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LBT proves more than capable

Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, Pa., February 1, 2020

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

If you have seen Little Big Town in the last decade, it could have been anywhere from a B stage at a Rib Fest to a 20,000-seat amphitheater as the opener for some of country's top acts. Their current "Nightfall" tour rightfully proves they are more than capable and well deserved being billed as a top headlining act.

While waiting for LBT, it was hard to take one's eyes off of the translucent screen set up to project images of the universe. The screen beautifully presented the silhouette of the stage setup, but it was hard to see through. No matter. The quartet walked out and stood dead center stage beneath the outline of a huge planet earth. When the screen fell, the stage lights blazed like the sun, and they introduced their signature harmonies that are as easily recognized as the Eagles and opened with "Next To You" and the title track from the new album.

After showcasing a few more songs from the album, a bedazzled Kimberly Schalpman said, "We're going to take you almost all the way through 'Nightfall,' but we've heard you on social media, and we're going to play some of the hits too: starting NOW! Come on Pittsburgh, Help us out." With that, they launched into the foot stomping "Little White Church" and "Day Drinking."

LBT is primarily lauded as a vocal group. Upon seeing them live, you can see that Phil Sweet and Jim Westbrook are capable guitarists in their rhythm roles. The 105-minute set flew by as the band seamlessly merged much of their catalog and gave a quick double shot of Elton John's "Rocket Man" and 2017's CMA song of the year, the Taylor Swift-penned "Better Man." They closed out the set by torching a version of "Boondocks."

Minnesota native Caitlyn Smith made good use of her 30 minutes and showcased songs from her astronomy-inspired two albums, "Starfire" and "Supernova" If Janis Joplin had been a soprano, she may have had a similar sound. Smith has the ability to get all the way through an octave to the highest notes without thinning out. The crowd response was deafening as she scaled the vocal ladder on "Starfire" and "East Side Restaurant." She has five top five hits as a songwriter, including the number one duet with Meghan Trainor and John Legend "Like I'm Gonna Lose You." She explained her choice of "Supernova" as her album title because of how brilliant a star gets. Ironically, it is the death of a star. This one seems to be on the rise.

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