EXAMINER.COM – Julianne Hough Live Review (Sugarland Tour)
Sugarland, Julianne Hough and the Incredible Machine Tour brought the house down
Universal Nashville label mates, Sugarland and Julianne Hough gave 6000 plus fans more than their money's worth Thursday night as they lit up the Idaho Center. This marks Sugarland's first major national headlining tour, and they proved to one and all they have everything it takes to headline arenas. Sugarland's Incredible Machine Tour, along with Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw who will both be hitting the valley this spring, is among the year's most highly anticipated country events.
From the moment Sugarland hit the stage behind a screen which partially obscures the stage, the crowd was higly enthusiastic, and with good reason. The band bounced from their "Love On The Inside" intro straight into their hits "Settlin," and "It Happens," never taking their foot off the gas for the next 85 minutes.
When the curtain dropped so did our collective jaws as we laid eyes on the unique and visually impressive stage set, that recalls elements of Time Machine, Willy Wonka and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Any attempt to describe the stage and or the outfits the band members wore would be inadequate, so see for yourselves in the fan photos below.
The Incredible Machine tour is named after their upcoming October album of the same name, and the band chose a few songs representative of their next CD (the title track, "Find The Beat" and "Wide Open" among them), which gives the listener a hint at a more pop direction than we've heard so far. And why not? Jennifer Nettles has an incredible voice, and the duo's sound should simply be called American rather than country...But back to the show.
The duo of Nettles and partner Kristian Bush, along with the other five members of their band delivered a stunning show, playing most of the band's hits, along with a few cover splices, like a mix of Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" and the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" in the middle of "Everyday America." They also closed out one of their new songs, "Find The Beat" with a bit of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
Some of the show's highlights included an acoustic perfromance of "Stay" by just the duo, and a fun and intimate half circle acoustic performance of their debut hit "Baby Girl" with the whole band. After the latter, Bush went into the crowd and gave away an autographed acoustic guitar to a child in the audience.
The band closed out their pre-encore set with Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and their own "Something More."
For their final encore the band did a cover of Blondie's, "Heart of Glass," and Julianne Hough returned to the stage to help out.
Hough did a short but tight set of material from her debut album and her forthcoming follow up. She performed her hits, "That Song in My Head" and "My Hallelujah Song" the latter of which opened her set. From her as yet unreleased sophomore effort she performed "Too Good To Be True," and the song, "Wildfire," which she claimed sort of defines who she is.
The two time Dancing With The Stars winner made sure to change up her warddrobe a couple of times during the set and showed off her trademark dance moves, uses an elevated stage, replete with a swing she could flirt with the crowd from.
Sugarland's last trip to Boise was as opening act for Brooks and Dunn, and in perhaps some ironic way, the latter have passed the torch to the former as America's reigning country duo. If there was anything to nitpick about Sugarland's show it was that it could have been a few hits longer. With only three studio CDs under their belts, it's hard to headline and leave out any of your hits. That said, they knocked the ball out of the park on this tour, and Jennifer Nettles continues to prove just how strong a performer she is.
The unsung heroes of the night were the band members who brought the music to life for both acts without stealing the spotlight. For Sugarland that was, bassist Annie Clements, guitarists Scott Patton and Thad Beaty, drummer Travis McNabb, and keyboardist Brandon Bush. The Sugarland roadcrew has to be commended for their efforts as well given the scope of the band's set.