With Lady Antebellum's show at close-to-capacity Allstate Arena Wednesday night, you had a textbook example of various stops on the country career arc. The vocal trio of Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott are eight years into a successful career. Their show had all those trappings – giant video screen (there seems to be competition for how big these can get), acoustic set ("Dancin' Away with My Heart" featured), confetti cannon, cover songs (Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and a blend of Avicii's "Wake Me Up" and Anna Kendrick's "Cups" for the encore) and a lot of energy. The trio ran to various points on the T-shaped runways out into the audience, and worked the crowd expertly. All of the group's hits, including "I Run to You," its first No. 1 song, "American Honey" and "Love Don't Live Here," among others," were well-placed through the hour and fifteen minute set.
The songs are solid. "Downtown," for which the Lady Antebellum tour is named, has some sass, and guitar player Jason "Slim" Campbell added a nice sting to the guitar solo. All in all, very nice work.
Moving on to opening act Kip Moore, here's a red-dirt Georgia guy who wants to be either Bruce Springsteen (he even covered "I'm On Fire") or Shooter Jennings (shaggy band blasting rock). However, he name-checked so many country cliches (Marlboros, Chevys), some of his songs felt more like product placements than actual tunes. "Something About A Truck" and "Beer Money" were free of the product names but the story was still the same. However, the female squeals and the rippling biceps suggest he will occupy the robohunk niche quite nicely.
Kacy Musgraves, also on the bill, has two Grammys, a reverence for her Texas roots and a solid track record in the Nashville songwriting trenches (co-writer of "Mama's Broken Heart," which was a hit for Miranda Lambert). She pretty much just stands there and sings, but songs like "Blowin' Smoke," "Follow Your Arrow," "My House" and "Merry Go Round" are knowing, well-crafted songs. The music moves you so she doesn't have to.
Musgraves does have a nice sense of humor (covering TLC's "Scrubs" was a nice fit the rest of her songs) with she and her band going for electrified suits and boots a la Nudie Cohn, the famed glittery country tailor from back in the day. When Musgraves let out a Bob Willis-style caw, you could see the past and present coming together.