Ashton Shepherd, Kellie Pickler, & Sugarland Review

SLN Staff Writer • November 8, 2008 - 5:50 pm

I caught Sugarland’s “Love on the Inside” tour last night at the Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. It was my first time seeing Sugarland headline a show and I was excited!

Newcomer Ashton Shepherd was the first performer to hit the stage. I really like her current single, “Sounds So Good” and was pretty anxious to see her perform live. One thing I noticed about her last night is that she seems so REAL. She’s just a normal girl who happens to have a really great voice. I also like the fact that she is so true to her country roots. Her voice sounds very old country- very classic. She worked the stage pretty well too. She seems sweet and very down to earth.

Up next was Kellie Pickler. She is adorable. I’ve loved her from the start. She’s got such a great personality. I still don’t think she’s got the best voice in the business, but she worked it! She sang a few songs from her new album. Kellie actually opened with the song she and Taylor Swift co-wrote, “Best Days Of Your Life.” (Which is her next single!)

She seemed to really enjoy singing the new songs live. Although it’s a great song, I’m sure she’s probably sick of singing “Red High Heels,” so it must be nice to have some great new music to sing.

She still tears up a bit when she sings “I Wonder.” It must be difficult to have to be reminded of that pain every night on stage.

Time for SUGARLAND! Jennifer and Kristian opened with “It’s Love.” It’s not one of my favorite songs from Love on the Inside, but it worked pretty well as the opening song. It starts off slow then builds up faster and faster to sort of set the pace for the concert.

The lighting was very low and mysterious like, but as the song built up, it got brighter and brighter…pretty cool effect.

They then went on to sing a mix of new songs from Love on the Inside and other Sugarland hits such as “Baby Girl,” “Everyday America,” and “Something More.”

The one thing I didn’t like about the show was that it seemed so theatrical. I just want to listen to some good music ya know, leave the Broadway stuff at home or in drama class. Their coordinated dance moves and light up umbrellas were a little over the top for me.

I remember hearing Jennifer Nettles say (on multiple occasions) that she has experience with drama class, that’s awesome, but not something I care to see in a concert, but that’s just me.

When it came time to play “Genevieve,” (one of my favorite songs from Love on the Inside) the band all came out to the front- very bluegrass like. They used to do something similar in previous tours… Jen called it the “full frontal.” lol

They’re still doing what I call the “hamster” ball part of the show. Jennifer and Kristian both get in to these giant plastic balls, walk over the audience on the floor, then walk back to the stage. I guess it’s a cool concept to get closer to the crowd, but I still don’t really understand it. It’s just a bit awkward.

For final portion of the show, Sugarland brought out Kellie Pickler and Ashton Shepherd again to sing “Love Shack.” How fun! They all put on crazy wigs and rocked out.

Overall it was a great show. I love the energy Sugarland puts out, but I could do without the coordinated moves and such. Sugarland has always been great, but they’ve come a long way since I first saw them open for Kenny Chesney back in 2006.