The holidays may be over, but country-pop trio Lady Antebellum lit up EnergySolutions Arena on Friday night with more than just dazzling harmonies.
Eight songs into the 90-minute show, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood turned down the lights for "It Ain’t Pretty," a heart-wrenching ballad off their 2013 "Golden Deluxe" album.
When Kelley asked everyone to turn on their cellphones, the house twinkled with wireless lights.
"Salt Lake City, you look like a Christmas tree," he said.
It was one of the few mellow moments of the upbeat show that kicked off a few minutes past 10 p.m., after openers singer/actress Jana Kramer and country rocker Kip Moore performed.
Lady A set the festive tempo for the show: first by making a surprise entrance from a riser at the back of the main floor and then by launching into the toe-tapping feel-good song "Compass."
After the trio made its way to the front stage, it followed up with a few more up-tempo songs that kept the crowd on its feet and singing along, including "Better Off Now (That You’re Gone)" and "Get to Me."
The forked stage, which jutted into the crowd and then branched out left and right, got the award-winning musicians close to their adoring fans and created a welcoming atmosphere.
"We’ve been off the road for six or seven months, so we feel pretty good to be back in front of you guys," said Kelley.
And it showed, as they shook hands, high-fived and even stepped out into the crowded arena with a hand-held video camera. The view was projected onto a large video screen behind the stage and two smaller ones on either side.
The entertaining, 19-song set was heavy with new offerings off "Golden," including "Downtown" and "The Radio Played."
But Lady A brought out the favorites, too, with "Just a Kiss," "Love Don’t Live Here," "Run to You" — their first No. 1 hit — and finished the main portion of the show with "We Owned the Night."
An especially sweet moment came when Scott brought an unsuspecting tween onstage to sing a duet of "American Honey."
While Lady A teeters between country and pop, the evening took a hillbilly turn when Kramer and Moore returned to the stage, joining Lady A on a cover of "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Fly Away in the Morning."
The three-song encore featured the group’s megahit "Need You Now" and ended — much as the whole thing began — on an upbeat note with covers of Avicii’s "Wake Me Up" and "(You’re Gonna Miss Me) When I’m Gone."
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