WOW! That about covers the Sugarland concert I attended Thursday night. They were dynamic, amazing, spectacular, and pretty much any positive word you want to insert into this sentence…they lived up to it. The first time I saw or heard of Sugarland in any way was when I watched an episode of CMT’s Crossroads. I am more of a metal head but do like some country music. The reason I watched the show was to see Bon Jovi. After watching that show I was blown away by Sugarland, and especially Jennifer Nettles. Her voice was very special. It was powerful, but warm and inviting as well. From there I have heard Sugarland songs on the radio, seen videos on You Tube, but never had the treat of seeing them in person. Tonight, would be the night.
A very good crowd eagerly awaited the show to start at the Showare Center in Kent. There was definitely a buzz in the air. Sugarland had taken over five years off for various reasons and their fans had missed them. It just happened that this show was the night before their new album “Bigger”, would be released. The show featured eight songs from the new album, which is a bit of a gamble playing so many songs off a yet unreleased album. The gamble worked out perfectly. The new material was fantastic, and the crowd loved it. That right there speaks to how good Sugarland is when the new material keeps the crowd roaring in approval.
The night started off by firing right into the new album. Bigger, which is the self-titled first song off the new album opened the night. A great drum beat kicks this song off and then Nettles comes in with her great pop-country style vocals. The chorus in this song is very catchy and it proved to be a great opener to get the night off and running.
Next up was a song that hit #1 on the charts in 2008, All I Want to Do. The song really features Nettles on vocals with some light music in support. Although live the song comes off a lot more intense than on the album. That was actually quite noticeable all night. A lot of the songs off the albums are really good, but live they were magical. This is a feel-good song that really got the crowd dancing and energized for the rest of the evening.
As the night rolled on we were treated to a 22-song set, that lasted over an hour and a half by my watch. Even with all the new songs that were played, they really covered a lot of their entire career. Early in the set we got two more #1 songs, Want To and All Ready Gone. From 2004 to 2010, Sugarland had eleven top ten singles, including four that reached #2 on the country charts and five that reached #1. This is a band that can crank out massive hits all night long. It can’t be ignored how great of a writing team Nettles and the other key member of Sugarland, Kristian Bush are.
Still The Same, the first single off the new album was featured as the show continued. Nettles almost does a little rap with her vocals in this song. When I first heard this, it was great to hear her voice was still as good as it had ever been. It might even be better. Live it just engulfs the crowd. Her performance all night was quite dynamic. She was smiling and interacting with the audience during the whole concert. She can really carry a show. At times even punching along to the drum beat and at the end of one song, give a leg kick that would make some gymnasts jealous. Her energy all night was unwavering.
At one point during the night she did a little medley of hits from other artists and it was a great moment of the show. The two songs the really stuck out to me were George Clinton’s We Want the Funk and Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. She pulled off both songs gracefully and even though they had Nettles’ own touch to them, both songs were fun to hear live and quite unexpected. I love it when a band puts little touches like this into a show, and just has a good time. The whole arena let loose and was eating it up. It is a part of the show I have already talked with friends about and how cool it was.
Before an incredible stretch of songs to close the set before the encore, we got to hear Sugarland’s most recent single that is climbing the charts, Babe. This song was written by Taylor Swift and Patrick Monahan and shows how Sugarland is open to new music and ideas. The raw emotion in this song really came across live. It was almost painful to listen to, but the rawness of this song made it stand out. I should mention earlier in the set, Nettles sang her solo song Unlove You. That was another moment in the set that Nettles’ passion in the song really shone through. Both these songs really cut to your soul and were performed flawlessly.
As we came to the end of the set before the encore, we got my three favorite Sugarland songs all in a row! Stay, Baby Girl, and Something More took us to the encore with a massive finish. Honestly it gave me goose bumps hearing these songs performed together. I am not sure a country show can get any better then this. All the songs were performed perfectly, and the crowd was on their feet enjoying every second. Nettles continued to be a beacon of light on stage with her endless smiles and energy. She is as dynamic of an entertainer as anyone performing music today. She seemed to be having the time of her life.
We finally got to the encore which was Not The Only from the new album. It featured Nettles and Bush on stage with acoustic guitars. It was very intimate and all of sudden it felt like we were in a small club watching them perform, and not in a big arena. It is a very nice ballad that was really well executed. Kristian Bush also got to showcase his singing abilities during the song, which are great. After such a massive end before the encore, it was interesting to come out and slow it down at the start of the encore. The song was so good and intimate though, it worked well. Finally, the night closed with a cover of Lady Marmalade by Patti LaBelle. This kicked it back up into high gear. Nettles was sassy and sang the song with that 1970s flare that would have made LaBelle proud.
With that, the show had concluded. It had truly been a special night. I have been to around a thousand concerts and have seen all types of bands and music. This show was easily one of the best I have been to in quite a while. Sugarland puts on such an energetic show, it just blows you away. The hits just keep coming and Nettles carries the show to perfection. She was so good on this night, all I kept thinking is she could easily be an entertainer of the year award winner. She was simply that great on stage. If you’re a fan of Sugarland or country music, this is a show not to be missed. They are on quite an extensive tour, so there are still plenty of shows left to catch this tour. Do not miss it, you will regret it if you do!
Sugarland Tour Dates and Tickets HERE!