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Lady Antebellum’s ‘Our Kind of Vegas’ a great gig at the Palms

Updated February 11, 2019 - 12:35 am

If you were to have seen Lady Antebellum perform early in their career, whether at a Nashville music club or Wisconsin mini-mart parking lot, you would likely have thought, “This band is heading somewhere special.”

And when you see them somewhere special, such as the Pearl at the Palms, you’ll likely think, “This band has played a lot of gigs to get here.”

The music experience, and life experience, is evident throughout Lady A’s “Our Kind of Vegas” concert production at the Pearl. The band opened its first extended run in Las Vegas this weekend, but is familiar with the city after appearing at the Academy of Country Music Awards show at MGM Grand Garden in 2008. The band’s good fortune in Vegas began then, when they won the Top Vocal Group of the Year and top New Duo or Vocal Group.

Frontwoman Hillary Scott also spent about 10 of her birthdays (April 1, oddly enough) in the city. “Our Kind of Vegas,” thus, uses the Las Vegas stage to tell the stories of their lives and songs (the initial dates run Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with the series continuing for select dates May 10-18 and Aug. 23-31).

The show is slickly produced with video footage of the band’s early career, displayed behind an aggressively displayed THE PEARL logo on the big screens.

But there are no oversized stage effects (no 20-foot Transformer robots or aerial key-tars made popular by the other Lady headlining in Vegas). “Our Kind of Vegas,” with original, tight-knit Lady A members Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood at center stage, is insistently focused on the music.

None other than Saturday’s special guest Richard Marx told the crowd, “There is no auto-tune, no tracking, no lip-syncing going on up here. That’s how bada— this band is.”

Marx joined the acoustic set, along with Nathan Chapman, who produced the band’s 2014 album, “747,” and the first four Taylor Swift albums. The scene evoked the vibe of songwriting showcases at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. Marx warned the crowd not to sing along to his “Right Here Waiting.”

“If you do, you’ll ruin it!” he called out. But the band went ahead and led the crowd-participation moment anyway. Scott also used the acoustic set to introduce a full-band performance of “Thy Will,” the lead single from Scott’s 2016 album, “Love Remains.” The single draws from Scott’s miscarriage in fall 2015.

“I think we’re all either heading into a storm, in the middle of a storm or on our way out of one,” Scott said. “… This is what poured out of me when I was going through one of my darkest periods.” The courage, and confidence, to perform that song comes from an artist totally in tune with her fans.

Lady A did rock the place, too — and during the show some social media commentators suggested that it is not a classic country band, because of the rock-fashioned power they can generate from the stage. The answer is, there is country at the core of a Lady A show; there are some sonic moments, but similar to how Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn bring a sonic quality to their shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. “Country” is in there, but so is rock ‘n’ roll, folk and some R&B with the horns.

As they say, music is music, whether in a Nashville club or a Las Vegas resort.

The band actually treats the recently refurbished venue as an oversized honky-tonk, with Kelley venturing to the floor — actually walking across the seats — for a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” In a moment that might or might not have been meant to invoke the days of Louis Prima at the Sahara’s Casbar Lounge, the two-man horn section also parades through the theater (watch out for that roaming trombone).

The pace and poise of the show made for an easy band to hang with, full of relatable artists. The band members said beforehand that their spouses and kids were more interested in seeing Backstreet Boys at Zappos Theater than their own show at the Palms.

Scott has also told one of the great “bad gig” stories you’ll ever hear, about a 5:45 a.m. set in a gas station parking lot in rural Wisconsin in 2007, before the the album “Lady Antebellum” catapulted the band to fame and awards. They performed in the freezing cold for hunters heading off for the first day of hunting season, three artists in their 20s, with no idea they would one day be bringing their unique warmth to Las Vegas.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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