Review: Lady A at The Anthem Was the “Compass” to Amazing Music

tour is that fans “request” songs via Instagram, phone calls, or polls. They’ve been on tour since April 2023 with opener Dave Barnes (famed country songwriter and solo singer), and this method of the fans providing the setlist has worked extremely well. The show at The Anthem on October 28th was their last stop on the tour, which Charles Kelley promised would “take [the audience] on a journey of how far our band has come.” Lady A is composed of lead singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, and backup vocals and instrumentalist Dave Haywood. The audience was pumped to hear their suggested songs, and Lady A did not disappoint.

The show kicked off with “I Run To You”, from their 2008 debut. Scott walked onto the stage with a black and white striped outfit reminiscent of Beetlejuice (in honor of Halloween); she was prepared to let her strong vocals command each member of the audience. Her strong harmonies with Kelley began the song against Haywood’s piano. As the second verse kicked in, the rest of the touring band joined the jam and captivated the crowd. Lady A continued with their 2014 hit “Bartender,” another rugged and rock-tinged hit that featured Haywood’s immaculate guitar playing.

“American Honey” was the first requested song of the night. Lady A performed an extended version in honor of an audience member’s birthday, whose voicemail they played for the entire Anthem to hear. After one high-intensity tune (“Our Kind Of Love”) and a slower song (“What If I Never Get Over You”), the band properly introduced themselves to the crowd. They changed the setup of the stage, stripping down to a piano for Haywood and two chairs for Scott and Kelley. Another voicemail played: this one from a high-schooler. Scott told about the making of the requested song, entitled “I Was Here,” and talked about how she sang it at her high school graduation.

The show proved Lady A’s emotional and musical versatility; they can perform a dance-along song and then, next, a slow ballad with brilliant writing. When performing two tracks from 2011’s Own the Night, which focuses on the idea of former loves, Kelley explained that a major theme of the Lady A discography is longing for the past. This concert taught me the importance of well-written lyrics; the show is more exciting when you can relate to what is being said and be moved to feel things from nostalgia to euphoria. As the longing ballads concluded, Kelley directed the band to “pick it up”, and they began to play their Grammy-winning country-pop tune “You Look Good.”

The highlight of the night was a deep cut: “Army” from 2017’s Heart Break. Kelly introduced the song about the “strong women” in his life: Hillary Scott, his wife Cassie, and many others. After the first verse, Kelley introduced the touring band. Each delivered a strong solo after Kelley shared an anecdote for each of them. The love and appreciation on the stage felt tangible.

Lady A continued to excite the audience, not only with their brand new song “Love You Back” but also with a spur-of-the-moment performance of Van Halen’s “Jump.” Scott detailed how great it felt to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2021, and the band played a song “opry-style.” This song, “Compass,” is already a major hit, but the added country twang turned the live version into an even better reinvention. Lady A took more requests as they moved through the show, featuring voicemails from fans like a mother who wanted to hear a 2019 album-cut about Scott having to leave her kids for tour and a couple that requested “One Great Mystery” in honor of their anniversary.

Scott and Kelley explained how, when they first made public the idea of the Request Line tour, they got requests for songs by OTHER bands. In the spirit of these initial requests, they went on to cover Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” This added an unexpected layer of fun to an already enjoyable night. They topped off the lengthy set with “We Owned The Night,” “Downtown” (which featured a much-needed solo performance from Scott), and their first-ever single “Love Don’t Live Here.”

Cries for an encore filled The Anthem as the audience anticipated Lady A’s most famous song. Scott returned to the stage, saying, “I think we forgot a song!” Because it was the last show of the tour, Kelley clarified that this encore will go a bit longer than most. They first played a new release, “A Love Song,” before moving into the 2011 Song of the Year “Need You Now.” The massive hit, as it has been praised, captures a cinematic sense of longing for lost love. As Lady A’s strongest and most famous song, it perfectly ends both the evening and the tour. Lady A is far from done making and playing music, though. They’re entering a whole new era.

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