The Band Perry to headline Feb. 20 concert at BMO Harris Bank Center

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A family band that goes from playing clubs to headlining arenas inside three years as one of the biggest names in music happens every so often in the entertainment business.

For The Band Perry, the feat came with three No. 1 singles, two Country Music Awards (CMA) awards and two top honors from the Academy of County Music (ACM). Yet, the three siblings didn’t appear to be an out-of-the-gate sensation.

When “Hip To My Heart” barely cracked the Top 20, the trio appeared to be just another crossover act clawing to be the next Lady Antebellum. That was before the Kimberly Perry-penned No. 1 “If I Die Young” left Bob Doyle (Garth Brooks’ manager) and millions of fans little doubt that they discovered something worth hearing. And hear fans did, propelling The Band Perry to No. 2 and the group to a pair of 2010 CMAs for Top New Vocal Duo or Group and Top New Artist.

Two ACMs for Single of the Year and Song of the Year (“If I Die Young”) followed, along with six consecutive Top 10 singles — including the second No. 1, “All Your Life.”

The sophomore release, Pioneer, quickly spawned “Postcard from Paris” (No. 6, U.S. Country) while “Better Dig Two” became The Band Perry’s third chart-topper. The album also created the wave that is the We Are Pioneers World Tour — the band’s first as a headliner.

When The Band Perry hits Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center with Easton Corbin and Lindsay Ell Thursday, Feb. 20, even fans familiar with their live show will see something new. Gone are the days of shortened supporting sets. Here to stay is a show the Perrys say encapsulates what brought them from a simple Tennessee beginning to the world stage.

For those who don’t know about The Band Perry or have never seen us, we love country music,” Neil Perry (guitar, mandolin, drums, backing vocals) said. “Our mom played Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, and our dad was our rock influence. He played stuff like the Rolling Stones and Queen. So, in our show, you’ll also see elements of a sweaty rock and roll show. It’s about high energy, but we also bring it down on songs like ‘If I Die Young.’ There’s something for everyone. We wear our hearts on our sleeve.”

Including something for everyone comes with the freedom only a headliner can understand and muster for a successful tour.

There’s a big difference in headlining,” Reid Perry (bass/backing vocals) said. “We get to control what goes into the show now. We get to rearrange the set lists and invite our friends out with us. We can really do what we want.”

Bands with hit records often find themselves at the mercy of their music. Audiences buy tickets to hear the hits. Sprinkling in new material or reworked versions of popular songs can have artists grabbing at straws to keep shows interesting on stage and in the crowd. For Reid, creating hit songs has been as organic as it is lucrative.

When we see a record climbing the charts and the crowd singing along to it, we start hearing how our stories become part of theirs,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”

And judging by how The Band Perry regards fans in the Midwest, Reid, Neil and Kimberly will have plenty of energy to share in Rockford.

The Midwest is one of our favorite regions to play,” Reid said. “The people there really know how to listen to music. In some places, they listen and clap after the songs are over. It’s really great to see people with their hands in the air throughout the show. The Midwest is really our sweet spot.”

Tickets for the Feb. 20 show are available at the BMO Harris Bank Center box office and Ticketmaster. Show time is 7:30 p.m.

From the Feb. 12-18, 2014, issue

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