Little Big Town at Burgettstown, PA, May 15 2011
…Little Big Town isn’t a huge mainstream act that familiar to a zillion people is beyond The Inky Jukebox’s comprehension. Oh, wait…we do actually know why. It’s because in America there is a strict rule when it comes to music: all of it must be squashed into little pigeonholes and only played exclusively on that pigeonhole’s radio station or TV channel so that only the demographic targeted by that station’s sponsors ever hear it.
Little Big Town is a 70’s throwback band who really have the chops to live up to the hype. They sound a lot like a mix between Fleetwood Mac (whom they openly acknowledge as models) and ABBA (that other quartet featuring two boys and two gals, a blonde and a brunette, who sing mesmerizing harmonies). None of them is a hardship to look at, and all of them carry their weight when it comes to delivering the vocal goods, either as leads or backups.
This year, they are touring tucked into the wing of Sugarland’s Incredible Machine tour, though they really should be headlining their own gigs. They have plenty of material to put on a two-hour show of hits, so it feels a bit like a cheat to only get them for an hour while the crowd is busy buying nachos, beer and t-shirts.
At Pittsburgh’s First Niagara Pavilion they truly had their work cut out for them, playing to a half-empty hillside of the most bedraggled rednecks you can imagine, who were only a couple of hours into a cold evening standing in the pouring rain. For those who sang along to every word, they brightened the dismal evening considerably.
Karen Fairchild’s star turn on the slow bluesy ballad “Shut Up Train” lived up to every expectation, while her partner in crime, Kimberley Schlapman rocked what looked like a pair of tight leather pants, boots and a flared jacket (very rock ‘n’ roll). The Inky Jukebox has seen Little Big Town up close and can assure you that this foursome don’t look like you and me. They look every inch the celebrities they are.
By the time they hit their first smash, “Boondocks,” with its delicious a cappella overlapping coda, the crowd had grown and joining them with raucous abandon.
Because they have collaborated so often with their pals in Sugarland, we all expected a little something-something, which came at the end of Sugarland’s encore: the catchy “Just Like A Prayer.”
Go see them and buy seats right up close.