Wade Payne, Invision/AP
"For us, it's honestly been our 'a-ha!' moment," Charles Kelley tells CMT of the success of their tour. "With the exception of a handful, most of the shows have been sellouts, and we honestly had no idea how many people would be coming out to these shows. You throw your mike out to them, and you're going, 'My gosh!' My wife came and saw us in Toronto, and she said three times during the show, she started crying. She couldn't believe it was happening."
The trio, which also includes Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood, made sure their set for this tour included plenty of their own personal touches. "We knew we wanted a pit that we could perform around," Charles describes. "We call it this little inner circle, the 'Lady A Inner Circle,' and literally our stage encompasses it and surrounds this pit of about 200 fans. Everybody feeds off that energy. And there's a thrust. We knew we wanted to have a thrust, too, to get out closer to the audience for some of the moments of the show. I remember when we first walked in [and saw the stage] ... it was mind-blowing. I couldn't believe that it was ours. So much effort and time gets put into those things, and to see it actually tangible -- it blew my mind."
In spite of their years of experience, they do still get a bit nervous before hitting their opening number each night, but they've found an unlikely -- and calorie-burning -- way to calm down before the show.
"I think we get fired up more than anything," Dave reveals. "For us, it's kind of like a game you're getting amped up for. So we'll be backstage playing ping-pong. We've got a ping-pong table, and that helps calm the nerves a little bit."
"It's become an obsession," adds Charles, who swaps his trademark boots for tennis shoes for the occasion. "A really bad obsession."
One thing the group won't do is hold any meet-and-greets during the set of their opening act, Thompson Square.
"We were opening up for people for a long time. And, heck, we could be right there in that position down the road, too," Charles notes. "So we want to always show the openers as much respect because we know what it's like to walk out there and you want everybody to be in there. So we get ready pretty early and have our meet-and-greets around 6 or 6:30. Then the openers will go on, we'll play some ping-pong, listen to some of their set, come back in, have a drink, play some ping-pong, sing a little bit. "
Lady A's new single, "Wanted You More," is in the Top 30 and climbing, and while the three are all listed as co-writers on the tune, they acknowledge their band deserves at least some of the credit.
"Every time we do our sound check, the band's always up there," explains Charles. "I call it 'noodling around.' They're jamming, and every now and then, you're walking up and you'll be like, 'Wow, that's really cool.' I remember on that one, we started humming some melodies to it. We'd come back the next week, and they'd keep playing it and we'd start singing some more stuff on it. It was this cool little process over a couple of weeks. Finally, once we had the melody figured out, we went back into the back -- and we have some video of it -- and we wrote the lyrics to it that day. It was really cool to sit around and have that. What's so cool about it for me is that the band has that personal ownership of it and can really put their stamp on it."
Lady Antebellum's Own the Night World tour, which also includes Darius Rucker, will play in Ireland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway this month. See a list of tour dates here.