Live review: Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum @ Comfort Dental AmphitheatreBy Colleen Smith, Allison Berger and Allison Berger | August 2nd, 2010 | 13 comments
En route to the Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum concert Saturday evening, a digital thermometer read 85 degrees, but the heat didn’t prevent concertgoers from wearing cowboy boots. Female fans wore boots with short-shorts, boots with skirts short and long boots with jeans. A majority of the men wore cowboy boots, too. All the better to kick up their heels with some country music.
But the question remains: What is country music these days? Many of the genre’s superstars integrate enough pop and rock ‘n’ roll elements that the best tunes crossover. I don’t consider myself a big fan of country music, but I’m familiar with one of Lady Antebellum’s CDs; and that was draw enough for me.
Lady A. traded on strong vocals, tight harmonies and a sturdy Nashville-based band. The three mainstays — Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott — played off each other well, tossing lead vocals back and forth. In their set, they included “Need You Now,” “ Love Don’t Live Here,” and “Lookin’ for a Good Time.” They closed with “I Run To You,” which garnered a Grammy for Best Country Performance by Duo or Group with Vocals. Lady Antebellum also covered Tom Petty’s “Free Falling,” a highlight of the show. (The group just announced they will return to Denver to play the Fillmore Nov. 3).
Lady Antebellum is relatively new, but Tim McGraw has been performing for 22 years, he noted during his set. McGraw’s show is flashy yet not over-the-top. His band consists of 10 musicians, including four guitarists.
There’s no doubt about McGraw’s talent, and as if to show off his range, he pulled off a smashing cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” — not an easy song to sing.
Wearing distressed jeans, a threadbare white V-neck T-shirt and snakeskin boots, McGraw sported a black cowboy hat, yet seems like a good guy. He had the ladies swooning, but to his credit, McGraw mentioned his love for his wife, Faith Hill, and their three daughters. McGraw is a guy’s guy, and the men cheered him heartily, too. His down-home friendliness seemed authentic as he slapped fans’ hands, gave fist bumps and at various points sat down on the edge of the stage to sing on the crowd’s level. One stripped down segment of the show featured his songwriting collaborators adding perfect harmonies and acoustic guitar work.
McGraw told the audience that when he went to college, he pawned his high school ring for a guitar. Admitting that he never advanced to virtuoso status, he strummed an acoustic guitar and sang a solo rendition of Alabama’s “Feels So Right.”
Never mind that he’s no Eric Clapton, McGraw holds his own with his voice, his stage presence and his versatile talents. When McGraw’s not gripping a microphone, he might be found on a movie set. Most recently, he co-starred with Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side.” And before McGraw took the stage, the audience got a peek at trailers for “Country Strong,” his upcoming movie with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Correction: Aug. 3, 2010, 11:07 a.m.
This article has been corrected to reflect that Lady Antebellum performed a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.”
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