Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Eric Church live!

| May 15, 2012

When Eric Church, sporting his trademark sunglasses finally evolved onto the stage at 9:32 on Friday night, engoulphed in a thick cloud of smoke, there was a feeling of the unknown.

Today’s big arena concerts are packed with video screens, flashy stages, and lots of razzle dazzle. Church is an old-school beer-keg-on-the-stage, smoke, some flashing lights, and fireworks kind of guy. With his liquid friend Jack Daniel’s (in the red Solo cup) hanging close by on the mic stand (94 proof, single barrel, and custom labeled for him), he proceeded to crank through 21 songs taking the packed Sears Centre crowd on a well-scripted musical rollercoaster.

He ripped through six songs before getting back to the theme of the night with “I’m Gettin’ Stoned,” and then “Jack Daniel’s” declaring “Tonight I’m drinking Jack Daniel’s/and don’t give a shit.” He’s an emotional, passion-filled singer who is relatable with his jumping around, fist-pumping, and chest-pounding to make his points. (No choreographed dance moves here.)

He stripped it down for a three-song acoustic set banging out “Two Pink Lines,” “Sinners Like Me,” and “Love Your Love The Most.” With the band back on stage and rested, he went right into chart topper “Drink In My Hand” and begged the crowd to “Give me everything you got!” He finished the main event with “Homeboy,” signed his bottle of JD for a fan, and left the same way he entered.

All this was, of course a tease for The Encore. Church has the summer anthem that has not only topped the country charts but is climbing the Rolling Stone Top 40, too. Before the much anticipated “Springsteen,” he led with “Smoke A Little Smoke” and “These Boots.” With his guitar slung over his shoulder, he pounded the ivories in an ode to The Boss, and his iconic Born In The USA album.” “This is where melodies and memories connect,” he said, telling a story about a girl who’s name can can’t remember but thinks of her every time he hears that (track one, side one) song. There were only a few lighters in the house, but the illuminated cell phones rocking back and forth should be made into his next video. Almost as if he didn’t want to leave, it turned into an eight-minute sing-along that put the finishing touch on a entertaining night.

Hard-pounding rednecks Blackberry Smoke provided some background for getting that first beer and concert T-shirt bought. Brantley Gilbert revved-up the late-arriving crowd with an eight-song set that included his hits “County Must Be Country Wide” and “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.” He may not be this year’s headliner, but with a few more songs and his deep crooners voice, he may be in Church’s spot next.

— Brian Ormiston

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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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