"Oh, you look beautiful tonight Houston!" lead vocalist Charles Kelley exclaimed mid-song.
There's two things that I think make a show extra special. First, good sound and second, audience interaction. And that's what I got Thursday night.
On stage there was a visible intimate understanding between the trio. They even leaned on one another throughout the set and joked around in between songs.
With a packed crowd and roaring fans of all ages, Reliant Stadium was swamped with a frenzy of excitement for the recent Grammy winners and annual rodeo favorites. The lights dimmed and out of a beautiful darkness the trio opened up with fitting number, "We Owned the Night."
I was thinking, "Yeah the guys started out great but there will have to be some glitch in between songs; there's no possible way three harmonious voices could sound impeccable all even evening long." I was proven wrong.
Country music is about heartbreak and intimate and intense, emotional moments that make the genre incomparable. Women can sing their hearts out as a solo artist with obvious thematic songs but when you add a male vocal or two, then there's something special. That's Lady Antebellum. Vocalists Hillary Scott and Charles Kelly and the overlooked man behind the music, Dave Haywood, delivered powerful performances. Their professionalism and personal effect on the audience glued me to my seat.
There's something about a girl-guy dynamic that brings so much more honesty to the songs — fellow budding country duo The Civil Wars are the latest example. With a growing career under their belt and multiple awards, Lady Antebellum sang with appreciation and love. On stage there was a visible intimate understanding between the trio. They even leaned on one another throughout the set and joked around in between songs.
Each song was accompanied with smart arrangements, stellar musicians from their back up band and a relaxed atmosphere. Crowd favorite "Hello World" showed off Haywood's piano skills with an initial stripped-down opening before the track took a sudden turn into a true arena sing-along midway through — with light show included.
The follow-up "American Honey" inspired Scott to reminisce about frequent trips to Tyler, Texas, and fishing with her family. And chart toppers "I Run to You" and "Just a Kiss" had the entire stadium anticipating more.
Closing track and most anticipated song, "Need You Now," made Scott and Kelley's live interpretation a pleasure to watch.
I always thought Lady Antebellum was some sort of a Taylor Swift-inspired band that wanted to cross over to pop radio. That just isn't the case; it just happened. A mainstream audience has completely understood what such a band tries to accomplish, which is success on its own.
From first-rate audio to Kelley jumping off stage to get closer to the audience, I was impressed with the performance. There was a genuine relationship portrayed onstage between the trio that transcends their song lyrics. It's hard to believe that the band only formed a couple of years ago but has already produced three successful albums.
Though the set was short but sweet, I am now a convert and plan to pick up a copy of Own the Night as soon as possible.
Before the group finished up, they said that they were honored to perform at the rodeo once again. Hopefully they'll be back next year.