When we look back on C2C festivals of years gone by, there is one guy’s show that stands out. Back in 2014, Dierks Bentley lit up the O2 Arena with his thoroughly energetic set, creating a whole new UK fan base in the process. People still talk about it now, it was an ‘I was there’ moment. Much to our excitement, Dierks announced a UK tour for April 2016, the first time he has returned since his O2 appearance.
Unfortunately, the Manchester show was cancelled a few weeks prior to the show. Perhaps aiming for two rather large venues was slightly ambitious. A real shame; a performer of Dierks’ calibre deserves to be selling out wherever he goes, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. However, with tickets being transferred to the London show, there were people who had travelled far and wide, and it was the real ‘die-hards’ who turned out in force to the Eventim Apollo.
The show began with a superb set from rising country newcomer Tucker Beathard, who is making waves in the US with his debut EP and single ‘Rock On’, which reached the top 30 on the country airplay chart. It’s no surprise that Tucker is being described as one of the ‘ones to watch’ for 2016 and beyond; with no band at all, just himself and a guitar, Tucker had the London crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish. Particular highlights were ‘Ride On’, a showcase for Tucker’s impressive vocal ability, and ‘God and My Guitar’, a beautifully simplistic but equally powerful electric-guitar backed ballad. He’s going to go far.
Dierks took the stage at 9pm. The show began with his fiddle player and banjo player taking centre-stage with a wonderful instrumental introduction, before Dierks and the rest of the band joined them for ‘Up On The Ridge’, a track which has always been a personal favourite to see Dierks perform live. A rocking bluegrass track which always brings the house down. Within 2 minutes, the Apollo was no longer a ‘seated’ venue, that’s for sure! Many made their way down to the front (much to the dismay of the security people!) and they were loving every second.
We were treated to all of Dierks’ big hits including ‘Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)’, ‘5-1-5-0’ and ‘I Hold On’. But we also had the opportunity to hear much of his upcoming album ‘Black’, which will be released May 27th. The first was ‘What The Hell Did I Say’, a track with an incredibly catchy which is tailor made for a live show. A tale of a drunken night out that evades the memory….there were probably a few in the Apollo who could relate to that! ‘Freedom’ followed soon after, another totally anthemic live track which the crowd embraced straight away.
‘Somewhere On A Beach’ was a highlight, and we have attached a video of this performance below. It’s pretty much the sequel to ‘Drunk On A Plane’; another crowd-pleaser that had everybody singing along. Dierks also braved a little bit of crowd-surfing! The connection Dierks has with his audiences is just phenomenal, he’s a true showman and you won’t find a better all-round performer anywhere else.
Following his performance of ‘Riser’, Dierks explained that he hadn’t performed it the night before in Dublin, much to the disappointment of fans on social media! Thankfully we were treated to a stunning performance of the track which is up there with the very best in Dierks’ repertoire. It didn’t gain the same commercial success as his other singles, but it’s one that the fans truly connect with, and we were captivated from the first note.
After a 90-minute show, Dierks returned to the stage for a 2-song encore. The first of which was ‘I’ll Be The Moon’, by far the best of the new tracks. The song was recorded as a duet with rising star Maren Morris, and the fans have clearly had it on repeat. It has only been out for a couple of weeks but everybody knew the words, much to Dierks’ amazement. The smash-hit ‘Drunk On A Plane’ concluded the show, and we can honestly say we have never experienced a louder crowd. It was absolutely rocking during the chorus, and the applause went on and on when the show had ended.
Dierks tweeted soon after that London is a “must visit for any country artist. Die-hard fans”. Hopefully some of the other big names take notice. It was a special night at the Apollo that will live long in the memory. We thought his show at C2C a couple of years ago was incredible, but this was on another level.