songs. At this point Charles Kelly spoke about recent events in Vegas and went on to say about the events that happened back in May in the very venue we were in. He spoke about being a father and how it changes the way you react to these things and then the three of them sang Hello World which fitted well with the words he’d just spoken and the crowd held lights in the air.
They brought the tempo up slightly to do a cover of the Shania Twain hit Still The One, this pleased the crowd as they swayed, still holding their lights. At this point the band returned and I’m guessing the technical issues with the piano had been resolved as they broke into Just A Kiss. Again Hillary and Charles walked up and down the stage singing out to fans in the tiered seating. This was followed by their most recent single You Look Good (and the title of the tour). This was a high energy performance and Charles took the two brass players down with him into the crowd and walked right through towards the back of the floor seating area. I’m not sure if this was a planned move as Hillary laughed from the stage and shook her head. Their was a long instrumental at the end of this song and the band was introduced. The skill of these players was something else and again it was clear that even though they do this most nights everyone on that stage was invested 100% and looked to be enjoying themselves.
Bartender followed, the number one, platinum hit off their record 747. It was a party from here on out, the crowd loved this song and if it was possible the band seemed to up their game again. Hillary, Charles and Dave all sang flawlessly it was like listening to their record but with all the energy and buzz that comes with a live show. They closed with the first single they ever released Love Don’t Live Here. Of course this wasn’t the end of the set, how could they leave without performing the most downloaded country song in history? Yeah that’s right, they came out for the encore and performed the smash hit from 2009 Need You Now, the crowd erupted at the sound of the famous intro. And when Hillary and Charles quietened the band and held the microphones for the crowd to sing a chorus on their own, it wasn’t the loudest crowd sing-a-long I’d heard but it was the most tuneful! They concluded their show with a touching tribute to the late Tom Petty as they sang Learning To Fly with the same energy and passion as they’d put in to the rest of the set and with the crowd singing with them.