Charles Kelley, Josh Kelley & Friends Steer The Driver Tour to Nashville

Charles Kelley brought The Driver Tour to Nashville's 3rd & Lindsley last night (May 4), marking the second sold-out hometown show for the singer.

Charles Kelley, Josh Kelley & Friends Steer The Driver Tour to Nashville

Charles Kelley brought The Driver Tour to Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley last night (May 4), marking the second sold-out hometown show for the singer. As he explained early in the evening, it was a reunion of sorts as the venue was the first place he and his band Lady Antebellum played years ago, then opening for his brother Josh Kelley, who was also on the bill.

“Tonight is pretty special,” Kelley said two songs into his headlining set. “There’s a lot of people in this room who were pretty important to the success of Lady Antebellum. They discovered us right here in this place and like I said, that’s the main reason I wanted to play here in 3rd and Lindsley. Tonight, I’m going to play stuff off The Driver and of course I’m going to play some Lady A songs. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to get booed off this stage!”

Kelley’s 90-minute intimate set impressed. A room of friends, family and fans, he was at ease on the stage and told the stories behind the many songs he’s written both with Lady A and his own solo project, The Driver. He kicked off his set with the sultry and atmospheric “Dancing Around It” before segueing into the upbeat ’70s-esque vibe of “Your Love,” both off his debut solo-release.

The song that started the solo road for @charleskelley with friends @dierksbentley and @ericpaslay on stage tonight, “The Driver”

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He later explained that testing the waters as a solo act has been a “big discovery process,” admitting that he fell in love with the innocence of being in the music business. However, he soon realized that the industry is far from innocent. “It can get a little stressful. Making music should always be fun, it should always come from the heart,” he stressed. “When I decided to do this record I wanted to find songs that spoke to me in the way I grew up.” One of those songs that inspired him was Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents.” Kelley said he decided to cut the song as an homage to his father, who taught him the importance of having a strong work ethic. Accompanied with keyboards, Kelley’s soulful voice soared as he sang the song. Another track, the “The Only One Who Gets Me,” he said he wrote for his wife. “Being married to a traveling musician is not easy. My wife puts up with a lot of stuff,” he confessed. “I feel like there is one specific person that you’re meant to be with and I know for sure I found that one. She is the only person who can handle me and all my little quirks.” The beautiful ballad had the audience silent until Kelley then transitioned into a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” which had the crowd in a fervent sing along. “Sing it loud for Prince, come on!” Kelley urged.

Surprise performance of the heartbreakingly beautiful “Leaving Nashville” with @charleskelley and @spaceykacey #thedrivertour

A photo posted by Sounds Like Nashville (@soundslikenashville) on

While those in attendance screamed during the entirety of Lady Antebellum songs like “I Run to You,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Need You Now,” there were two moments that had the room especially attentive: guest appearances from Eric Paslay and Dierks Bentley on “The Driver,” a song that Kelley said is the reason he decided to do his solo project, and a duet with Kacey Musgraves on the poignant “Leaving Nashville.”

“You all made it a special night for me,” Kelley said during his encore, prefacing his “Leaving Nashville” performance. “This is a song for all the struggling songwriters here in Nashville. I think it’s more than just the songwriters; it’s for anybody chasing after a dream they feel passionate about. It’s those dark moments where you question and second guess if you’re making the right decision in life. It makes the highs all worth the while.”

Referencing “Leaving Nashville” and how one day you’re a king and the next you’re not, Kelley then closed the evening with a song from “when we were kings” — Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” A song that had the entire room singing word for word, Kelley proved that even as a solo act, he remains king.

Josh Kelley opened the evening with a 45-minute set that was part comedy act, part concert. Complete with pelvic thrusts, rapping features like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song and laugh out loud humor, Kelley had the audience entertained throughout his entire performance. His set incorporated fan favorites like “Amazing” and “Almost Honest” as well as several songs off his new release, New Lane Road, including the moving “Cowboy Love Song” which he wrote for his four-year-old daughter, and “It’s Your Move,” inspired after a fight with his wife.

“We used to get into the biggest fights in the beginning of our relationship,” he said of his wife. “One of them was huge, an end all kind of fight. In the middle of the fight I was so pissed off and I was like, ‘Whatever honey, it’s your move.’ And then the singer-songwriter in me goes, ‘Oh s–t, that’s a great title for a song.’ She wanted to crush me and then two weeks later I showed her the song and she loved it. I was like, ‘This is what happens when you fight honey, you make money!'”