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Concert Reviews:
A loose Lady Antebellum lights up Freedom Hill

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013

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STERLING HEIGHTS -- Lady Antebellum's show on Thursday night, June 13, at Freedom Hill Ampitheatre was, shall we say, pregnant with possibilities.

It was, after all, the first of three final shows for the Nashville trio before it takes a break to allow Hillary Scott to give birth to her first child (a girl). That -- combined with the open-air setting and Freedom Hill's intimate, in-your-face ambience -- brought a kind of spirited looseness to the 19-song, 90-minute show that was decidedly different from the group's, polished, high-tech presentation in February of 2012 at the Palace.

So while Lady Antebellum was certainly conscious of promoting its fourth album, "Golden," which came out last month, the troupe seemed just as invested as having the best time possible before its upcoming enforced leave.

"I'm really pregnant," Scott -- who still gamely roamed the stage in high-heels even though she looked like she could well deliver on the spot -- told the sold-out Freedom Hill crowd. "This is not a beer gut." And Charles Kelley milked a bit of fan favor when he said that even though Lady A had to cancel a number of summer shows, "We said, 'Can we make sure we get to Michigan?' "

The group's uptempo attitude was evident, musically, from the get-go, as the trio emerged on a raised center-stage platform and started the night with "Golden's" first single, "Downtown." Songs such as "Our Kind of Love," "Dancin' Away With My Heart," "Perfect Day" (accompanied by video footage of Lady A achievements), Will Hoge's "Better Off (Now That You're Gone)" and "Love Don't Live Here" maintained the show's rocking edge, and even a quiet moment like "Golden's" title track elevated when it morphed into Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," which Lady A performed with Stevie Nicks on an upcoming episode of CMT's "Crossroads."

a rendition of Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" didn't quite work, but encore snippets of Lady A collaborations with Luke Bryan ("Do I") and Sara Evans ("A Little Bit Stronger") were nice inclusions. "Need You Now" was its usual triumph, and the trio finished with an energetic one-two punch of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" and its anthemic "We Owned the Night." Those nights will be more scarce for awhile, but Lady A certainly left enough good feeling to sustain its upcoming absence.

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