Sugarland Stir Fans’ Souls at Chicago Concert
The music of Sugarland has always been good for the soul, and for the thousands of souls that congregated within the pavilion and out on the lawn of Ravinia Festival Thursday night (Aug. 23) to catch the Chicago date of their Still the Same 2018 Tour, it was time to take a deep breath and breathe in some of that Sugarland magic once again.
“You might have thought we have been on vacation for five years…but we have not,” Kristian Bush said with a laugh during the show. “We’ve been pretty busy.”
Indeed, while Sugarland took a five-year break from recording and proceeded to spend some time nurturing some of their other interests, Thursday’s show cemented the fact that these two are at their best when standing and singing together.
Bounding out onstage in a circus-inspired outfit featuring knee-high boots, a black and white bodysuit and striking red cape, Jennifer Nettles led the way right into the 110-minute set with “Bigger,” the title song to Sugarland's sixth studio album released earlier this year. As always, her voice seemed almost effortless as it soared between past and present songs including “Incredible Machine,” “Let Me Remind You” and “Babe" — the latter minus Taylor Swift.
Despite the time spent away from each other, Nettles and Bush’s onstage camaraderie was also still the same, represented in everything from a friendly butt slap during “All I Wanna Do” and the dramatic and somewhat choreographed moves during “Want To.” Their signature vocals shone on songs including “Baby Girl,” “Something More” and especially during a rendition of “Stay.” that was nothing short of breathtaking.
Most importantly, Nettles and Bush gave everyone in attendance small nuggets of advice and insight into life in songs including “Already Gone," “Lean It on Back" and "Little Miss."
The show also had its share of social commentary, as the country duo soared during a cover of Patty Griffin’s song “Tony” highlighting the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Just as easily, they changed course with a mix of cover songs including Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” the Beatnuts’ “We Got the Funk” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” eventually concluding in an encore of Prince’s “Let's Go Crazy” alongside openers Lindsay Ell and Frankie Ballard.
While the two briefly performed cuts from their individual solo careers, the true power of this pair came through when their voices came together again as if nothing has changed, no time has passed and as if they would never part again.
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