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Concert Reviews:
Lady Antebellum owns the night at DTE

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Saturday, July 1, 2017

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Noting the undercard of younger acts at the 99.5 WYCD Hoedown on Friday night, June 30, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, as well as his own group's 10th anniversary, Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley told the crowd that "we feel like the old guys now."

The trio's show proved that experience has its benefits, however.

Returning to the road after a short hiatus, Lady A closed the Hoedown with an energetic 100-minute set that found the group characteristically polished but also agreeably loose. It could have been the festival atmosphere of the Hoedown or the afterglow of having its latest release, "Heart Break," debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. Or maybe it was relief that the predicted night of heavy rain never transpired. For whatever reason, Kelley and company -- including Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood and a seven-member backing band -- were clearly happy and in high spirits, which only worked to the benefit of the 21-song show.

Kelley, in fact, was loose enough to make up a brief song about the Hoedown on the spot, just before Lady A's pairing of "Compass" and "We Owned The Night." Later, Kelley remarked that Scott was sporting a Pat Benatar look, which led Scott and Haywood to break into Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot;" After Kelley recalled that he saw Scott perform the song in a Nashville bar before Lady A formed -- flirting with her afterwards -- the group played a fair bit of the tune before launching into the soulful new song "Good Time To Be Alive" and a coda of Bill Withers' "Lean On Me."

The three "Heart Break" songs fit well alongside the rest of Lady A's material, while two brass players added to the group fortified those as well as many of the older songs. Playing as a trio without the rest of the band, Kelley, Scott and Haywood covered Scott's Grammy Award-winning faith-based hit "Thy Will" as well as Shania Twain's "You're Still The One" -- telling the DTE crowd that Twain was in Chicago on Thursday night and heard Lady A's rendition. Opener Brett Young dueted with Kelley on a rendition of Tim McGraw's "Something Like That," while the other opener, Kelsea Ballerina, joined Scott -- in matching bedazzled denim jackets -- for Beyonce's "Crazy In Love."

Lady A covered all the hit bases, too -- "Our Kind Of Love," "American Honey," "I Run To You," "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," et al -- and wound up with an emotive performance of its iconic ballad "Need You Now." The group may be reaching veteran status in the country world, but on Friday it showed it can still hold its own, and then some, amidst the newbies.

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