‘Lady A’ Owns a Big Night at Packed GCU Arena
Review by Jennifer Willis
Photos by David Blakeman
In their first headlining tour, Lady Antebellum packed the big house Thursday night as they brought their “Own the Night” tour to a sold-out crowd at GCU Arena.
Phoenix, the fifth stop on a 21-show arena tour, is a favorite place to play for the trio, and they reminisced about past performances — none of which, they said, compared to playing in the new Arena.
Lady Antebellum, known as “Lady A” to their fans, consists of Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood. The show, kicked off by opening acts Randy Montana and Josh Kelley, is high energy yet intimate, with a spaceship-looking stage that juts into the audience and a special circle in the center, giving about 150 concertgoers an up-close experience.
Lady A was no letdown. Rising up from the floor in the middle of the stage, they started out with their single “We Owned the Night,” for which their tour and new album are named.
Playing a mix of old and new material, they sped up the show up with hits such as “Lookin’ for a Good Time” and “Our Kind of Love,” then slowed it down with “Just a Kiss” and “Hello World,” a song they say they didn’t write themselves but instantly fell in love with.
Everything in the show was about connecting with the audience, from the way the stage was designed to the sing-alongs with the crowd on some of the more popular songs. The trio worked the stage expertly, making sure that all areas of the 5,000-seat Arena had the opportunity to feel as if they were being addressed personally at some point in the night.
A highlight was when they brought Montana and Josh Kelley back onstage in the middle of the song “American Honey” to cover excerpts of songs such as the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” and the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.”
By the time the trio came out for an encore, you could tell that Scott’s voice was starting to become tired. That didn’t stop her from belting out the last line to “Need You Now” in a hauntingly beautiful a cappella — a perfect way to close the show.
Montana, the son of famous country singer-songwriter Billy Montana, who has written No. 1 singles for Garth Brooks, Jo Dee Messina and Sara Evans, is fairly new yet already seems to have a following. Playing a short set list, he connected well with the crowd and received loud applause when brought back onstage by the headliners.
Josh Kelley, the brother of Lady A’s Charles Kelley, originally made a name for himself as a pop artist with an album in 2003 and the singles “Only You” and “Amazing,” both on adult-contemporary radio. He switched directions in 2010, releasing a country album, and his first single, “Georgia Clay,” quickly became a Top 20 hit on the country charts.
Kelley is an excellent performer, unafraid to be a little goofy and have some fun. At one point, he sang Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” switching in midsong to rap the theme to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to excited applause and laughs from the audience.
Kelley also received ooh’s and aah’s from females in the crowd when he played a song that he had written for his 3-year-old daughter, nicknamed “Naleigh,” whom he and his actress wife, Katherine Heigl, adopted from South Korea in 2009.
As the happy and satisfied crowd dispersed into the night, chatting about the show, several could be heard commenting on the Arena.
Said one gentleman to a companion as they walked to the parking lot: “It is such a great size. It’s not too big like U.S. Airways. Even Wells Fargo Arena at ASU squeezes in around 8,000, which is almost too much. They really built it right.”
Score one more for GCU.
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.