Friday, December 7, 2012

Review: Eric Church, Justin Moore at Verizon Arena

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Eric Church played at Verizon Arena Thursday.

It’s been a spectacular year for country-rocker Eric Church, the man many consider to be the current reincarnation of so-called outlaw country. (Think Waylon and Willie in their prime, not the country pop crossover sounds of Lady Antebellum or Rascal Flatts.)

A few weeks back his “Chief” was named Album of the Year by the Country Music Association and one night before he hit Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on the Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour, Church was nominated for a pair of Grammy awards — Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, both for the hit “Springsteen.”

So it was only natural that he was in the mood to celebrate Thursday night and the 9,607 fans in attendance at Verizon were more than ready to help him out. Church promised an unforgettable show and then proceeded to deliver just that during a rowdy, 90-minute performance that boasted loud guitars, frequent flashes of fire, a cup holder on his microphone stand for what he said was whiskey, beer kegs for the onstage décor and — best of all — the well-written, memorable songs that showcase his versatility.

With his trademark baseball cap and sunglasses in place along with a long-sleeved black henley, jeans and boots, he hit the stage, launched into “Country Music Jesus” and from there proceeded to rock the place out. After rolling through songs including “Guys Like Me” and “Over When It’s Over,” he traded his guitar for a banjo and belted out the unique “Creepin.’”

A clever and creative songwriter, Church sings his songs his way. What’s not to like about “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag,” about bar patrons regularly giving country legend Merle Haggard his due. “Love Your Love the Most” is his version of a love song, and he pushes the traditional country envelope a bit with songs like “I’m Gettin’ Stoned” and “Smoke A Little Smoke.”

Along the way, Church delighted with the slower-paced “Sinners Like Me” and later in the evening inspired a number of fans to take their boots off and wave them around during “These Boots.” Cigarette lighters and, these days, cell phones have long been on display during concerts, but the boots-in-the-air thing was a first for us.

Church closed the concert and his three-song encore with “Springsteen,” the wide-open ode to days gone by and memories that live on in a song. Easily one of the best country singles of 2012, its poignant lyrics hit the spot: “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory / Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night / Springsteen.” He added a verse from “Born to Run” in his own style, much to the crowd’s delight.

If Church is country’s new outlaw in town, he certainly had a pair of suitable singer-songwriter sidekicks with him. Kip Moore opened the show, packing solid melodies about trucks, girls and drinking into his pleasing eight-song set. A few highlights: the lively “Beer Money,” the sweet and slow “Hey Pretty Girl” and “Somethin' 'Bout A Truck,” which included something about “beer sitting on ice,” “a girl in a red sundress” and “a creek around 2 a.m.”

Next up was Arkansan Justin Moore, an authentic country singer if there ever was one. He showed where he stands on songs like “Hank It” and “Guns” and at one point, right after “Small Town USA,” he paused, knelt down and enjoyed — and seemed obviously touched by — the thunderous applause from the home-state fans, telling them “thank you for making my dream come true.”

It was nice to see Moore, who grew up at Poyen, get almost an hour on stage. His satisfying 10-song set also included the crowd favorite “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” which had those cell phones we mentioned earlier out in force lighting up the arena.

More photos after the jump.

Eric Church played at Verizon Arena Thursday.

Eric Church played at Verizon Arena Thursday.

Eric Church played at Verizon Arena Thursday.

Eric Church played at Verizon Arena Thursday.

Justin Moore at Verizon Arena

Justin Moore at Verizon Arena

Justin Moore at Verizon Arena

Justin Moore at Verizon Arena

Tags: , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Bill Paddack

  • Review: Carrie Underwood at Verizon

    This time around, always-popular country star Carrie Underwood — no stranger to Verizon Arena in North Little Rock — was surrounded.
    • Apr 29, 2016
  • Live Review: Luke Bryan at Verizon Arena

    Like the girl in his ode to a short-lived summer love, country music’s reigning Entertainer of the Year had a crowd of 13,312 Friday evening at Verizon Arena twisting all night long like that old beach “Roller Coaster": Twisting and swaying and dancing and singing along.
    • Mar 14, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Geena Davis to start film festival in Bentonville

    Actress Geena Davis announced today that she's launching a new film festival to be held in Bentonville (and called the Bentonville Film Festival) and sponsored by her own organization, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, as well as corporate partners Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, AMC Theaters and ARC Entertainment. The festival, set to be held May 5-9, will begin accepting submissions on Jan. 15 and will focus on films highlighting women and minorities in cast and crew.
    • Jan 6, 2015
  • Announcing the 2014 Arkansas Times Fiction Contest

    In our ongoing search for new ideas and quality writing, the Arkansas Times will be hosting our first-ever Fiction Contest this year. Spread the word: We're looking for short stories which, in some significant or minor way, engage the question of what it means to live in Arkansas in 2014. Winners will get a cash prize (not yet determined) and will be published as the centerpiece of our Fiction Issue this December.
    • Oct 2, 2014
  • Voices from Little Rock fast food workers at today's protest for higher wages

    Protesters at the "Fight for 15" demonstrations today in Little Rock and North Little Rock speak about why they're demanding better wages. It's a more coherent and energetic movement than many people realize.
    • Dec 4, 2014

Most Shared

  • The museum of yet to come at the University of Arkansas

    At the McMillon Family Retail Innovation and Technology Lab, students and faculty are creating a space that will give both visitors and companies a vital glimpse of the stores, products and consumer habits of the future.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation