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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Blood, Sweat, and Beers

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Courtesy of EB Media PR

 

 

 

Eric Church doesn’t just perform country music, and he doesn’t just write country music. He is saving country music. The “Chief” architect took his “Blood Sweat and Beers” tour to MA for the second time in six months, this time at UMass Amherst’s Mullins Center, and you can bet that the taps were flowing and the parking lots were loud. Between Church, Justin Moore, and Kip Moore, this show was just spectacular. Every song played was a highlight, and Church’s patented no-bull, uncompromising approach to performing (think of him as a country version of Metallica) had the arena shaking for virtually his whole set.

Church has had to pay his dues to get to this level. He recalls playing in small clubs just eighteen months ago, and supported artists such as Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, and Toby Keith before heading out on his own. His breakthrough moment was in July 2011 when his third album (“Chief”) debuted at number one on the country charts. Every single released from the album has made it to number one, giving the former indie artist the recognition to headline arenas. The Mullins Center is a huge step-up from the one-level Tsongas Arena, which Church sold out back in March.

Church took the stage to a deafening ovation in the packed arena, his signature mirrored aviators reflecting a spotlight back towards the crowd. He then proceeded to absolutely shred through 22 of some of the best live songs in all of music. There was no talking between songs or gimmicky zip lining around the arena, just music and pure intensity. A very early highlight was “Guys Like Me,” one of Church’s original hits off of his debut album. Another was an explosive version of the leadoff track from “Chief,” “Creepin’.” The loudest moment of the show was the intro of “Lotta Boot Left to Fill.” It felt as though the whole building might come down when the band started the opening riff.

Without a doubt, the best moment of the show as the main set was winding down was a three-song solo acoustic set by Church. “Like Jesus Does”,” “Sinners Like Me,” and especially “Love Your Love The Most” drew some thunderous sing-a-longs from the crowd, and Church’s vocals were outstanding.

After closing out the main set with “Homeboy,” Church began the encore and launched into a raucous and very foggy version of “Smoke A Little Smoke.” After that, Church went into “These Boots,” which is still the best thing he’s ever written (“I’ve kicked myself more time than no for the road they’ve let me down, but the damndest thing I’ve ever seen ‘em do, is walking out on you”). He then fittingly chose an eight-minute version of “Springsteen,” his wildly popular single off of “Chief,”to close things out. The song, his first career Number One hit, was a great way to end a fantastic night.

Arkansas’s Justin Moore surprised a lot of people with a fantastic and rowdy set filled with Top Ten hits. “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” was great, as was “Bait A Hook” and “Small Town USA.” The track that took the cake, however, was “I Could Kick Your Ass.” It’s almost the definition of a great live country song: easy to sing along to, raucous, and very fun. Moore got a booming ovation when he left the stage after ten very solid songs.

Eric Church’s deeply personal, frantically paced and gut-wrenching shows are definitely among the best in country music. It’s that combination of deeply honest songwriting and energetic performance that have let him grow such a following. It seems like mainstream Nashville is starting to catch on. Church was nominated for a CMA for Male Vocalist of the Year earlier this month. However you want to put it, a few things are for certain: the man’s a badass, he’s not going anywhere, and country music should watch out.