Lady Antebellum - Birmingham Arena, Birmingham
It’s that time of year, when the big US summer tours are over and Nashville’s finest make their ways to UK shores. In the last week or so Little Big Town, Kip Moore, Randy Hauser, and a host of others have been touring the British Isles and appearing at County Music Week in London. The biggest band on these shores right now are Lady Antebellum, and that’s shown by them playing arenas, culminating in the O2 in London. We caught the band on their Birmingham stop (that’s "Birminam" not "Birmingham").
Mimicking the big US tours country acts go on Lady A had their show opened by two of the brightest new acts in Nashville. Brett Young kicked things off before Kelsea Ballerini owned the Birmingham Arena as if she were the headliner. It’s not clear whether she knew quite how impressive a feat it was to get the Monday night crowd copying her movements in ‘XO’ without much encouragement. The Tennessee singers winning smile and sparky personality set the evening up in true country-pop style.
Ballerini’s brilliance meant that Lady Antebellum had a show to put on, but that’s no problem to such a sharp and tight band as the trio are. Adding a horn section to their sound upped the pop-rock aspect but then Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood have always leaned to the less traditional arm of country. And really who cares how country they are, the trio put on a fantastic show, melding the best of their new album, catchy refrains of ‘This City’, the harmonies of ‘Heart Break’, and the tender bitterness of ‘Hurts’, which brings a tear to Scott’s eye, with their stone cold classis like ‘Bartender’, ‘Run To You’, and their killer track ‘Need You Now’, and a brilliantly staged cover of Shania Tawin’s ‘You’re Still The One’ with Young and Ballerini.
The overwhelming feeling at the end of the show is that this has been one of the best nights of mainstream Nashville music that the UK’s seen, and it means next years Country To Country festival has something big to live up to.