I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed the Lady Antebellum concert at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. In reality, anyone who knows me, knows I’m a rock / metal gal. Not to say I can’t appreciate any other genre of music, however country music just doesn’t do it for me generally speaking. When I think of country, I think of the music my parents listened to back in the 70s and 80s, with the twangy steel guitar and the cliche lyrics about lost love and crying in their beer. But the reality is the genre has changed a lot as I have started to discover. I was asked to cover this particular show and I figured why not? I had heard of the name Lady Antebellum, and in all honesty I thought it was simply a single female singer. I attended this concert with an open mind, however I also kind of thought, meh… it permits me to do what I love the most, which is photographing concerts.
The evening started with a young lad by the name of Russell Dickerson. He performed a little over a half hour set and much to my surprise I didn’t hate it. He was full of energy and the genre of music to me sounded like a cross between country and hip hop. He was engaging and interesting to watch. I walked away thinking wow, that’s not the country music I knew and learned to dislike. It was a great start to what would be an incredible evening.
Darius Rucker was next. As he made it to the stage the crowd went wild, cheering him on with great enthusiasm. Unbeknownst to me I didn’t realize he was the face of the ever popular 80s band Hootie & the Blowfish. I knew his voice sounded familiar but just didn’t put two and two together, that is until he performed the song Let her Cry. I mentioned to someone oh he’s doing a cover song? And they looked at me puzzled and said don’t you know who Darius is? Shaking my head in complete ignorance I replied no. They laughed and enlightened me.
Darius performed an hour long set. His voice really lent itself well to the genre. He performed a series of songs from his solo work as well as a couple from the Hootie & the Blowfish Days. He complimented the show well.
It was now time for the headliners, as the band hit the stage, the crowd welcomed Lady Antebellum with a huge roar. This grammy award winning trio thanked Toronto and said that’s why they chose this great city to kick off their Summer Plays On tour.
Observing this fine show, I was surprised by how fast the evening went by. I was enthralled in this “new to me” band. Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley vocals really complimented each other. Their energy on stage was such that it looked like they were really enjoying themselves. It was a fresh look of wonderment with them, not one of those bands that are on their 50th show and just want to get through it. They possessed huge smiles and singer Hillary Scott at one point looked slightly overwhelmed by the love that emerged from the audience towards them. It was really endearing to see.
Their set was 17 songs long, with the easily recognizable songs Need You Now and Just a Kiss. Looking through the crowd, people where singing every single word to every song, but these two songs lifted the decibel volume up a few notches. They also included a few cover songs of Diamond Rio with Compass / Meet in the Middle, Keith Urban Raining on Sunday and a special performance of Hootie & the Blowfish with Darius Rucker joining them on stage for the Encore.
Darius remained on stage for the rest of the Encore but also welcomed Russell Dickerson for the songs Strawberry Wine ( Deana Carter cover ) and Love Don’t Live Here.
During the song Downtown, the 3 stars shared the glory with their back up band, introducing them one by one, letting them display their talents with a short solo. It was nice to see the acknowledgment given to the hired guns.
I have to take a moment and comment about the one moment that gave me goose bumps. Songstress Hillary Scott had me enthralled with her intense emotion while performing the song Need You Now. You could hear and literally feel the heartbreak in her voice. It was a very powerful moment. Once the song ended, it was as if she picked herself up again and dawned that beautiful smile of hers. The emotion was one that I don’t think I have seen in quite some time at a concert.
Although they are hugely popular, the down to earth, humble nature that they portrayed made them extremely likable.
So far for this summer season concert line up, I would award this performance Best Unexpected Show of the season. A must see, even if you are not a country music fan, you will definitely appreciate this band for their talent and musicianship.