Salt Lake concert preview: Lady Antebellum picks up the tempo

Published January 24, 2014 9:47 am
Interview • Singer Charles Kelley has family ties in Utah.
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Two years ago when award-winning country trio Lady Antebellum performed at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, the concert's biggest moments came during the soft-sounding ballads "Need You Now" and "We Owned the Night."

Friday night, when Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood take the stage, fans can expect the highlights to be more up-tempo.

"The 2012 tour was our first headlining tour and we learned a lot," Kelley said during an interview on Jan. 9, one day the before the group opened its 60-city "Take Me Downtown" tour in Peoria, Ill. "We learned what worked well and what didn't and what things we would have done differently."

One of the lessons learned was "to really lean on the fun songs," he said. "So this will be a more high-energy show than the last one."

From a new stage "that juts out in a couple different directions" to high-definition screens, everything about this concert — which was originally set for November — will be "fun and different," he said.

On the musical side, fans can expect to hear the Nashville band's newest single, "Compass," which was designed to be an arena-size sing-along driven by banjo and mandolin. It's one of several up-tempo hits on Lady A's "Golden Deluxe" album from 2013.

For Kelley, the Utah show also could mean a family reunion. His older brother and fellow country singer, Josh, lives in Park City with his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, and their daughter, Naleigh.

Utah also was a favorite vacation spot for the Kelley boys, who also include oldest brother John, he said. "Our family used to go skiing in Park City all the time."

Kelley said he has continued to enjoy the winter sport with Haywood. "Dave and I love to ski. He likes moguls and is a little bit better than me. I'm more middle-of-the-road and just kind of like to cruise."

Country singer Kacey Musgraves, who was scheduled to open with Kip Moore, dropped out of the Salt Lake City show. Singer and actress Jana Kramer, best known for her role as Alex Dupre on the television series "One Tree Hill," will perform in her place.

What have you been doing to prepare for the tour?

They let us set up a day early so we could get in and rehearse in the space. We hope to get a bunch of rehearsals in today before we get the tour started. The first couple shows will be a work in progress. It's good Salt Lake has us in a couple weeks. We'll be pretty polished by then.

Have any of the songs off "Golden" or "Golden Deluxe" become a favorite?

I love the whole record. "Downtown" was different than anything we had done before. It will be great for a live show and I think the fans are ready for something different from us. But the new single "Compass" is my new favorite. It's one of those songs that's got a great message and a great tempo. I always like whatever our newest song is.

Lady A has won many awards. Does that make songwriting or song selection more intimidating?

After a hit like "Need You Now," you honestly try to chase that sound again. We tried to do that and made some mistakes. One thing we learned was we have to really stretch ourselves as artists. After Hillary had her baby, we became complacent and comfortable with everything. We realized we've got to fight and stay relevant and work to feel that fire again. We decided to get back and come up with a new cool sound to engage the fans.

When you're on tour, how do you and the other band members relax?

We have a trainer who comes out on the road so we try to get a workout in as much can. We're also obsessed with ping-pong. We have a ping-pong table that folds up and we have ping-pong wars. Dave's really good, and I'm up there, too. Hillary stays away from it. There's a lot of writing music and pulling out the guitars and jamming, too.

Will Josh and his family be at the Salt Lake City show?

I can't say. I don't think he's seen a show in a while.


Lady Antebellum with Kip Moore and Jana Kramer

When • Friday, Jan. 24, 8 p.m.

Where • Energy Solutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $25-$66.50 at smithstix.com



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