“We used to get a little respect/ now we're lucky if we even get/ to climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along/ and be the girl in a country song/ Yeah, yeah, yeah, baby/ Aw no, Conway and George Strait never did it this way/ back in the old days/ aw y'all, we ain't a cliché/ that ain't no way/ to treat a lady.” - Girl In A Country Song - Maddie Marlow-Tae Dye-Aaron Scherz.

It was dusk south of the Yarra bank for a gentle invasion from bush and suburbs for the return of Lady Antebellum and former Sugarland singer Kristian Bush.

Dress was smart casualty and first pick-up from the paddocks of Oklahoma and Texas was teenage duo Maddie & Tae celebrating their first U.S. #1 hit Girl In A Country Song.

Madison Kay Marlow was born in Sugar Land , Texas , and Taylor Elizabeth Tae Dye hails from Ada , Oklahoma - same hometown as Blake Shelton.

It was a nice slice of irony that they preceded Knoxville born Kristian Bush of Sugarland fame on stage tonight.

Maddie & Tae Dye met at 15 as songwriters through a vocal coach, began performing as Sweet Aliana and moved to Nashville after high school to follow their dreams.

With only two singles released off debut album Start Again , not due for release until June, it was a credit to early arrivals that some songs were familiar to them.

Not sure if Smoke and Boomerang have scored exposure here but Right Here Right Now , delivered with clout and a dash of fiddle and mandolin impacted.

They also showcased their second single Fly .

“We write all our own songs,” Maddie revealed to fans, “we're both 19 and are thrilled to be here with y'all.”

So thrilled they told the back story of another new song Sierra.

“She was a bully at school and had me crying all the time,” Maddie said as she turned her pain into a well-paid paean for future publishing royalties.

And to prove they were true working girls in a nation of high unemployment they dedicated their sole cover - 9 To 5 to “all the Dolly Parton fans” in town.

Then it was time for their mandolin driven bro-country pastiche Girl in A Country Song - humorous parody of all the tailgate trash.

“Thanks for making this our first #1 hit,” Maddie said in her introduction for the energised song - first debut single by a female duo to reach #1 since The Wreckers in 2006 with Leave the Pieces and only the second in history.

The Wreckers may be long gone as a duo but Maddie & Tae proved they had the vocal skills to deliver their tunes with support of an enthusiastic young band.

Only time and radio and TV reaction to their album will dictate longevity for the duo who kicked the dew off the plastic cups in this massive tennis court with velour curtains shielding empty seats in upper eastern extremities.


”They say this town/ the stars stay up all night/ don't know, can't see them/ for the glow of the neon lights/ and it's a long way from here/ to the place where the home fires burn/ well it's 200 miles and one left turn.” - Baby Girl - Kristian Bush, Kirsten Hall, Jennifer Nettles and Troy Bleser.

Kristian Bush bravely opened his set with an acoustic solo delivery of the evocative American Window.

The vast arena was in stark contrast to his previous tour with Sugarland at the Northcote Social Club on Beer Can Hill where the door bitch read a paper back during their concert.

Tonight Bush fronted a sextet featuring a guitar army and female mandolinist as he showcased debut solo album Southern Gravity.

They included Stuck Like Glue and Flip Flops as he joked about his Sugarland history.

“I bet a whole bunch of you had no idea I could sing,” he quipped about his time as second fiddle and harmonist to dynamic diva Jennifer Nettles who also enjoyed solo careers before and after Sugarland.

“In country music you should shake tour hips or explode your heart,” advised Bush who turned 45 on Saturday at CMC Rocks Queensland at Ipswich .

He launched into Love Or Money and first solo single Trailer Hitch as he regaled fans with the lyric “you've never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.”

Bush may have left Sugarland in his trailer but not celebration of St Patrick's Day and memories of writing debut Sugarland hit Baby Girl .

“It was the first song we wrote that got on radio,” Bush recalled of the tear-jerking road tale of an ambitious young woman who survives on the love of her parents until her Nashville dreams come true, “it was two years before it became a hit.”

The singer said his band all hailed from Atlanta , Georgia - same home state of the Lady Antebellum males - as he showcased Giving It Up and asked for directions to the closest beach for his song House On The Beach.

“In Atlanta it's nine beers and four hours to the closest beach,” he revealed as he asked how many beers he would need to walk south to our closest bayside beach.

Instead he settled for a slow dance on a chair on the floor in the audience with a lass that ignited selfie storms for his Southern Gravity album title track.

Bush also revealed that his daughter was three when he wrote his encore All I Wanna Do .

“She didn't know it was about sex back then, she's nine now and she still doesn't know so please don't tell her.”

It's unlikely that the youngest limb off that Bush will find out by reading this review at her Atlanta home.


“8 o'clock on Friday night I'm still at home/ all my girls just keep on blowing up my phone/ saying come on, he ain't worth the pain/ do what you gotta do to forget his name/ now there's only one thing left for me to do/ slip on my favourite dress and sky high leather boots/ check the mirror one last time/ and kiss the past goodbye.” - Bartender - Dave Heywood-Charley Kelley- Hillary Scott-Josh Kear.

Georgian trio Lady Antebellum emulated the 747 namesake of their sixth album when they erupted on stage with their sizzling septet.

They were here to promote it after corporate commercial radio stations belatedly discovered their music so recent singles Bartender and Long Stretch Of Love were their turbo tonking entrée.

It was a more aggressive tennis court return than when they opened for expat Australasian superstar Keith Urban on their debut tour in April, 2011.

This time they reached back to 2010 debut Need You Now for Our Kind Of Love and 2011 Own The Night for Just A Kiss , showcasing Dave Haywood on piano.

Singer Charles Kelley ignited another flood of selfies when he invaded the front balcony on the south side of the stadium for Freestyle.

Unlike the song's video there was no street dancer to upstage the trio.

Hillary Scott returned to lead vocals for debut single Love Don't Live Here, American Honey and Lie With Me .

Haywood's banjo drove Compass and Kelley cited him as the source and subject of Looking For A Good Time .

Kelly also introduced Bee Gee Barry Gibb's epic Islands in The Stream as one of the “greatest songs of all time” with Kelley playing Kenny Rogers and Hillary as Dolly.

For this generation it resonated but fans of Willie and the late Waylon and George Jones may have differed.

But that was of little moment as they did an acoustic version of recent song One Great Mystery .

Charles, brother of pop singer Josh Kelley, recalled how he and Haywood, 32, went to Nashville as songwriters in 2006.

They discovered their perfect match in Nashville native Hillary Scott - no relation of the blonde porno actress.

Scott, 29 on April 1, is the daughter of producer Lang Scott and Linda Davis who toured here in the eighties as hit duet singer for Oklahoma singing actor and TV host Reba McEntire.

“We knew she was going to be a star but we didn't dream that eight years later we would come all the way over here with her,” Kelley, 33, revealed.

“You can go into any dive in Nashville and find people more talented than us. But we have been together eight years and had 17 singles.”

It was time to introduce the band - including Hilary's drummer husband Chris Tyrell - as they were road tested on vocal prowess.

Then a medley of some of those singles - Dancin' Away with My Heart/Wanted You More/Goodbye Town and Hello World.

They introduced their hit Downtown with a humorous video of Kelley and Haywood - both raised in Augusta - clad as cops in a marked car patrolling the mean streets of Nashville for hookers.

It was not clear if Hillary was cast as one of the ladies of the Nashville night.

Then it was time for more hits - Run To You and We Owned The Night .

This was a generous finale for a tour that started a month ago in Europe so an energised encore was expected.

It included Need You Now - arguably their best song replete with its nocturnal craving for love - and a cover of Avici hit Wake Me Up .

This enabled the band to stretch out and share its talents.

Country purists may dismiss the trio as a country pop product but success and longevity is also decided by talent and these singer-songwriters have it.

Review by David Dawson

top / back to articles