Lady Antebellum’s 65-city Wheels Up 2015 Tour, in support of the group’s airborne LP 747, takes off for Europe at the end of this month and will touch back down in the U.S. in May, with Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt along as special guests. Although the trio has performed onstage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena at various awards shows, they’ve never headlined — or, for that matter, even opened — a show at the Music City hockey rink. That will change on September 11th, however, as Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood play their first-ever full-scale gig at their hometown venue.
“We’ve talked about doing this for the longest time,” says Kelley, who will celebrate his birthday the day of the gig, during a press event Monday morning. “It’s always a scary thing. Nashville is very industry-heavy, obviously, and we know there’ll be a lot of peers here. So you want to make sure going into it that you’re ready and that you feel like you’re at a point in your career where you can fill it up. We felt like we had just such an amazing year with ‘Bartender’ and to have these two amazing openers, Sam Hunt and Hunter Hayes, this is the year to come out swinging.”
“It’s truly a bucket-list show,” Haywood says. “It’s such a big stage, massive. We’ve never even opened up for anybody at Bridgestone. We love this town and wanted to make it a priority.”
Scott echoes her bandmates’ sentiments and believes a home-turf show carries a certain amount of weight. “This is where we live,” she says. “It’s just nice to be home, especially because I was born and raised here. This is all I’ve ever known.”
The threesome remained mum on specific aspects of the Wheels Up Tour’s stage production, but having just watched the Super Bowl halftime show by Katy Perry the night before, Scott noted that the Lady A budget might not be quite on the same scale. “All we saw watching that halftime show last night was ‘cha-ching, cha-ching,'” she muses.
Nonetheless, the trio was inspired by the over-the-top spectacle, which featured Perry riding in on an enormous tiger, and is committed to reaching fans in all areas of the arena. Haywood says such proximity is key to establishing a connection with an audience.
“Finding those moments to get really close to the fans is something that’s really important to us,” he says. “Last year, we had a moment where we were out in the middle, practically the lawn, at amphitheaters, so we’re trying to find ways to get back out there.”
“You’ve got to pick your bells and whistles,” Kelley reasons of the show’s production. “There’ll be some kind of 747 references I’m sure, going into it. I won’t give it away, but we’ve got something that looks pretty dadgum cool.”
Jokes Scott, “We’re going to go out on a tiger.”
After their European trek, which stops in Norway, Sweden, Ireland and the U.K., Lady A will head to Australia. The trio’s first U.S. show is May 1st in Lubbock, Texas.