Lady Antebellum -- Concert Review

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In only a few short years, country trio Lady Antebellum has risen from obscurity to superstardom, winning a Grammy and multiple Country Music Assn. Awards along the way. Touring to support their chart-topping second album, "Need You Now," the group is attracting the sort of rabid fandom that clearly signals they're no flash in the pan.

Composed of Charles Kelley (vocals), Hillary Scott (vocals) and Dave Haywood (vocals, guitar, piano), the trio is wisely hitting theaters and large clubs in lieu of the bigger venues that they no doubt could fill at this point. But though their stage show can certainly benefit from a little seasoning, it's just a matter of time before they're headlining arenas.

The guitar power chords that began the evening demonstrated that this is as much a pop/rock trio as it is country. Leaving plenty of room for screaming electric guitar solos during their more rocking numbers, they frequently wandered into Springsteen/Mellencamp territory in a performance that showcased songs from the new release and their self-titled debut.

Truth be told, much of this band's music is fairly generic and not terribly memorable. But such songs as "Love Don't Live Here," "Love's Lookin' Good on You" and especially the terrific "Need You Now" feature plenty of infectious pop hooks.

Even their more mundane material, however, is enlivened by their stellar vocal harmonies, which were well on display despite the fact that the audience seemed to be doing as much singing as the band members.

The personal and musical chemistry among the three performers -- who were augmented by a well-honed backup band -- was clearly evident during a show that also included an affectingly quiet acoustic cover of Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" and a rousing version of Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."

The evening reached a nice conclusion with the moving ballad "Hello World," dedicated to the struggling folks in waterlogged Nashville. The encore of the Beatles' "Hey Jude" was ill-advised, though: Really, no one should be ending shows with that song except Paul McCartney.

Opener Dave Barnes, who was joined for one number by Antebellum's Scott, delivered a well-received set showcasing sturdy vocals and diverse original songs displaying rock/R&B influences. His boyish good looks, personable manner and self-deprecating humor had the audience -- who sang along and even cheered on cue -- eating out of the palm of his hand.

Venue: Nokia Theatre, New York (Monday, May 10).
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