NEW YORK CITY -- Gauging the progress of
In the space of just four short years, they've gone from "showcase" gigs at cozy supper club Joe's Pub to the roughly 3,000-capacity Beacon Theater to the legendary home of the Rockettes, storied show-biz mecca Radio City Music Hall.
Of course, the fuel for this accelerated evolution has been the trio's string of No. 1 albums and singles and their endless accumulation of awards from every conceivable organization. But even though they're headlining huge arenas and amphitheaters during their seemingly never-ending Own the Night tour, they were plainly proud to be launching the latest leg with back-to-back Radio City shows on Thursday and Friday (May 3-4), accompanied by tour cohorts
After Thursday's concert began with a short set by Thompson Square,
Lady Antebellum kicked their set off with a bang via their most recent No. 1 song,
Hillary Scott was the first to voice Lady A's excitement about their Radio City debut, posing a question about how a band knows when they've really made it -- and quickly answering herself by shouting out, "Radio City! We made it!"
During the driving rocker "Love This Pain" -- fueled by Haywood's hard-hitting Telecaster guitar licks -- Kelley took the first step in a physical takeover of the hallowed space that would continue throughout the evening, running out to the stage right balcony during the song's breakdown to sing a snatch of the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
In due course, Kelley was back onstage, shouting, "Let's light this place up like a disco ball," simultaneously foreshadowing the lyrics of the next song and inviting the audience to strike up their cell phone lights. Thus illuminated, Lady Antebellum ended the hard charge of their opening salvo of songs by launching into their latest single, the ballad "Dancing Away With My Heart."
They savored the romantic mood for another moment with "Wanted You More," a heart-on-sleeve duet for Kelley and Scott, before Haywood's chugging mandolin and the band's stomping beat pumped the energy level back up with the sunny country-pop of
No longer content with storming the balconies, Kelley ran out into the orchestra seats, perching himself precariously atop a chair and holding a lady's hand for ballast while singing. Haywood soon followed suit by taking to the balcony himself, wireless guitar in hand, to fire off a few more licks. Returning to the stage afterwards, Kelley called out gratefully to his balance aide, "Thank you for making sure I didn't kill myself, sweetheart."
Kelley reiterated that this show marked the fulfillment of a dream for Lady Antebellum as the trio took a sentimental turn towards the power ballad
Explaining why 2012 has been such a period of flux for Lady Antebellum, Scott told the crowd, "Two-thirds of this band are newlyweds," with Kelley going on to explain the recent pause in the Own the Night tour by adding, "We had to take a break for Dave to get married." Haywood was wed on April 14, while Scott got married to Lady A drummer Chris Tyrrell on Jan. 7.
Scott's husband climbed down from his drum riser for the group's stripped-down, acoustic take on
After their guests had taken their leave, Lady Antebellum worked their way up to the most theatrical moment of the show with Kelley and Scott rushing to balconies on opposite sides of the hall to sing
A long, moody intro preceded the group's encore, and screams of delight erupted from the audience when the piano began to tease the chorus licks of