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Live Review: Lady Antebellum – Friday 7th October 2011 – Union Chapel, London, UK

5 min read

American country-pop sweethearts Lady Antebellum have been riding high on the waves of international success over the past 12 months and seem to be showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact it seems to be quite the opposite having already scored themselves in excess of five million record sales, five number one singles and three number one albums as well as garnishing themselves with six Grammy Awards and six Academy of Country Music Awards among many others.

The band which consists of Charles Kelly, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood hail from Nashville, Tennessee and have so far released three outstanding and award winning records, all of which have quickly cemented the trios well developed, country twang into the A- list league of superstars in their homeland and beyond.

It was however last years phenomenal number one album Need You Now and it’s syrupy title track that gave the band their major international breakthrough and the threesome have been lapping up the worlds adoration ever since. Hits like Need You Now, American Honey, Hello World and Our Kind Of Love as well as Run To You, Lookin’ For A Good Time and their debut Top 3 smash Love Don’t Live Here from the bands first self titled record have given fans an ongoing guarantee of a fantastic live experience.

I first caught Lady Antebellum on August 11th last year when they took to West London’s Shepherds Bush Empire for their debut UK performance and when we heard that the band, who have just this week released album number three Own The Night, were to play a very intimate unplugged gig within the gorgeous settings of North London’s Union Chapel, all fingers were at the ready when tickets were released to secure a place in front of one of country music’s most elite.

The venue was packed to the brim when I arrived at just shy of 19.30pm though that was no reason to feel glum. The great thing about Union Chapel, a venue that I regard as a personal favorite, is that no matter where you find space to view a gig you won’t be disappointed with either sound or view making it the perfect venue to see your favorite band and a real treat given the current position of Lady Antebellum who could just as easily have sold out the O2 Arena.

The six time Grammy Award winning band were set to be on stage at 20.00pm and that they were. Making their way on stage to a rapturous applause the trio dove straight into a 14 song set of their already extensive catalogue of hits beginning with the bands latest single and the new records opening track, We Owned The Night, followed by one of the trios biggest numbers, I Run To You, which gained the Nashville threesome an applause unheard of in my experience within the walls of the usually laid back confines of the chapel.

Drenched in vulnerability and complete with some truly gorgeous harmonies the vocals were shared perfectly between Charles and Hillary on Dancin’ Away With My Heart before Hillary took the lead vocal reins on American Honey as we were offered a stripped back version of the bands third number one hit. The singer, who was dressed in a leather jacket and fierce leather tights, encouraged the crowd to sing along as she set the unplugged mood for the night. That mood carried through the following Cold As Stone with its beautifully arranged melodies and sentimental lyrics and the Charles Kelly led Hello World which cast guitarist Dave Haywood over to show off his skills behind the piano for one of the bands most recent hits.

Throughout the set we were offered a band that can really perform and deliver a fantastic show. The vocals were tight and coated with harmonies and the trio were on top form with humor as they told several anecdotes and made a number of comments to the crowds more enthusiastic fans who shouted out compliments and adoration to their musical heroes. We also got to see the heartfelt side of the band with Charles Kelly paying numerous compliments to his right hand lady after her performance of As You Turn Away, a song describing the final moments of a failed relationship and a song he described as his favorite Scott led number. It also came hand in hand with a prior description of the number in humorous fashion as Scott described the track as being “a 1.30 min window of time that we turned into a three minute song” before Kelly declared, “we like to extend the pain”, giving the band a huge applause.

The tempo was then changed to give the crowd a more upbeat closing of the set with some of the bands earlier tracks including Love Don’t Live Here and the racy Lookin’ For A Good Time which got the audience on their feet and dancing along to the band as well as Our Kind Of Love which proved to be one of the crowds favorites in the set before we were offered the trios current number one hit Just A Kiss. Acoustically beautiful and lyrically charming the track was the perfect closure to the set.

After a five minute exit from the stage the trio, who were accompanied by a four piece backing band which included Scott’s fiance Chris Tyrell on drums, returned to offer a two song encore which began with a cover of The Beatles number Blackbird and ended with their monster breakthrough hit, Need You Now.

Tonight the band did not fail us and the trio also promised a return to the UK in 2011 after a tour in their homeland giving their UK fans something to look forward to in the new year.

From start to end we were offered a delicacy of sweet pop tinged country gems delivered with perfected musicianship and astounding talent. Vocally strong and musically vibrant Lady Antebellum proved that they have the right ingredients to live a long and fruitful life in the international spotlight for many years to come.

Setlist:

We Owned The Night
I Run To You
Dancin’ Away With My Heart
American Honey
Cold As Stones
Hello World
Singing Me Home
As You Turn Away
Love Don’t Live Here
Our Kind Of Love
Lookin For A Good Time
Just A Kiss
Blackbird
Need You Now