There are only a handful of cities that country super-trio Lady Antebellum has never played.
Tucson is one of them.
That will change Tuesday night, when the trio takes the stage at Casino del Sol’s AVA.
And if you’ve seen them before in their numerous Phoenix stops or caught them headlining Country Thunder in 2013, you will probably be surprised.
“When people see us now that have seen us in the past, the focus is high energy, uptempo songs,” said Lady A’s Dave Haywood, who plays piano, guitar and mandolin and sings backup vocals to lead singers Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. “We literally come off stage and I feel like I’m hungry, tired and thirsty after every show. It’s an exhausting show.”
Something has gotten into the seven-time Grammy winning outfit best known for heart-choking ballads and two-hanky love songs (“Need You Know,” “Just A Kiss,” “American Honey,” “I Run to You.”). It all started last summer, when the trio took some time off the road. Haywood talked about the transformation during a phone call from Tennessee last week as the band put the finishing touches on a new album set to come out later this year.The first single, “Bartender,” was released two weeks ago.
The album is produced by Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift, Keith Urban), who Haywood said has infused the band with a new energy and mission.
“We wanted to push ourselves to a place that was maybe a little bit different and outside of our comfort zone. And Nathan is, I think, a guy who brings a different perspective,” Haywood said. “I think he’s been able to elevate our sound, honestly. He’s done a really great job of making these songs really high energy.”
Much-needed break: “It was one of the best things we could have done. It was a chance for us to hit the re-set button. … We had a couple of singles that didn’t do that great at radio and we lost a little bit of steam, and that all kind of fell when we took that time off. … I think it lit a fire under us to really want to be back on top and be back out there putting out stuff that was doing great.”
Changing the mission: “We’ve always been used to ‘Alright, here’s a ballad and it’s a five-minute ballad and I’ll just play it from the piano and we’re good.’ Now it’s back-to-back — ‘Compass,’ ‘Downtown,’ ‘Lookin’ For a Good Time,’ ‘Bartender’ — it’s just like, whoa. We’ve got a moment in our show when we run out into the crowd and get as close as we can to the lawn, which is a really fun thing to be able to do. ... And then it really makes the ballad moments special, too, when you surround them with a lot of big tempos.”
“Bartender” a hit with fans: “That song so far has been so much fun to play. We just started adding it in last weekend on the road. It’s fun.”
Big rush leads to big moments: “From the live show perspective, I feel like in the past a lot of our big moments in our show have been the mid-tempos or the ballads — ‘Need You Now’ or ‘I Run to You,’ ‘Just A Kiss.’ I honestly feel now that some of the big moments are ‘Compass,’ ‘Downtown’ and now ‘Bartender.’ ... I feel like those are going to be some of those fun moments we’re going to be pulling out for you guys.”
Finally, Lady A in Tucson: “This will be a big moment for us. I feel like we’ve toured so much through the U.S. there are not many places we haven’t (played). So this will be a big moment for all of us.”