As part of The Tribune’s coverage of the 2014 California Mid-State Fair, we’re publishing a series of concert reviews. Below, Tribune news assistant Kaytlyn Leslie reviews Tuesday’s Lady Antebellum concert.
One of the biggest names in country bands, Lady Antebellum offered up a no-frills, fast-paced concert at the California Mid-State Fair on Tuesday night that left the crowd shouting for more long after the encore.
Though opening act Jana Kramer did her best to pump up the crowd, the actress-turned-singer didn’t make much of an impression until the end of her set, when she got the audience swaying with her single “Why Ya Wanna” — a personal favorite of mine.
But then it was time for the main act, and right away I was hooked.
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For the trio’s third performance at the fair, the stage setup was simpler, the audience was pumped up (though the stadium was only about 75 percent full) and it was clear Lady Antebellum was in its element.
The band worked together seamlessly, with singer Charles Kelley acting as audience charmer, singer Hillary Scott crooning her way through sweet and heartfelt moments, and background vocalist/all-around music man Dave Haywood offering up instrumental magic like a “quiet storm” — Haywood’s nickname among band members.
The admittedly good-looking Kelley had the audience in his palm from the start of the opening song, “Compass,” and only reinforced that grip by running into the crowd at least three times throughout the night. He even took a sip from one lucky front-rower’s beer.
Scott took a little bit longer to warm up but caught her stride singing my all-time favorite Lady A song, “American Honey,” which she dedicated to her 1-year-old daughter with bandmate and husband Chris Tyrrell.
From there, the band cycled through all its hits, including “Just a Kiss,” “I Run to You,” “Love Don’t Live Here,” “Downtown,” “Looking for a Good Time” and “We Owned the Night,” as well as a beautiful acoustic nod to some of its early songs.
Lady Antebellum also performed two singles off the band’s upcoming album: “Bartender” and the not-yet-on-the-radio “Long Stretch of Love.”
Kelley told the audience that the latter song had only been performed once before, but he felt a California crowd was the best to test it out on. (Spoiler: Everyone loved it, and just wait until you hear it when the album comes out in September. It’s awesome.)
Finally came the encore, starting with crowd favorite “Need You Now,” and ending with a cover of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” that transitioned into “When I’m Gone,” also known as “The Cup Song.”
As the final words of the song — “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone” — faded out, the band members took their bows and left amid thunderous cheers and applause, proving that we did in fact miss them as soon as they were gone.