I’m one of those rare smilers who doesn’t hate the holidays. In fact, I’m far more inclined to call it what it is – C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S – than the next reviewers. I’ve never been big on the whole decorating thing, but, otherwise, I absolutely love everything associate to ‘the silly season.’ The music. The good tidings. The gift exchanges. And Santa. Never forget about the Claus. It wouldn’t be ‘silly’ if you didn’t have the big, fat man in red doing what he does. And that’s what draws us together – families, friends, etc. – to celebrate the goodness in men and women. There’s no better way to do it than in song, and, so far as I’m concerned, there’s probably no other top group I’d love listening to these days other than Lady Antebellum. They recently did a ‘Crossroads’ performance with Stevie Nicks that was wonderful, and now they’re back bringing in holidays in song.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
If you’re a Lady Antebellum fan, then there’s probably very little need to convince you to run out and buy this terrific DVD performance of their renditions on some holiday favorites, so, if you’ll pardon me, I’ll try to fashion my comments for the uniformed. Lady Antebellum is a contemporary country group; it’s made up of Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, and Hillary Scott. I don’t know them personally – I’ve only seen them speak in interview snippets – but, based on what I’ve seen, I can tell you that these three represent the average American (albeit possibly with much more musical talent). They believe in things like family and faith. They celebrate the good things in life. They probably love all of the same things most of us are reared to love. They’re wholesome. They’re old-fashioned. They’re just regular Joes.
What they’ve done here with ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT is they’ve chosen their favorite holiday songs, and they’ve crafted versions that sound like they do on their albums. To give it that old-fashioned appeal, they’ve backed it all up with the Nashville Schermerhorn Symphony. Despite performing in a relatively large concert venue, they’ve cleverly choreographed and staged the event to give it a comfy if not intimate setting, and it’s one of the best holiday gigs I’ve ever seen.
Sure, much of that is due to the music – which includes their versions of “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “On This Winter’s Night,” “This Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” and a few others. But the bulk of it is owed to the fact that they’ve sprinkled throughout the event their own memories and reflections on their respective holiday pasts. They talk about their favorite gifts, their favorite childhood memories, and their family traditions. Essentially, it’s what each of us does wherever we are on Christmas as we gather with our loved ones; they’ve invited us in to experience some of their best moments, and it’s nothing short of a pure delight.
LADY ANTEBELLUM: ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT (LIVE) is produced by Lady A Entertainment, LLC and Eagle Rock Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled by Kayos Productions, Inc. As for the technical specifications? The performance is captured with top notch quality audio and visual – the group’s harmonies have rarely sounded this captivating, and their stage is designed with the crisp, cool hues that complement the holiday season. Also, there’s a handful of special features, including some acoustic versions of five numbers, a Christmas video, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and even a ‘making of’ short (it really plays out more like a bloated commercial, but that’s harmless).
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Thank goodness for the holidays; they’re the last true bastion of the very best the American family has to offer. And, while I’m at it, let me say thanks to Lady Antebellum for getting together and performing ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT. It’s a wonderfully idyllic snapshot of happy people, happy times, and even happier music. Their selections are beautiful; their shared memories are the stuff holiday traditions are made of; and it’s all wrapped up in a bow with some beautiful sights and sounds. Watch this one with someone you love … or, at least, with someone who loves the rich harmonies of Lady Antebellum as much as I do.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Kayos Productions, Inc. provided me with a DVD copy of LADY ANTEBELLUM: ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT (LIVE) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.