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Originally published March 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Page modified March 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

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Concert review

KeyArena crowd found a good time with Lady Antebellum

Hot-selling country headliner Lady Antebellum gave the crowd what it was looking for Tuesday night at Seattle's KeyArena — a good time.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Gene Stout, who was the pop music critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for more than 20 years, is now freelancing for The Seattle Times. Look for Gene's articles in print and online. We will also be linking to stories on Gene's blog (GeneStout.com) from our Music & Nightlife page.

Concert Review |

Hot-selling country headliner Lady Antebellum lived up to the promise of its early hit "Lookin' for a Good Time" Tuesday night at KeyArena, offering more than three hours of high-energy, hand-clapping music.

Lady A's current disc, "Own the Night," has been Billboard magazine's No. 1 country album for 13 weeks. With opening acts Darius Rucker and Thompson Square sharing the stage, it was a big night for young country.

Lady Antebellum's highly choreographed, yet overly busy 90-minute set was loaded with hits: "We Owned the Night," "Dancin' Away With My Heart," "Wanted You More," "I Run to You" and "Lookin' for a Good Time."

The fast-rising Nashville trio featuring Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood is a relatively twang-free country phenomenon, with more pop and rock in the musical mix than traditional country. Tuesday's set included several classic-rock songs, among them the Doobie Brothers' "Black Water" and Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion."

But the soul of the group is pure country.

"She grew up on the side of the road/ Where church bells ring and strong love grows," the band sang in "American Honey," from "Own the Night."

The band has described the album's title as a call to action — or at least an invitation to party. Concertgoers took that message to heart, showing off their dance moves during an opening segment featuring the recorded dance music of LMFAO.

Lady A, which recently won a Grammy Award for best country album, performed on an oval stage featuring two sets of stairs, three video screens, an "inner circle" for VIPs and a narrow pier that jutted into the audience.

Kelley and Scott traded lively lead vocals, while Haywood sang backup and added edgy, hard-rocking guitar. Backing them was a powerful band led by Scott's husband, drummer Chris Tyrell.

Lady Antebellum, whose name refers to pre-Civil War America, closed with the wistful, romantic "Need You Now," featuring beautiful harmony vocals by Kelley and Scott.

Opening the show, Thompson Square, an upbeat husband-and-wife duo, performed the hit single "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," while two sets of inflatable red lips floated above the stage.

Darius Rucker, former lead singer for Hootie & the Blowfish, offered a rock-solid set highlighted by tunes from his solo country career. Rucker included credible covers of Hank Williams Jr.'s "Family Tradition" and Prince's "Purple Rain."

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

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