Little Big Town might be considered the female version of The Statler Brothers or Oak Ridge Boys.
Their harmony, stage presence, and attention to detail - factors which the Statlers and Oaks take seriously - were obvious last night when they made their return to Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Also like the Statlers and Oaks, every member had a special and important part in the performance, which highlighted their respective style. The blend was perfect.
The result was a 90-minute concert that held the large audience captive from opening song "Why, Oh Why," a catchy number from their new LP "The Reason Why," to their closing signature hit, "Boondocks."
Then, they proved entertainingly innovative with their curtain call number. They sang "Lean Into It," also from new album, starting the selection with just the four vocalists, which a band member said, "is like we started in the business, just the four of us." As the song progressed, band members made their way to the stage, bringing the sound to their present recording level.
Little Big Town did a 23-song set with the curtain call number. The members were backed by a five-piece band.
There were very few breaks taken from the continuous steam of song after song.
The first occurred between the ninth and 10th songs when Karen Fairchild, who has one of the most amazing voices, looked at some fans standing in front of the stage taking photos and referred to them as "Sugar Babies." She identified them as both Sugarland and Little Big Town fans. Fairchild made reference to the fact that Little Big Town has done extensive touring with Sugarland and will be touring with the superstar duo again this coming year.
"It's great to be back here," she said of performing at Penn's Peak. "The last time I was trying to hide that I was pregnant. I saw photos from that show and saw I didn't do a good job of hiding it." She said she now has a son that she and her husband, member Jimi Westbrook, take with them on the bus while touring.
Westbrook's vocals were especially strong on another song, "Shut Up Train, from the new LP. The song is unique. It's a type of ballad, with a blue grass tweak, about the protagonist suffering from mental anguish over a failed relationship and trying to sleep, but constantly being awakened by train whistles.
Although not released as a single, "Shut Up Train" was a strong selection in the concert which netted great audience response.
Of course the songs that the people responded to best - and very loudly - were "Boondocks" and "Little White Church."
"Boondocks" was the first top 10 hit of Little Big Town and many in the crowd singing along. Some people were wearing "I was born in the Boondocks" tee shirts to the concert.
It accented the singing voice of Westbrook.
"Little White Church," which has Fairchild as the lead vocalist, is the current hit of the band and has reached number six on the country charts.
Other band members besides Fairchild and Westbrook are Phillip Sweet and the flirtatious Kimberly Schlapman.
Opening for them was Walker Hayes, who sang without a backup band.
Hayes has a unique song climbing the charts entitled "Pants."