Country superstars Lady Antebellum do not need an introduction.
The seven-time Grammy-award winners talked about opening for the likes of Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney at past Florida shows during the group’s lone South Florida stop on their Take Me Downtown tour at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood Friday night.
Not this time.
“You finally started coming out just for us,” a cool, hair slicked back Charles Kelley said.
And the Hollywood crowd, wrought with cowboy hats, pin-up jeans and knotted t-shirts, would partake in a show that had everything from breathy acoustics to Top 40 hits.
The folks at the very back of the venue, I’m guessing, had a particularly good time because the secondary stage lost its name throughout Lady Antebellum’s almost two-hour set.
The group opened with “Compass” on this stage, the third single from their new album, “Golden.” The lyrics flashed on the main stage’s screen, as fans’ eyes darted back and forth searching for the spotlight on the featured acts.
Besides Kelley, Hillary Scott’s powerful vocals, which need no comparison, carried most of the tracks, especially “It Ain’t Pretty.”
Scott fought back tears as she muscled through the song’s lyrics: “it ain’t pretty/when a heart breaks.”
However, she was quick to mention a song that was “perfect for a casino” – Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” It was the first non-country, Top 40 hit the group sang, weaved into the end of “Our Kind Of Love,” which wasn’t one of their own.
Among the night’s many highlights was one of the first live performances of Lady A’s new single, “Bartender.”
“We’re trying it out on you,” Kelly said.
He wasn’t kidding. The song won’t be available for download until May 20.
The catchy drink references, a popular theme in their biggest claim to fame, took the part in “Bartender”, an up-tempo track about drinking the night away. Scott playfully sang “what I’m really needing now/is a double shot of Crown,” before the “hey bartender” chorus kicked in.
Beyond the music, perspective was also key during Lady Antebellum’s set. During one of the songs, Kelley grabbed a GoPro camera and sang while filming himself from a selfie point of view.
“Everybody needs a selfie these days, huh?” Kelley said, before taking a few with fans himself.
The GoPro also worked well as an attachment on a solid guitar solo from Dave Haywood, the often-forgotten member of the group. Fans could see the coordination on the strings front and center, as Haywood’s movements and facial expressions were sucked in from the little camera.
Back on the not so secondary stage, Lady A quickly worked through acoustic versions of singles “Dancin’ Away With My Heart,” “Wanted You More” and “Goodbye Town.”
Kelley dedicated the latter to a fan with a ‘One Day You Will’ sign, as he weaved through the crowd to touch the fan’s hand after he finished the track. The Augusta, Georgia native was quite the entertainer, even sipping someone’s drink and signing autographs mid-song.
Of course, the night would not be complete without chart-topper “Need You Now,” perhaps the most breathtaking song ever written about a booty call. The build-up to the track featured a slideshow on the main screen consisting of others who have borrowed the lyrics, from Adele to Fox’s “Glee.”
And, it did not end there.
Lady Antebellum closed with interesting covers of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and Anna Kendrick’s “Cups (When I’m Gone),” capping a full-circle experience.
After that, I half expected (and wanted) a rendition of Pitbull’s “Timber,” which actually played on the loud speakers before the show.
Maybe next time.