About a third of the way through the band’s show at the Spokane Arena on Friday, Sugarland guitarist/vocalist Kristian Bush addressed the audience.
“A lot of people have asked Jennifer and I if we’ve been on vacation the last five years,” he said, referencing singer Jennifer Nettles.
The duo was in town in support of their sixth studio album, “Bigger,” bringing a close to the five-year hiatus the pair took after completing the “In Your Hands” tour in 2012.
To answer that question, Bush then performed “Trailer Hitch,” from his solo album “Southern Gravity,” before Nettles brought out a solo tune of her own, “Unlove You,” from 2016’s “Playing with Fire.”
That moment was a great reminder of just how talented Bush and Nettles are on their own, but for the rest of the night, Sugarland was front and center, performing a fun mix of tunes from pre- and post-hiatus.
As far as the pre-hiatus songs were concerned, Bush and Nettles knew what the fans were hoping to hear.
“All I Want To Do,” “Stuck Like Glue,” “Incredible Machine,” “Settlin’,” “It Happens,” “Stay,” and “Baby Girl” all made the setlist.
A quote from Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” – “All the flames and sparks of justice throughout all time reach to investigate unseen epochs – like engines whose power glides on hidden lines to upwell against the dark in distant cities unaware.” – prefaced “Incredible Machine,” and Bush’s guitar solo on during the song was fantastic.
And the duo’s playful side was alive and well on songs like “Stuck Like Glue” and “It Happens.”
Seeing as “Bigger” was released the day of the band’s Spokane show, it made sense that songs from the album made up the other half of the setlist.
Sugarland kicked off the night with the title track and went on to perform “Lean It On Back,” “Let Me Remind You,” “Bird In a Cage” and “Babe,” the newest single from “Bigger.”
Before performing “On A Roll,” another new track, Nettles asked Bush and the audience if they felt like a party.
With an interlude featuring excerpts of Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Midnight Star’s “No Parking on the Dancefloor” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” a party the song delivered.
The tracks from “Bigger,” including “Not the Only,” which was a lovely way for the band to kick off its encore, fit in with the older songs on the setlist seamlessly.
The band ended the concert on a high note, a fun cover of Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade” featuring show openers Brandy Clark and Clare Bowen, but perhaps the most poignant moment of the night came when Bush and Nettles performed “Still the Same,” from “Bigger.”
“Still the Same” was the first song Bush and Nettles wrote together after the band’s hiatus.
“In the room, in the blink and now it’s like we never went a day without it/Pick it back up where we left off/This is liftoff,” Nettles sings.
Yes, the lyrics can be interpreted as referring to a romantic relationship, but they also apply to Bush and Nettles.
No matter how much time has passed, the pair can, clearly, pick back up right where they left off.