Review of Little Big Town at Irving Plaza NYC on Feb. 12, 2013
Little Big Town Lasso’s New York City
Fresh off their first Grammy win for best country group performance on Sunday night (finally! I have been screaming from the roof top for some time now about this magnificent quartet) and after taping the David Letterman earlier in the day, Little Big Town lassoed the standing room only (elbow meets elbow) crowd at Irving Plaza (picture trying to get on the #4 train at Grand Central station during rush hour) with sweet harmonizing vocals, that this side of town has never heard, along with a powerful display of energy that everyone could tell was real and left the audience gasping for more and I think they will need a bigger rope (and venue) to capture the clamoring fans who absolutely love this hard working band. Somehow Little Big Town seems to fly under the radar (and I can’t figure out why) and I know they wouldn’t say this but I’ll say it for them- they are the best vocal group in country music (and have been for the past 10 years) or any other kind of music genre, I don’t want to limit it to country music. Upon leaving Irving Plaza, I now know that seeing them live is better than listening to their studio recordings and I realize that is hard to believe with their unbelievable voices, but it is true.
After a splendid opening set from newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who according to Karen Fairchild, is set to explode whether she knows it or not, the buzz in the air was similar to a rodeo where both the bull and riders’ adrenaline are riding high. It was dark for at least five minutes after the crew applied its finishing touches to the stage and then one by one the audience can see shadowy figures entering the elevated platform for the herd on the floor. The gate is opened and the rider (audience) and bull (LBT) explode at the same time and they both remain at the elevated adrenaline for the entire 100 minutes of the show.
Karen, Kimberly, Phillip and Jimi are all larger than life from my vantage point and they are accompanied by three additional musicians, who kept the engine roaring throughout. This is the “Tornado” tour and they did lift, spin and toss the audience into a frenzy but there were tender moments where one felt like they were listening to a song all by themselves in their car. I could not believe the energy in the air, it was so infectious that had there been any room to move, line dancing would have started immediately. Irving Plaza turned into one big karaoke bar as everyone was singing along- not as great as LBT-but how could anyone who attends their shows, not sing along? It’s impossible.
Highlights from the show (the whole show was a highlight…but if I had to pick) for me was “Your Side of the Bed” “Sober” “and “Can’t Go Back.” Karen and Jimi did an awesome job of singing a song that doesn’t seem to depict their marriage with “Your Side of the Bed”- it was an unbelievable moment and yet the words to the song do not represent the love that you could sense between them as well as the other members of the band. Little Big Town turns a sad song into an experience that sends shivers down your spine but you end up smiling- I know it doesn’t make sense- but you have to see and feel it for yourself. “Sober” was incredible as Kimberly took the lead and when they all blended together- again it is something that no other vocal band can match. “Can’t Go Back” was an “outer body experience”- I really felt I was all by myself watching them up on the stage singing what could arguably be their best recording ever- it was a feeling that I never wanted to end. Now of course, the two encores- “Tornado” and “Boondocks” brought the house down but for me encores are automatic highlights.
The band did almost every song from “Tornado” (absent “Night Owl”) and sprinkled in hits like “Shut Up Train” “Little White Church” “Bring It on Home” and “A Little More You.” Prior to doing their “Scattered, Smothered and Covered” set- LBT performed a masterful version of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. They caught me by surprise with a jaw dropping cover of John Mayer’s “Born & Raised.” The cover set was pure fun with the band putting their spin on songs by Maroon 5, Lady Gaga and Fun.
I want to thank the members of Little Big Town (including the backing band) for a night that I will never forget- this show ranks up in my top ten shows of all time. The 2012 calendar year was a special year for Little Big Town and I hope they ride this wave of recent success to the stardom levels that they deserve. They have put in their blood, sweat & tears for the past 13 years and deserve your attention. Like I have said for the past seven years, this band is the best vocal band in the world and they proved it last night in a little old town called New York City. Cheers!!!