C2C 2016: Eric Church

P1010052We all had a ball but for most of us it was almost time to go home.

The headline act on Sundays, particularly at the revamped 3-day festival, don’t seem to get the most attentive audience. We’re not sure why it’s necessary to leave half way through a country superstar’s performance but unfortunately many hundreds did.

We were hugely looking forward to this set. Before the release of ‘Mr Misunderstood’, Church’s latest album, we would never have confessed to being fans. We all knew his big hits but had never been inspired to delve deeper.

The release of the album late last year changed all that. It was quite simply one of the best collections of music released in 2015 and a huge surprise.

Eric took to the stage and confessed that whilst he had been seriously looking forward to this gig which rounded off his European Tour, he was feeling under the weather. Most of us call in sick and stay under the duvet. Eric had to entertain 15,000 people. No pressure there then.

Happily, for us and we suspect many others, tracks from ‘Mr Misunderstood’ were the mainstay of the set.

We knew it was going to be a good night when the opening bars of ‘Knives Of New Orleans’ heralded Eric’s walk on stage. We were then treated to 100 minutes of sublime country rock. The emphasis was also very much focused on the country rather than the rock.

Church’s mainstay hit records play out very well before large arena crowds and it seems as though this is where he feels at home. ‘Drink In My Hand’, ‘Give Me Back My Hometown’ and ‘Talledega’ have been mainstays on many iPods over the last couple of years and they inspire the wonderful crowd reactions.

He performed over half of his latest album and it was a real joy hearing these tracks at a live performance.

‘Chattanooga Lucy’ with its country/blues rhythms and ‘Record Year’ were massive high spots. It was a pity that the former coincided with the beginning of the early leavers.

‘These Boots’ inspired a number of fans to throw their own boots onto the stage for them to be autographed. No doubt a tradition for Eric’s loyal followers. However, one fell into the pit in front of the stage to huge cheers. We never discovered if it was retrieved!

Despite the admission that he was feeling less than 100% we were still treated to a 19 track set.

Other highlights for were surprisingly an album track from his earlier ‘Chief’ album, ‘Jack Daniels’, which supremely showcased the quality and musicianship of his band closely followed by the iconic ‘Springsteen’. The song was performed as a mini mash-up with ‘Dancing In The Dark’ merging smoothly into the familiar drums and synths of Eric’s hit record.

He walked off the stage to the cheers of the adoring crowd remaining and returned for an encore that was somewhat unexpected. Eric has a reputation for being a maverick. Isn’t he supposed to be the “bad boy” of country music?

He clearly fosters this image with his skull symbols and references to his smoking material in quite a few of his songs. However, his choice for an encore ‘Three Year Old’ from his new album was inspired.

It recounts the lessons in life, learned from his three year son and the deep drum beats and banjos sounded magical in the O2 Arena

We absolutely loved Eric’s set. It was a very fitting end to a very special weekend.

Setlist:

Knives of New Orleans
Cold One
Creepin
Drink In My Hand
Give Me Back My Hometown
Mr Misunderstood
Talledega
That’s Damn Rock and Roll
Homeboy
Like A Wrecking Ball
Mistress Named Music
Lotta Boot Left To Fill
Chattanooga Lucy
These Boots
Record Year
Smoke A Little Smoke
Jack Daniels
Dancing In The Dark/Springsteen
Three Year Old