LBT’s “Tornado” Blows Through Four Winds Casino: Michigan, March 8

With the sound of lightning and thunder heralding their arrival to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Mich., the members of Little Big Town took the stage as headliners Friday night (March 8), ready to prove why they are the hottest country vocal group on the planet right now.

“Thank you for giving us the best year of our lives,” exclaimed Kimberly Schlapman, her Southern drawl delighting the 1,600-plus crowd of Northerners. “Y'all sure love some motorboatin’.” And while their massive hit “Pontoon” did indeed serve as an undeniable crowd favorite, along with “Little White Church” and “Boondocks," LBT seemed to flourish in the theatrical and emotional moments created by the night’s intimate venue. Luscious pauses created moments of utter silence that seemed to make each and every ballad stronger than the rest. On no song was this more effective than “Shut Up Train," a track from 2010's The Reason Why that has lost its emotion in the past in bigger, arena-type settings. Yet here, it drew tears from many in the crowd.

With four spotlights engulfing the members' every move, the 90-minute set shined light on Little Big Town's undeniable harmonies. Yet the crowd also seemed to love watching as each singer shined in his or her own right. Philip Sweet’s sweet tone on “Bring It On Home” and Kimberly’s charming vocals on “Sober” reminded the crowd of the individual talents of each vocalist. Perhaps the most emotional and downright theatrical moment of the evening was Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook’s duet of the group’s upcoming single, “Your Side of the Bed," in which the palpable anger between the two lovers made everyone in attendance seemingly forget that the three minutes was simply an act.

Just a few short songs later, Karen’s wicked eyes and seductive vocals returned on “Tornado," where she reminded all in attendance that a Stevie Nicks-inspired fringed coat can make any song more badass. “God bless you . . . and thank you for letting us do this for you,” Kimberly shouted out, as high-fives ensued and guitar picks were flung in the air at the conclusion of the show. Nah, Little Big Town . . . thank you.

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