By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England
Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut–August 30, 2018-Sugarland featuring Lindsay Ell & Frankie Ballard
Sugarland, returning from their five year hiatus, is back in the running to regain their crown as country musics top duo. Nominated for CMA 2018 awards in two categories, including Vocal Duo of the Year and Music Video of the Year, superstars Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are pulling out all the stops on the “Still The Same Tour”. The pair picked up exactly where they left off over 5 yrs ago, sounding just as remembered, they appeared on stage with all the vigor and sassiness Sugarland fans love.
Lindsay Ell started off the night with her smokey smooth vocals and playing guitar with a bluesy swagger, she performed “Wildfire”, “Champagne”, and “Mint” from her “The Project” release. Frankie Ballard followed with well known hits “Young & Crazy” and “Sunshine & Whiskey” along with a strained Bob Seger cover of “You’ll Accomp’ny Me”. He probably should have left it there but he finished with a curious cover choice of Tom Jones’s anthem “Delilah” that seemed strangely out of place.
Finally, it was time for Sugarland. Jennifer’s magnificent vocals still cover a vast range as she switches between mega hits “All I Want To Do”, “Little Miss”, and “Stuck Like Glue”. Kristian’s fun loving attitude is on full display. Smiling and goofing around with back up singers and other band members as he plays guitar and adds his vocals, occasionally taking the lead as he did on “Trailer Hitch”, a single from his solo album “Southern Gravity” made during their hiatus. Bush also has been busy working with both of tonights openers. He produced Lindsay Ell’s album “The Project”, as well as writing songs for Frankie Ballard. Jennifer Nettles hasn’t been idle either. During the separation she became a Mother, recorded 2 solo albums, and killed it staring in Broadway’s “Chicago”.
Clearly both had highly successful solo careers, but it’s the chemistry of the two Grammy Award winners playing together that creates the something special that is “Sugarland”. Playfull on stage, Jennifer and Kristian appear to be having the time of their lives while performing favorites “Incredible Machine”, “Stay”, and “Baby”.
And just to prove their versatility, the duo breaks out a quick mix of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, George Clinton’s “We Want The Funk”, Madona’s “Express Yourself”, and ending the night with Prince’s “Lets Go Crazy”
Of their reunion, Bush said “It never felt like we were finished telling our story”, and judging by the reaction of the audience, they want to hear more of what Sugarland has to say.
Sugarland Set List:
All I Want to Do
Stuck Like Glue
Lean It On Back
Tony (Patty Griffin cover)
Let Me Remind You
Medley: On A Roll/We Want The Funk/Billie Jean/Express Yourself
Bird In A Cage
Gotta Be Something More
Not The Only
Let’s Go Crazy (Prince cover)
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