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Live Review: Lady Antebellum – Wednesday 11th August 2010 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK

5 min read

With crossover country having become increasingly popular over the past ten years with the likes of multi-million selling superstars including Faith Hill, Taylor Swift and the leader of the surge, Shania Twain, all adapting to the cycle of change and evolving into some of musics most influential and lucrative exports, Nashville’s Lady Antebellum has emerged as one of the genres next big acts.

With two albums under their belts – their 2008 self titled debut and the 2010 smash, Need You Now – the trio have been setting the country music world on fire with their infectious take on contemporary, pop laced country gems.

In three years Lady Antebellum have been going strong and in the short time that the threesome have been recording together they have picked up a collection of accolades along the way including several Academy of Country Music Awards and a Grammy to don their mantles. The band have also found time to deliver three Number 1 singles in the form of I Run To You, Need You Now and American Honey and have sold in excess of 2 million records.

Over in the UK to promote their latest record Need You Now, Lady Antebellum, which is made up of Charles Kelley (lead and backing vocals), Hillary Scott (lead and backing vocals) and Dave Haywood (backing vocals, piano, guitar and mandolin) have cast their line into UK shores and hooked West London’s Shepherds Bush Empire as residence to the their debut UK performance where a sold out crowd awaited almost bursting at the door hinges to hear the cool country pop swoonings of musics next icons.

After a warm up from pop newbie Rachel Furner, the three members of Lady Antebellum came out to a screaming venue of merchandise covered ladies and cowboy hat donning fellas and opened their 90 minute set with the impeccable Stars Tonight. Almost instantly the band were accepted by the crowd as a truly welcomed act and the crowd couldn’t get enough of them.

Love Don’t Live Here followed and this one absolutely brought the house down as did the following Perfect Day. Both were delivered perfectly by the band who showed constant affection to the screaming crowd. They often walked along the barrier of the stalls shaking the hands of the excited punters in the first couple of rows. They were clearly humbled by the reception they received and mentioned on several occasions throughout the set that the performance tonight was the highlight of their trip to Europe. At one point Charles admitted to being surprised at the reception that London has given Lady Antebellum and was shocked to find out that tonight’s debut performance was sold out. A good reception indeed considering the tickets for the gig only went on sale three weeks prior to the event.

Further through the set, All We’d Ever Need, the first song the band had written together, was stripped back with the backing band leaving the stage to Hillary, Charles and Dave to perform acoustically and delicately one of the bands signature ballads.

Among the set of self penned tracks the band threw in some classic covers including the iconic Tom Petty number, Free Fallin’, which got the crowd in full on singalong mode, the concert closer and UK’s Beatles favorite, Hey Jude, and a remarkable cover of Radiohead’s High and Dry which Charles humorously admitted was a ‘shameless attempt to befriend everybody’ while performing for the BBC during the weeks promotional activities.

The bands big numbers – American Honey, I Run To You and Need You Now were all delivered with sincerity and an emotional deliverance that made everyone fall head over heels in love with the smooth vocal pairing of Hillary and Charles. Need You Now was easily the highlight of the evening with the entire venue singing passionately along while the two singers gazed into each others eyes and let their hearts melt into their performance. A moving single for the band, everyone in the audience including myself looked like they felt connected to the song while thinking of that special someone.

With a tight band of musicians hailing from Nashville, LA and Texas, Lady Antebellum could do no wrong with their performance tonight. Both Hillary and Charles’ vocals were as crisp and raw as their records portray them and at times they sounded even better than the recorded versions of the songs performed in tonight’s set.

Not only did the members of Lady Antebellum deliver to their London fans a spectacular performance of crossover country gold nuggets but they also showed to everyone just how personable and down to earth each of them was with the interaction that they had with the crowd and each other. Whether it be shaking the hands of the swimming crowd below, Hillary shedding tears of appreciation backstage between songs or the smiles that were fixed from ear to ear by all of the band throughout the entire set, these guys are the real mccoy.

With Hillary reassuring that tonight’s gig was to be the first of many to come, we cant wait till we get our next hit of Lady Antebellum.
Set list:

Stars Tonight
Love Don’t Live Here
Perfect Day
When You Got A Good Thing
All We’d Ever Need
High And Dry (Radiohead cover)
American Honey
Slow Down Sister
Our Kinda Love
Hello World
Need You Now
Looking For A Good Time
Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)
I Run To You
Hey Jude (Beatles cover)