By: Jessica Baird
As an audience member, a sold-out evening at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville is always a special thing to be a part of. Thursday night’s second of two packed houses for country trio Lady Antebellum surpassed ‘special evening’ and soared into magical, unforgettable territory.
With their families, friends, and devoted fans filling the Ryman’s famous wooden church pews, the significance of the night was not lost on Lady A.
Multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood talked about taking the Ryman backstage tour with his father several years ago and said that his father was in the audience along with other relatives and friends from his hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
The evening was also a family affair for Charles Kelley; his brother Josh was one of two opening acts. After releasing several albums in a more pop, singer-songwriter style in the vein of John Mayer, Josh plans on releasing a country album this year. Given his songwriting skills and bare bones delivery, it is apparent that he will fit in just fine with today’s country style.
After giving her mother, country singer Linda Davis, and other supporters a shout-out, Hillary Scott introduced Randy Montana, the evening’s other opening act. Scott and Montana have been friends since high school and their happiness for one another’s success was evident. Montana’s first single “Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You” will hit country airwaves this month.
Kicking off Lady A’s performance was a taped voice-over introduction from Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Anderson. In it, Anderson said it was less than three years ago that the trio first appeared on the Opry stage.
In this relatively short time, the group has opened up for the likes of Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, logged plenty of frequent flyer miles for appearances on Oprah, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The Late Show with David Letterman, and recently received the most Academy of Country Music award nominations with seven.
Opening their set with “Stars Tonight,” a song complete with an irresistible sing-a-long-chorus, Lady A got the audience on their feet and the energy never waivered both onstage and in the stands.
The crowd’s screams reached a fever pitch when Haywood took to the piano for the opening of their chart-topper “Need You Now.” The ballad was just as powerful live thanks to Scott and Kelley’s vocals.
Other ballads such as “Do I,” (the recent No. 1 for Luke Bryan, co-written by Bryan, Haywood, and Kelley) and “All We’d Ever Need” off Lady A’s debut, were equally moving.
The trio’s upbeat hits like “Lookin’ for a Good Time,” “Slow Down Sister” and “Love Don’t Live Here” also showcased the group’s undeniable chemistry as they traded places on stage and played to the crowd from every angle—all the while sounding pitch perfect.
A moment that could only happen at the Ryman found Lady A taking center stage, crowding around an old-timey microphone, and crooning Hank Williams’s classic “Lost Highway.”
Both opening acts returned for a rollicking rendition of Tom Petty’s hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” that found the packed-house singing along as well.
Ending the evening with “Hello World,” a near-epic ballad off their recently released second album Need You Now, Haywood, Kelley, and Scott were all smiles as they thanked the crowd.
When the house lights were raised, the crowd was all smiles as we walked out of the legendary Ryman doors into a night that had been touched by magic.
(Photo courtesy of Lady Antebellum’s Official Facebook Page)