Photos and Review by Micah Gummel
Show photos HERE
Even before Satan showed up for this show, Eric Church had already made clear at TD Garden that he will not be relegated to any box, in Nashville or elsewhere. He stated as much in the show’s opening salvo, the title track of his 2014 million-seller “The Outsiders.”
Over rock guitar riffs and guitar solos, Church sang, “It’s a different cloth that we’re cut from/We let our colors show where the numbers ain’t/with the paint where they ain’t supposed to be paint.” Meanwhile, in a stunt worthy of Mötley Crüe‘s Tommy Lee, drummer Craig Wright descended from the rafters while whaling away.
The Church band featured bearded guitarist Jeff Cease, who contributed deep-South slide guitar to “Cold One” and a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew.” Driver Williams, he of the studded, sleeveless Pantera denim jacket, earned his colors with the power riffage that concluded “Lotta Boot to Fill,”
Like Steve Earle “Copperhead Road”-era, Church has no conflict between hard rock and hard country. He is that rare artist whose resume ranges from traditional country to good old Rock and Roll, he’s fully inhabiting the can’t-miss Nashville nostalgia moment “Talladega” or the raise ’em up singalong “Drink In My Hand.”
Now back to this Satin thing.Filing the stage with low flying fog “Smoke a Little Smoke.” Or squaring off against a huge, inflatable Satan. He loomed large over Church’s show – literally, during “Devil Devil,” when a towering Horned One inflated from a spot behind the soundboard, its mouth stretched in an evil grin, eyes glowing like coals, hand outstretched as if clutching an invisible goblet. It looked like the conceptual offspring of AC/DC’s Rosie and Iron Maiden’s Eddie, and would fit in perfectly at a Slayer concert, if the band, forever an underground act, could afford such an extravagance.
So what could this investment in symbolizing mean? The silly Satan could easily symbolize how country music has evolved during the 21st century. The genre has incorporated musical and superficial elements of rock and hip-hop, so why not borrow the bombast of metal to beef up a live show? It helps that Church is a more accomplished songwriter than his new-country contemporaries; he’s not quite as popular as Jason Aldean, who also sold out Van Andel this year, and toured baseball stadiums over the summer, but Church is a more credible musician and singer, and obviously has no qualms about stepping over the line into a distinctly Spinal Tapped realm.
The show touched on all of Church’s hits and plenty of his best non-singles, hitting on tones from rowdy (“Drink In My Hand”) to reverie (“Talladega”), lust (“Like a Wrecking Ball”) to lamentation (“Give Me Back My Hometown”).
At this level, and on the strength of an album as sharp as The Outsiders, Church is arguably both the mainstream country artist of the year and the mainstream rock artist of the year and his show made a case for that blend, his name-checked hero’s including Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and of course Bruce Springsteen, namesake for Church’s biggest hit. All in all it was a great show playing over 25 songs the fans really got their monies worth. From a professional concert photographer who sees many many shows a year this one is a must see great show be sure to catch him on this tour in your area.
Guys Like Me
Can’t Take It With You
Pledge Allegiance to the Hag
Livin’ Part of Life
Like a Wrecking Ball
That’s Damn Rock & Roll
Give Me Back My Hometown
Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess of Darkness)
Country Music Jesus
Smoke a Little Smoke
Like Jesus Does
Before She Does
How ‘Bout You
The Ballad of Curtis Loew
(Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Sinners Like Me
Over When It’s Over
What I Almost Was
Raise Em Up