Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Review

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Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Cover

Lady Antebellum spent much of 2015 on the road on their "Wheels Up Tour," taking off in Olso, Norway, and landing in Las Vegas in early October. About half-way through they filmed a show at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, California on June 27th and that is the basis of this release.

The video opens with a carload of young girls who rode three days from Austin to attend. And no wonder -- they get an up-close-and-personal meet-and-greet with the band. Quickie interviews of fans coming to the concert in Irvine and stage setup and preparations make way for a typical rock concert smoke and lights entrance. They've come a long way since I saw them at southern Wisconsin's Rock County 4-H Fair in the summer of 2008 -- just a simple show following their self-titled debut, but with the enthusiasm you knew would take them far. I see the dude sporting the dual braids is still playing backing guitar.

If you're watching with subtitles they only display until songs start then cease, which is not cool. They reappear for any between-song patter.

They open with "Long Stretch of Love" off the new record, then blast right into "Bartender" with the guitar riff beefed up, which suits the song better than it sounds on the recorded version. The "double shot of Crown" line yields a camera shot of a well-endowed babe in the audience with a "double shot of beer." I found it odd they kept filming hot chicks in the crowd like it was Justin Bieber up there or something, but as the show progressed you get the sense that vocalist Charles Kelley has built up this demographic with call-outs like, "where my angels at?" and grabbing smartphones from pretty young things near the stage to take selfies and then handing them back mid-song. The disco ball/fireworks background during this tune is somewhat nauseating.

After a brief intro they launch into "American Honey," somewhat slower than the original and with different arrangement of verses that I don't really like after the guitar solo from the braided guy.

After "American Honey" the concert is interrupted for us video-watching folks with a little vignette (a technique they would do a handful of other times throughout the running time in lieu of a separate behind-the-scenes selection) showing the special small stage for VIPs, a little harmony on "Bartender" with Hunter Hayes, and an explanation why they decided to film the DVD at this location. One of the girl fans from the Texas road trip comes up on stage, plays guitar like a pro, sings some song I don't know not quite like a pro, then chats with Charles about the experience afterward.

Then it's back to the concert with "Freestyle" and this is the first time I notice Hillary Scott is wielding a glittery silver microphone while the others get just bland, utilitarian ones. For "Our Kind of Love" Charles points out the cameras in the house and that they have always wanted to film here because California crowds always bring it -- a giant stuffed horse then lands on stage -- "and keep it weird."

Dave Haywood finally gets to talk and intro a song at the piano while starting up "Just a Kiss." Then it's tour band member intros where we find out Hilary's husband Chris Tyrrell is on the drums. I guess that explains the absence of beefcake shots of fans.

The whole tour band is up front for "Compass." Even opening act Hunter Hayes comes back out and absolutely kills it on the mandolin. He stays to sing a song he wrote, "Where it All Begins." Hilary says they've only performed this once before. Hayes plays guitar, does a solo, and generally makes you wish you'd have seen his opening act.

Dave gets to play mandolin on "Perfect Day," then it's... a Wheels Up Tour Design Meeting where they talk about building the set. The riff from "Love Don't Live Here" sounds out of nowhere since Dave is up-front with his guitar... but not playing it. Charles explains how they met in Nashville and they didn't find their sound until they wrote this their first single. Toward the end they take off down a side aisle -- Charles with a handheld camera -- to a smaller stage in the back. There it's just Dave on acoustic guitar while they sing a medley of "Thinking Out Loud," "Dancing Away With My Heart" and "Hello World" in perfect harmony.

Charles shows off his dexterity by starting off "I Run to You" while still in the aisle slappin' hands while the rest are already back on the main stage like they are being paid for this gig. Then another concert interruption! This time it's the big reveal when Lady A sees the completed stage for the first time. Compliments are bandied about and they see how the lights are choreographed "This one wins," says Dave simply. Back to the show: "Downtown" shows off the set design we just saw pretty good, so kudos on the editing there. The Shania Twain cover "Any Man of Mine" features mostly Hilary on lead with a little harmony from Charles except for the "I like it like that!" line.

Hunter Hayes, along with Sam Hunt (the other opening act) appear for the country music-obliterating show-ender "Walk This Way." Oops! Not quite... they are still "Lookin' for a Good Time" though Hillary doesn't take long to flip the "Babe" baseball trucker cap Charles plants on her head into the crowd. Okay, now it's the faux ending.

Encore number one initiates with a cool blue set of diamond lights descending over the three individuals to start up "747." A somewhat pedestrian performance of "Need You Now" follows. "Can we give you one more?" Charles asks into the blackness. They do, and "We Owned the Night" makes an effective and rousing closer with fireworks on the back screen colorfully shooting off in all directions.

Encore number two features just Dave on acoustic guitar for Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" while all sing and the credits start rolling on the bottom in the midst of this finale. After watching it I wanted to dig out my Lady A music so I would call the endeavor a success.

Total playing time is 1:40:37. Audio options are Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, or DTS Surround Sound. Available subtitles are English, Spanish, or French.

4.0 / 5.0