Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Given the threesome's meteoric ascent, it seems unbelievable that the "very beginning" was only four years ago. In that short time, Lady A have released two multi-platinum albums, including 'Need You Now,' which was the best-selling CD of 2010 behind Eminem's 'Recovery'; dominated this year's Grammy Awards, snaring five statues; and risen from opening act to arena headliner.
Thursday's show, in the small confines of legendary West Hollywood club, the Troubadour, celebrated Tuesday's arrival of Lady Antebellum's third album, 'Own the Night.' The set is certain to not only own the night, but the Billboard charts next week, as it is projected to sell well over 300,000 copies, making it a shoo-in to debut at No. 1 on both the country chart and the all-genre Billboard 200.
But the concert was all about the music. Seated on stools at the edge of the stage (with their five-piece band behind them), Charles, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood ran through a raft of songs from the new album, as well as many of the hits that have helped establish them as the hottest new act in country over the last few years.
From opening song (and current single), 'We Owned the Night,' their delight at playing before such a small audience -- and one that was pressed up against the stage and ripe for hi-fiving and hand-slapping all night -- was evident. "The energy in this room is nuts!," Hillary exclaimed, as the crowd turned every song, even the ones only released three days prior, into a sing-along.
Though Charles, Hillary and Dave presented a united front -- all three in a straight line on their seats -- Charles was first among equals. He served as the de facto band leader, his charisma towering over everyone else on stage. While Hillary and Dave stayed mainly on their seats for much of the evening, Charles dispensed with the stool every chance he got, as if sitting still in such a charged setting was torture. He roamed the stage, took lead on most of the between-songs patter, flirted with the California cuties ("Where are my American honeys," he asked, as way of introducing the past hit) and even threatened to stage dive into the very willing audience at one point.
Hillary and Dave provided the perfect tethers for him, flanking his right and left. Plus, the chemistry that exists between Charles and Hillary, whether it be on the wrenching new ballad, 'Cold as Stone,' or mega-hit 'Run to You' is palpable. The best moment between them came at the end of "Just a Kiss," the first single from 'Own the Night,' which has already soared to No. 1: the pair, in what appeared to be a total improvisation, riffed at the end, extending the song, as one would sing "just a kiss goodnight," the other would follow, singing a sweet, off-the-cuff line. They were flying by the seat of their pants, communicating cues by merely looking into each others' eyes. At the conclusion, their huge smiles showed that the moment had been as special for them as it had been for the audience to witness.
Fans got the world premiere of sure single 'As You Turn Away,' as the first encore. Hillary's lead vocals were some of her most poignant of the night; she sang as if the hurt of the devastating break-up detailed in the song had happened only hours before.
Lady Antebellum wrapped up the hour-long show with their signature smash 'Need You Now,' which will likely be the final song for the rest of their careers. At the rate it's going, that will be for a very, very long time.