Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ain't We Pretty: Sugarland's Incredible Machine

Rainy Night in Georgia Pittsburgh

There are few things in life worth standing for several hours ankle-deep in muddy water while the heavens unleash the very best rain has to offer onto your head for, but The Inky Jukebox can assure you that seeing Sugarland live in concert (along with Little Big Town) is one of them.

Final encore of the night (at the Fox Theater)

The cold, soaked crowd heard Jennifer Nettles tell them three times that they were “pretty” (as in sounded pretty, looked pretty, or simply were just plain old pretty) but The Inky Jukebox can report with equal veracity that we were not, by any possible standard, “pretty.” We’ll give Ms. Nettles (who did actually look pretty) the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to the bright lights and raucous enthusiasm the crowd bounced the band back like a game of ping-pong, rather than suggest she has a limited vocabulary. (Since when, ever in the history of the entire world, have Pittsburghers been considered pretty? Never, that’s when.)

Sugarland came to Pittsburgh a year ago almost to the day as an earlier incarnation of the Incredible Machine tour, and delivered basically the same set, with slightly different props. This time, they wanted to present the current album in its entirety alongside essential hits, and for the most part they did just that, except for the disappointing omission of the sublime track “Shine The Light,” which Ms. Nettles sings at a piano. The Inky Jukebox is in the dark about why that wasn’t switched on.

The band’s technicians have reason to be proud of arranging some of the most crisp sound engineering The Inky Jukebox has had the pleasure to have experienced from a hundred yards away on an open hillside. Every nuance of Kristian Bush’s guitar picking and Jennifer’s ear-meltingly powerful vocals was rich and tender, and matched in clarity the high-def visuals provided by the giant circular monitor that hovered over them all, putting the ordinary jumbo screens to the sides of the stage to shame.

Eager to celebrate the first country show of the season, the capacity crowd sang along to every note, almost drowning out “Baby Girl” and “Stay,” which were stripped down to simple acoustic presentations.

The Inky Jukebox loves musicians who can recreate with slick professionalism the high level of work to be found on a CD, but there is one teeny thing we would like to gripe about, so listen up, Sugarland peeps: we guess that a good 90% of that crowd saw you last year, and can remember everything you sang and every bit of scripted stage banter you offered. Saying exactly the same "off the cuff" things this year makes us feel slightly unspecial. It’s like you’re whispering identical sweet nothings into the ears of every audience you meet, which makes us suspect you’re not being entirely sincere. Do not fall prey to the Hello Cleveland syndrome, and shell out deja-vu. We know we ain’t pretty; we’re wrapped in thin yellow plastic and barefoot and drunk, and we sing off-key. But we sing real loud and shake our broke-ass money-makers, so shine the light, y’all. Shine a light and take a look-see.

Check out some older concert footage of this great live band here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome, y'all