What a wonderful, wet, and visual Saturday evening spent with the family seeing Sugarland in concert. When they say that the Usana Ampitheater is an outdoor rain or shine event, they aren't kidding. We drove to West Valley with ominous clouds looming in the west that turned to thunder and lightening on the horizon. As we stepped from the car it started to lightingly rain.
Yes, Dad had given the warnings before leaving that we should plan for rain. Haily wasn't concerned, as getting there as she said repeatedly, "But Dad, I am wearing a cardigan!" What we needed was full foul weather gear for what was to come. Enterring the outdoor arena for our first time we hunkered down under three blankets that would soon be fully soaked. Since it was raining hard, they delayed the start of the show for about 35 minutes... Had we known, we could have been sitting safely in our car riding the storm out, but nooooo. We sat there and became soaked through and through.
Shelly was fortunate to receive 6 tickets from her boss Sabrina and this meant that Adam, Haily, and Aaron could also get to go with one ticket to spare. He invited along "Rico" (Rian Shephard) to make it her very first date while going to BYU for just 6 days. There is a big inside joke there, but only the 6 of us present need to chuckle as we remember the setting of it playing out at the American Form In-n-Out on the ride up to the show.
As for the headline act, Jennifer Nettles has won over my heart and taken her place as my favorite female music performer of this decade. Her stage presence and it factor, even being 7 months pregnant was incredible. She just seems so genuine and of the moment. Her and Kristian Bush make an incredible duo with a strong backing band.
BUT WHY SUGARLAND? - It is a valid question to wonder why I, Michael Leavitt, would take my lovely wife, as well as Adam, Haily, and Aaron to a country/rock concert. Typically I would have not taken them, but Shelly's boss at work had six tickets and was unable to return back from dealing with out of state family issues in time for the show and she gave them to Shelly. What an incredible blessing, as Shelly knew that I loved the band and really wanted to see them live.
Here is the email I just sent off to Sabrina, her boss, thanking her for the kind gift. My email shares some more details of the concert...
Thank you so very much for the great tickets to see Sugarland. I think the heavens were saddened that you could not attend as planned, since the dews of heaven distilled upon us for over half the evening. But don't think that dampened my spirits for even a moment because Jennifer Nettles was incredible. She came out with her 7 month pregnant physique and instead of her normal 6 inch heels, she was sporting white comfortable tennis shoes. She was not quite as active, but her voice control was still something to be marveled.
Shelly probably told you that I am a big fan... I vowed to never go country but several years ago I was channel surfing and stumbled upon Sugarland paired up with Bon Jovi. Half the show was the power rocking Bon Jovi hits and the other half were rocker-upped Sugarland hits, none of which had I ever heard before. Ritchie Sambora added the rock guitar punch that offset the Kristian Bush mandolin driven country hits and from then on I was hooked by Jennifer’s stage charm.
From then on I became a fan and I watched and re-watched the Bon Jovi show dozens of times while finishing off home inspection reports. When new Sugarland CD's would come out my kids would purchase them for me as presents. A couple of years ago Sugarland was set to headline a fireworks show at the Utes stadium for the 4th of July and my oldest daughter Jessica purchased me two tickets... But wouldn't you know it, the ticket sales were slow and the show was ultimately cancelled.
This time around it was a great experience, and we owe that huge thanks to you and your kindness. Their 2012 show was called the "In Your Hands Tour" and this meant that much of the show was audience driven by way of online voting, texting and even by way of fan posters displayed throughout the show. This found them playing a song by Hall and Oates in the middle of “All I Want To Do” as well as a powerful rendition of Def Leppard's hard rocking Pour Some Sugar on Me. The majority of the Sugarland hits were played in the 2 hour show and it was so much fun. We stood on our feet the entire show and with my being 6'6" tall I had an incredible view and sang along with every number. Shelly did her best to peek through those taller ones in front of her, but that is normal life for those 5’4”.=-)
I was sad to hear about the trials you are going through with the declining health of your father and I wish upon you all of the strength that you need to endure the trial. Shelly thinks the world of you and has nothing but the highest praises for you as her boss, her employer, and her friend. As you can tell, Shelly is a very people driven person. She thrives while working in the help of others. She will do everything within her powers to both help and defend the ones she loves, and you have quickly become an individual that she loves.
Thanks again for you generosity and know that we did our best to suck the marrow out of the Sugarland event in your absence. We arrived early. We sat through a thunder and lightning filled deluge. We experienced an incredible full arched rainbow. And then we stood, danced, sang, and enjoyed the band we came to see. Thanks for the great Leavitt family memory.
I went to the Sugarland website and found the following comments regarding this particular show...
In Your Hands Salt Lake City, UT September 1
Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 10:26 PM
If you've never made a trip to Salt Lake City, UT we suggest planning one now! You'll find a beautiful city, eat some great food and most importantly meet some AWESOME Sugarland fans! Thanks for your loyalty even through the rain last night, Salt Lake. We love you!
We had some lookers in the crowd last night including a huge heap of you all wearing ponchos and cowboy hats. I think you may have started a trend! Jennifer wore her blue pants and a tight shirt showing off that cute little baby bump while Kristian sported his black cowboy hat, matching all of you!
During the song "Everyday America" we chose Casaya, age five, to hop onstage with us. She is a huge fan of Annie, our bass player, and even dressed up like her for Halloween. That made it so exciting to get her up there with all of us! Oh, and it was her birthday which made it all the more adorable.
We weren't kidding when we say the rain didn't stop you all. Last night's "Find the Beat Again" may have been the most interactive version of that song we've seen. There was endless amounts of stomping, dancing, and jumping all around.
Right before "What I'd Give" ramped up Jennifer turned to the crowd and said, "I didn't know you were so romantic, Utah!" Then Kristian took the reigns on a rocking solo midway through the song. We know they're both rockers at heart!
We had tons of great signs last night that will make our books for most creative. One requested "April Showers" and talked about how a man and his wife got married, divorced and then married again. Jennifer said "I love a good story! This is the fun part about the In Your Hands Tour. We can write a song and share a story with you, but since it is in your hands, you share a story with us! We like to learn about you too!"
Great baby gifts also came from Utah last night, even a yellow hand-stitched blanket. Jennifer will hold that one near to her heart! What a treasure! Another shirt was made that said "Nettles is my baby mama." Hilarious!
Last night was the final show for our friends Canaan Smith and Lauren Alaina. During "Stay" Canaan, Lauren, and Jason - Canaan's guitar player – came on stage and started to shave Jason's chest. This changed the lyrics to the song to "Why don't you SHAVE!" Oh how we love a good tour prank!
Our "Sing With Sugarland" winner was Brynne from Salt Lake City. She auditioned with her sister, but only she got on stage with us to sing "Baby Girl". Brynne swayed back and forth and sang the song like a true champ. At the end of it she got off and said, "Is this real? Did that just really happen?!"
We couldn't thank you enough for everything you did for us last night, Salt Lake! This is the last weekend of the tour, and we're so happy and honored to have spent one of the final nights with you all. Hopefully we'll be back the next time around!