Little Big Town Rocks Our Little City
By Lesley Buxton.
Friday night the South Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton was visited by the reigning CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town. The multi-award winning group became a household name over twenty years ago and has been wowing fans ever since.
The show was the second last in their popular Breakers Tour which finishes Saturday night at the Abbotsford Centre. At about 9:30 pm band members Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, and Jimi Westbrook appeared on stage to an eager audience whose first glimpses of them were in black and white on the big screen behind the stage. Instantly the band began a soulful rendition of “Front Porch Thing” followed by “Little White Church” and a their number one hit single “Pontoon.” From the start their harmonies were impeccably timed and beautiful.
It was an energetic beginning that became even more charged when images of stars and galaxies began appearing on the screen and the band began a cover of Elton John’s “Rocketman.”
Everything about this number was beautifully composed. Even the bands outfits which featured hues of grey, silver and black. Vocalist Jimi Westbrook’s black leather jacket adorned with stars looked as if had been created intentionally for the number.
Despite it being the end of the tour, the band was enthusiastic and laid back, even bringing out their kids to dance during their upbeat number “Happy People.” A gesture the audience adored. Halfway through the concert, vocalist Karen Fairchild took time to chat with the audience sharing that the band “just loved Canada”.
There were poignant moments especially during “Bring It On Home” and “Sober.” Songs rooted in the days before Little Big Town became household names. The concert was filled with chart-toppers. Couples slow-danced to “Better Man” the GRAMMY-winning, multi-week #1 single. Groups of ladies danced to “Tornado”, the band’s popular rock-driven song about a woman getting back at her cheating lover. The standout song of the concert, “Girl Crush” which the audience knew line-by-line marked the homestretch.
The final song “Boondocks” was perfectly manoeuvred such that concert-goers were so satisfied nobody even called for an encore—a first for this reviewer. As the lights came up, over the PA, a funky James Brown number began to play and fans danced as they made their way out of the venue.
Two of the best surprises of the evening were the opening acts. Singer-songwriter Jillian Jacqueline with her guitarist-fiancée Bryan Brown and Grammy nominated and ACM Award-winning New Vocal Group of the Year trio, Midland. Jillian Jacqueline was received unequivocally by the audience who adored her cover of Whitney Huston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and cheered when she mentioned she’d recorded a song with Keith Urban.
The dynamic Texas-based band, Midland, considered New Traditionalists by some reviewers, played with a stage covered in Canadian flags as a tribute to their Canadian drummer, Robbie Crowell. This band is a must-see for those who like country with power and flair.
Featured photo: Little Big Town. Photo credit: Jeff Hook.