Sugarland clears the clouds 

A live review of the country-pop act's concert on Daniel Island

Sugarland, Billy Currington

Thurs. May 21

Family Circle Cup Tennis Center

We're sure that the well-lit umbrellas pulled from a travel trunk during the opening moments of Sugarland's set are consistent stage props for this year's tour — an umbrella was painted on the drum kit as well. But it was much more symbolic on Daniel Island on Thurs. May 21 due to the silent prayers from the crowd that seemed to part the stormy skies just minutes before the popular country act took the stage.

Opening act Billy Currington was also lucky enough to get through his set during a break in the clouds. The deep-voiced, sexy-lookin' crooner largely stuck to the singles off of his three albums, including "People Are Crazy" and "Must Be Doing Something Right." He gave a slow, soulful rendition of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" that got even those unfamiliar with his music singing along. But his fans were rewarded for the detour with "Good Directions," a much more high-energy performance than you'll find on the album that sent most of the crowd to their feet.

After a brief break to switch gears — and to offer the rain a little time to pour down — Sugarland opened their solid set with a triple-shot of "It's Love," "Settlin'," and "(Shhh) It Happens." Led by singer Jennifer Nettles and guitarist Kristian Bush, the band largely stuck to their high-energy material, with one necessary exception — the Grammy-winning "Stay."

The heart of the show came from the often super-animated and playful performances from Nettles and Bush. At one point, Nettles' dancing got a little too hot and heavy, and she joked, "That kind of dancing I don't get paid for, but I'm very good at it."

The stand-out performances were those you won't find on any album. A disco-dipped version of "Everyday America," which came with a side of samples from Madonna's "Holiday," Flight of the Conchords' "Sugalumps," and the Emotions' "Best of My Love." The number was only narrowly outdone by a big-haired rendition of "Love Shack" that closed out the night. The cover of the B-52's hit was the second number by Nettles' fellow Georgians, following an earlier version of "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.

But Nettles wasn't the only one proud of her stomping grounds. With the crowd already excitedly singing along to "Who Says You Can't Go Home," the screen at the back of the stage took a quick tour around the Lowcountry, with scenes from Shem Creek, downtown, and on the Cooper River bridge sending the screams from the crowd up a few more decibels. —Greg Hambrick



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