by MIKE CHAIKEN
Sometimes when you’re reviewing a concert, you have to take a look around you to see how a performer is doing.
You may be the greatest fan of the artist as a critic. But if you’re enjoying a show and the crowd just isn’t into it, something must be wrong.
So, you have to step back, glance around you, and use your observational skills to figure out if a show is a blast or a bust.
At the Lady Antebellum show at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Aug. 2, all around me I saw nothing but smiles and a glisten in everyone’s eye. Additionally, everyone was either clapping in time, pounding the beat out on their thigh, or shaking the hips. I also spied a good number of people moving their lips and singing along to the trio of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelly.
Forgetting a moment about a critic’s viewpoint, Lady Antebellum put on a great show from the point of view of their fans. And that’s all a band really can ask for.
However, from the point of view of a critic, I have to agree with the fans. Lady Antebellum put on a helluva show.
First of all, the trio are great entertainers. They made me smile with their banter. They clearly were having fun on stage and were glad to be there. And they made everyone in the jam-packed arena feel like they were part of a great big family.
Secondly, their sound is great. It’s appropriate that one of Lady Antebellum’s songs is called “American Honey.” The trio’s sound is sweet and goes down as smooth as, well, American honey. But, this is key, Lady Antebellum are never sappy.
Musically, Lady Antebellum’s harmonies are spot on. Individually, both Scott and Kelly have tremendous pipes. And the trio have a smoking hot band, including multi-instrumentalist Haywood, which lifts the sound with its energy and power.
There were a lot of great musical moments throughout the night. I loved the sound of “I Run to You,” “Pictures,” and “Hello World.” I especially appreciated the trio’s cover version of “I Won’t Back Down” from the late Tom Petty.
There certainly was no mystery as to why the audience had these big old grins on their face.
And as I left the Lady Antebellum show at the end of my night, I must confess, this critic had a big old grin myself.
Opening the evening for Lady Antebellum with the energy and zeal of a Southern Baptist preacher was Drake White. (Appropriately enough, White was a member of the youth choir of his hometown Baptist church.)
White definitely comes from the rock side of the country music spectrum. This was clearly illustrated by his cover versions of Queen, Kings of Leon, and Boston as well as his namecheck of the Rolling Stones. He even tossed in a James Brown song. But the nod to the godfather of souls was kind of appropriate because like Brown, White was deadest on proving himself to be the hardest working man in show business to keep us entertained.
But, even though White might not pass muster with the Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn set, he demonstrated great appeal to the fans waiting for the headliners.
As an opener, White’s mission was to get the audience primed for Lady Antebellum. And he succeeded with a set that was sure, like James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” to make you sweat.
I give Lady Antebellum at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on Aug. 2 3 ½ out of 4 stars.