Lady Antebellum, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London – August 11th
Cowboy hats and whooping were de rigeuer at last night’s Lady Antebellum gig – and that was just for the support act. When the Nashville trio eventually appeared, the audience clapped and hollered like we were in a sticky, beer-covered Tennessee bar and not in West London with the supposedly reserved English. If Lady Antebellum weren’t sure what to expect from a British crowd, they seemed overwhelmed by this sold-out reception and lapped it up, singer Charles Kelly leaping about the stage and guitarist Dave Haywood strumming till his fingers bled…
Lady A are already a fixture in the US country scene and this year picked up a Grammy for I Run To You as well scooping Song, Single and Vocal Group Of The Year at the Amercian Country Music Awards for Need You Now. The latter song is now smeared across our airwaves and whipped the excitable crowd into a frenzy at the Empire, the group doing a reprise so we could all sing the chorus one more time. “It’s a quarter after one, I’m a little drunk…”
This trio have likeability in spades and electric stage presence – even the security staff stopped frowning and embraced the country beat. They also have an admirable stack of crowd-pleasers to choose from, some that fly at breakneck speed and some that intend to massage your heart with their searing sentiment and the meshing of Kelly and co-lead singer Hillary Scott’s vocals. Highlights of the night included a stripped back version of All We’d Ever Need along with American Honey, which saw Kelly and Scott’s vocal chemistry sparkle. Lookin’ For A Good Time, Slow Down Sister and I Run To You got the joint rockin’ as did Our Kind Of Love, and covers of Radiohead’s High And Dry and Tom Petty’s Freefallin’ were unexpected and executed to perfection. When the trio eventually skipped off stage 80 minutes later, they were urged back on and didn’t disappoint, ending the night with a countrified Hey Jude which nearly took the roof off the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
If they were in any doubt how the UK felt about them, I don’t think Lady Antebellum are now – Hillary even had to exit stage left for a quick sob at one point. This was their debut show on UK soil – let’s hope they come back for more.
Lady Antebellum’s album Need You Now is out now. For more: http://ladyantebellum.com/