Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley of the group Lady Antebellum point out to the crowed during the performance of the song "Stars Tonight" in front of thousands of fans at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth on Friday.
DULUTH -- With a sold-out show, thousands of Lady Antebellum fans traveled from all over to see the Grammy award-winning group, including Tracey Frank of West Long Branch, N.J. She flew down to Duluth to see the concert with her sister.
"We bought our tickets back in December just because we wanted to go," Tara Taylor of Woodstock said. "My sister came down to see the show with me."
Although the two were there initially to see the headliner, Lady A, they were thrilled after watching Darius Rucker take the stage.
"Darius Rucker was amazing," Taylor said.
Frank added, "We saw him back when he was Hootie, way back in the day. I won't even tell you what year that was."
They weren't the only ones who loved Rucker's show.
"Darius was awesome," said Jay Vecsey of Canton, who bought Lady A tickets for his wife at Christmas. "He should go on tour by himself."
The former frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish had the crowd on their feet for most of his set. He sang from his country albums, including songs "Southern State of Mind," "Come Back Song" and "Don't Think I Don't Think About It."
But he also snuck in a few Hootie hits from the '90s, like "Only Wanna Be With You" and "Hold My Hand," and covers songs, "Purple Rain" by Prince, "Joker" by Steve Miller Band and "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams Jr.
When Rucker and his group, the Carolina Grey Boys, left the stage, the crowd boogied down to L.A.D.P. -- Lady Antebellum's Dance Party.
When Lady Antebellum took the stage, they opened with "We Owned the Night," which had the audience screaming. They segued into "Stars Tonight" and "Our Kind of Love."
Before going any further with the music, lead vocalist Charles Kelley made sure that everyone knew that he and guitarist Dave Haywood were Georgia boys, who attended the University of Georgia. This was a hit in the arena.
"It's great to be back in the ATL and sell out the place," Kelley said on stage, then the group went into "Love This Pain."
"(Lady A) is going to be great," Beth Salzman of Atlanta said earlier. "I think they're a very professional group and their songs are very meaningful, really good. (People) would be surprised how many songs they actually know."
Thompson Square opened the concert.