What’s their secret? The big reveal came when Haywood, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley immediately hit upon their bold, hoedown-having aesthetic. Setting the tremblingly epic tenor of the night, they opened with the brashly strumming, tom-tom-thumping “We Owned the Night,” the mandolin-fueled hiccup of “Perfect Day,” and the honky-tonking, nearly naughty (they work clean, nothing risqué here) “Lookin’ for a Good Time.”
There’s little subtlety with Lady Antebellum. The group’s harmonies soared, especially during the simmering “I Run to You.” Their arrangements were Technicolor, and their hooks, when apparent (not always, which created a lull in the set), were widescreen. Scott had a tangy voice. Kelley did a literal Michael Bolton impression.
When Scott took the bulk of the duet leads, Antebellum came across like the Eagles at their early ’70s haughtiest as fronted by Reba McEntire. Scott sounded like a catty angel with a lariat through the kicking “Love Don’t Live Here” and the sassy “Love Looks Good on You.” Kelley was a hot dog, with a clean, yet almost innocuous lead voice. Still, his backgrounds and harmonies were flawless, especially during a mostly acoustic set where the stripped-down band showed off Lady A’s one moment of illusiveness during the lustrous, churning “American Honey.” That most quintessential country number found them opening the floor to their opening acts, who joined the hit-making trio on jazzily breezy covers from the Allman Brothers (“Midnight Rider” with Thompson Square) and the Doobie Brothers (“Old Black Water” with Darius Rucker).
Impressive stuff, that.