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Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town invites Charlotte,NC to jump on the Bandwagon

Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town bring the heat as they kick off The Bandwagon Tour in Charlotte, NC

She’s a firecracker from Texas, and they are one of the most recognized musical groups from Tennessee. These two Grammy award winning acts set out to combine their musical powers and fan bases by creating The Bandwagon Tour. I am of course speaking of Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town. This 17-stop tour commenced at PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC, and we were there to experience it.

Miranda has been stomping her boots while strumming her guitar around the country music world for almost eighteen years now. With each year that passes she continues to find ways to show her grit while also opening up to the world in the most sincere ways; from her musical radio debut that proved that love can be a pain with “‘Kerosene” to her most talked about heartbreak that verified said pain all too hard after her split from Blake Shelton, which sparked an incredibly emotional and touching song titled “Tin Man”. Miranda has shown her strength and even her weaknesses to the music community and it’s because of her relatability that so many people love her and she draws a fan base any artist would love.

Alongside Miranda on this highly anticipated tour is Little Big Town, a band of four whose harmonies are some of the best in the business. For twenty years, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet have used their voices to serenade the world. Much like their touring partner Miranda, they’ve introduced many songs into the universe that have climbed the charts. Recently you may have seen them be nominated for a Grammy for their smash hit “Girl Crush”. Composer Taylor Swift took home the Grammy for this song, but Little Big Town preformed it in a way only they could.

When arriving at the venue it was easy to tell it was going to be a wonderful evening as the Carolina skies were full of clouds and a breeze that swept through the area, creating a perfect summer night. Our musical experience began with a set from a young female country singer by the name of Tenille Townes. Although she’s currently a resident in Nashville,  she refers to home as a small town in Canada. On stage, the back wall was a large LED screen that illuminates with her name as she walks towards the center to begin her performance. Immediately the crowd that has arrived early enough to witness the show in its entirety was entranced by her voice. She belts out beautiful note after note with a vibe of a southern belle with an attitude, in the best way. Townes brand of songwriting revolves around songs that have deep and powerful lyrics, like in “Somebody’s Daughter” which speaks of women who may have lost their way but are still important. Even the lyrical story “Jersey on the Wall”, which speaks to God asking “Why can’t you stop a car from crashing?”, questioning the lost of a loved one. It’s very clear that Tenille will be one to watch rise up the charts over the next few years, as she oozes a genuine country vibe with an emotional connection to each song. Before she left the stage she thanked the crowd and said,  “This is so cool!” as she experienced a large crowd for the first time on this first stop of the tour.

Just a mere five minutes later, our next act walks on stage. Natalie Hemby is accompanied by K.S Rhoads. As she approached the mic, she jokingly introduced herself as Miranda Lambert and K.S to her right as Little Big Town. Now if the name Natalie Hemby doesn’t immediately ring a bell allow us to help you out. “Pontoon”, “White Liar”, “Automatic”, yep those songs from Miranda and Little Big Town, all came to be thanks to Natalie and her incredible song writing ability. Although she’s written a lot of songs for plenty of big named artists, she recently took the jump of recording an album of her own for the first time. One of the songs she performed from her album Puxico was “Return”, which speaks of a love that was one sided. She also introduced us to one of her favorite songs she recently wrote for an artist named Kassi Ashton titled “Taxidermy”. An all around fun song that urges you not to mess with this woman who blends country and pop, all stitched together by the acoustic guitar of KS. Natalie mentioned the Carolina heat and spends her last few minutes with us performing a chilling rendition of “Jealous”, a song from Labrinth but written by Natalie.

The whole night we saw a large LED screen, as well as drum kits and keyboards atop elevated platforms covered in screens as well; the time finally came to put those instruments into action. Before Little Big Town made their way to the stage, the audience was shown a large Bandwagon Jukebox on the screen, which took us on a journey through some of the biggest hits of the past from various artists, including Hall & Oates and Michael Jackson. There were six artists on screen that we would cycle through before we we get to number seven, which was Little Big Town. A fun thing to have and build excitement, it’s something we would love to see at more concerts. As the last song came closer to conclusion, band members made their way on stage and instantly began playing. Not wasting a single moment, Little Big Town made their entrance while singing synchronized harmonies.

Guitars and hard drum hits got the crowd roaring and singing along as “Rollin’” got a party started. One minute into their set and it felt like we were witnessing what most acts would consider a finale as all members lined up along the edge of the stage and were dancing; but, luckily for us, it was just the beginning. From song transitions to stagehands performing a ballet with mic stands, this was one of the most precise and choreographed shows I have ever witnessed. As one song ended we went straight into another one, no breaks or breathers.

Encouraging the fans to raise their drinks for a little “Day Drinking”, or in this case night drinking, to keep this country party going. After a few upbeat songs from these party starters, it was time to slow it down a tad. As songs like “When Someone Stops Loving You” and “Lost In California” show off the true vocal talent from these four. It’s a feeling like no other to get completely wrapped up in the moment that is created by the harmonies and musical combination of this band. Not to mention how ocean waves across the screen and the Carolina breeze solidifies it all as it passes through the hair of Karen and Kimberly. The great thing about joining a tour for opening night is that you don’t know what to expect. There is no setlist to prepare for and no videos online to spoil the fun. From rock and roll worthy performances like “Save Your Sin” to cover songs such as the out of this world version of Sir Elton John’s “Rocket Man” (complete with a fog filled stage and spaces graphics as a backdrop) this could have easily been the end of the show and would have left everyone happy.

They had more in mind though as Karen said, “We’re just getting started!”. It was then that the audience was presented with a video of a pontoon being loaded into the water that gets the loudest reaction yet from the crowd. A super sing-a-long commenced and funky dances moves filled the pavilion. Before the band bid adieu to the crowd, they kicked it into an even higher gear as they sang “Stay All Night” with guitar solos and signing of fans’ signs thrown on stage.

As the stage cleared a few minor adjustments were made to prepare for Miranda Lambert, and the Bandwagon Jukebox returned with only five songs now in between us and the start of her set. As Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘“Travelin’ Band” played, we heard kick drums fill the speakers as fans rose from their seats. A barn appeared on the screen behind the band with a large “M” at the top of the building. Miranda made her way out as she waved to the crowd and screams amplified. She wasted no time taking us all into this fast paced, high speed introduction that is driven by the song “That’s the Way That the World Goes Round” a song originally by John Prine. The barn on stage was then engulfed in flames as if it were just doused in kerosene, making the crowd lose their mind. High squeals and a ton of “OMG”’s are heard all around. A few songs into the set she took a moment to greet the crowd by saying “Hello, friends!” and welcomed everyone to the show. At that time the barn was now back on screen but, illuminated by string lights that attach to nearby trees. This mirrors the string lights that hang above the audience, creating a summer backwoods feel throughout.

Her fan base seems to be one of her favorite parts of career as she smiled and waved to the crowd throughout the entire evening. Going from rock vibes to slow country songs and back isn’t an easy feat, but her and her band do it with ease. At one point a golden field set on stage as Miranda sang a heartfelt “Over You”, which got the audience swaying from side to side and singing along. In fact, she left the last verse to be sung by the audience, who were more than ready to take over. She was then left on stage with her acoustic guitar for her next song.

“In country music, sometimes you get your heartbroken, but you take the pain and write a song,” explained a teary-eyed Lambert, leading the crowd into ”Tin Man”. As the song came to a close she encouraged the crowd to harmonize with her, soon to to be joined by Little Big Town, crowding around the edge of the stage and creating a powerful moment.

As both acts are now on stage, you know it’s about to get real. The next twenty minutes took the audience on a roller coaster of hits. As one accompanied the other on their song, it was a night the crowd won’t soon forget. “Girl Crush” is the first of many songs that combine all of their voices in a way any fan of music would love. What follows is what felt like one of the most epic finales ever at a concert. As both sets of icons stood tall on the stage, we were gifted with surprise covers of Dixie Chicks “Goodbye Earl” and Destiny’s Childs “Say My Name”, right in the middle of “Little White Church”, and all wrapped up with a explosive version of “Little Red Wagon”. The stage then filled with every musician that was part of this tour, as everyone said their goodbyes and goodnights with a bonding version of “Lean On Me”.

On this tour there are so many surprises, some of which we encourage you to go check out yourself because we couldn’t fit them all in here. This is a show you do not want to miss. Seriously. Go buy tickets now! You can catch The Bandwagon Tour passing through a city near you from now through late August.

Catch this tour!

Miranda Lambert Setlist PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC, USA 2018, The Bandwagon Tour

Photos courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media (EB Media)

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