Eric Church Leads His Outsiders at Mohegan Sun

Eric Church
The Outsiders World Tour
w/ Dwight Yoakam and Brandy Clark
October 25, 2014
Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut

I have seen Eric Church many times over the years, from small clubs and bars to him being a supporting act for other headliners.  Over that course of time I always thought he stole the show, but wondered what it would be like to see him perform at a big time venue with a stage and experience he personally planned out.  When The Outsiders World Tour passed through northern Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena, I had my answer.  He did not disappoint in the least. 

The festivities kicked off that night with a set from singer/song-writer, Brandy Clark.  I last saw Brandy in New York City’s intimate venue, The Bowery Ballroom, when she opened for Kacey Musgraves.  That night she captivated the smaller crowd with her descriptive lyrics and story telling ability.  This night was a bit different as her set did not translate to a larger scaled arena.  Most fans did not know who she was and had never heard her songs, other than the covers she selected.  Further, her stationary performance style in such a large arena lacked any energy whatsoever.  I think Brandy is very talented and hope to see her again in a smaller venue, where she really can shine.

Dwight Yoakam was next on the bill and the lack of energy that Brandy Clark had was completely different from the style he came out with.  Despite having an awful sound manager his performance was quite fun.  He had some unique dance moves and leg movements during the guitar solo’s in the midst of his hit filled set.  Dressed in the Canadian Tuxedo complete with a cowboy hat that would make Clint Eastwood proud, Dwight ran through songs such as Honky Tonk Man, Streets of Bakersfield, and even through a rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.  Dwight fought through the faulty microphone malfunctions and really put forth a solid set. 

After a slideshow of VIP and press passes from all of the unique venues Eric Church and his band have played through the years, the lights went dim and Eric appeared on stage.  Fittingly, he jumped into The Outsiders acoustically until the band joined him after the first verse.  What followed was a visually stunning spectacle of lights, smoke, and moving apparatuses on stage.  In fact, Eric’s drummer descended from the large screen above the stage, something I have never seen before at a concert. 

Eric’s setlists have never been the same in the dozen or so times I have seen him and this night had plenty of surprises as well.  Of course, the hits such as Drink In My Hand, Smoke A Little Smoke, Cold One, Homeboy, and Give Me Back My Hometown were part of the list.  But the less known album cuts  such as The World Needs a Drink (selected by a fan club member), Hungover & Hard Up, Wrecking Ball and Rollercoaster were the songs I was most excited to hear.  For some reason, its these lesser played songs that really get the intense and passionate reaction that I love to see from Eric Church.

And that intensity and passion is exactly what has created Eric into the phenomenon he is today.  He is absolutely one of the leading front men for live shows as he has such a real and true reaction from the crowd and his own music.  His band is not all that impressive, in fact, I kept wondering what a instrumentally technical song like Cold One could sound like live if a skilled band such as Zac Brown Band would put their fingers to it.  But its not the band that the fans come to see, its the man with the shades.  And halfway through his set, just before Homeboy, he put on his infamous denim trucker hat and the energy in the building noticeably changed and things got a lot more rowdy.

After telling everyone what he would do if anyone messed with his little boy in Dark Side, an enormous devil like creature appeared in the far up of the arena as he fittingly launched into Devil, Devil.  If that was not enough, he followed it up with two of his most high octane songs, Country Music Jesus and Smoke a Little Smoke.  And while most artists would have probably ended it there, to the crowd’s delight there was still another seven songs left in the set.

A staple of Eric Church concerts today and forever will be highlighted by his career defining hit, Springsteen and his unique ability to work a different Bruce Springsteen song into it each night.  I know this tour has feature the classics Thunder Road, Glory Days, Born To Run and Born in the USA.  But on this night, it was Dancing In The Dark  that got the Eric Church treatment and it launched the crowd into an absolute frenzy.  See a video clip here:

Also among the final few songs were two songs which showed a sensitive side that most do not really known Eric has.  The first was These Boots which true fans show so much love for as dozens raised their cowboy boots in the air.  Eric even signed a few after the song finished.  He ended the night with a song he described as “a song we don’t play every night but is fitting for tonight” as he performed a stirring Those I’ve Loved Along the Way which brought goose bumps to anyone who can appreciate quality music as the lyrics are not only poignant, but his vocals were the best they were all night. 

All in the all the night was exactly what I had expected: intense, passionate, visually stunning and as energetic as any performer in the music business today.  I am happy that Eric Church is finally getting the notoriety that he has deserved for so long and this World Tour should do wonders for him for years to come.  In a day of bro country and pop country, if you are not one of Eric Church’s Outsiders, you are doing it wrong. 

SETLIST:

Eric Church

  1. The Outsiders
  2. Creepin’
  3. Guys Like Me
  4. Hungover & Hard Up
  5. I’m Getting Stoned
  6. Talladega
  7. Pledge Allegiance to the Hag
  8. Drink A Little Drink
  9. The World Needs A Drink (Terri Clarke Cover, Eric Church wrote it)
  10. Sinners Like Me
  11. Cold One
  12. That’s Damn Rock and Roll
  13. Give Me Back My Hometown
  14. Homeboy
  15. Dark Side
  16. Devil, Devil
  17. Country Music Jesus
  18. Smoke a Little Smoke
  19. Wrecking Ball
  20. Rollercoaster Ride
  21. These Boots
  22. Lotta Boot Left To Fill
  23. Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
  24. Springsteen
  25. Those I’ve Loved Along The Way (ENCORE)

Video Clip – The World Needs A Drink
 


Jason Aldean’s Night Train Tour – A Review In Pictures (w/ Jake Owen, Dee Jay Silver, & Thomas Rhett)

Jason Aldean’s Night Train Tour
w/ Jake Owen, Dee Jay Silver, & Thomas Rhett
Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut
March 1, 2013

Country music mega-star, Jason Aldean, brought his Night Train Tour to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena for two sold out nights.  He is joined by Jake Owen, Dee Jay Silver, and Thomas Rhett on this leg of the tour.  I was able to attend the show Friday, March 1, 2013.  I will be doing a full review of the Tour in July at Fenway Park.   Until then, I thought I would bring you some photo’s from the explosive show. Below, you can see some of the great sights you will see on this Tour.  If you are lucky enough to score a ticket to the Night Train Tour, you will not be disappointed by any of the four great acts.  Enjoy some pictures and feel free to contact me on twitter, at @ryankentm, with any questions you may have about the show. 

 
JASON ALDEAN

 
 
 
 
JAKE OWEN

DEE JAY SILVER
 


THOMAS RHETT
 


 

 

The Full Zac Brown Band Experience at Mohegan Sun

Zac Brown Band
September 1, 2012
Mohegan Sun Arena
Uncasville, Connecticut

On Saturday, September 1, 2012, I had the privilege of having the full Zac Brown Band experience: access to the Eat & Greet, a Pit Pass, and an up close and personal look into the most talented group of musicians country music has to offer.  It started off with an orange wristband and a brief wait in the lobby the Mohegan Sun Arena.  I’ve had several meet and greets with other artists in numerous different rooms within the Arena, but this Eat & Greet experience was deep into the halls of the Arena.  We walked into a large room where several of the Band’s trucks were and saw several tables set in the form of an inside picnic. 

Each of the Band members was at the entrance ready to greet each of the lucky fans with wristband.  After shaking hands with each of them, I spotted Chef Rusty Hamlin, the Band’s head road Chef.  I had tweeted him earlier in the day and he was happy (and extremely excited) to show me each of the dishes he had prepared for us.  He explained he got all of the ingredients at a local farm, Holmberg Orchards.  He then told us to head to the bar because there was an open bar with Jack Daniels and Landshark. 

Zac Brown then gave a short speech and handed the microphone to Chef Rusty who spoke about the various food options, which included ratatouille, sweet potatoes with pecans, coleslaw, beef, pork, cornbread fritters, and more.  It was truly incredible food with an insane amount of flavors and freshness.  On top of that, each of the members moved about the tables and spent time speaking with the fans.  The access to the band, the open bar, and the amazing food made the Eat & Greet a truly remarkable experience.

I spoke to Zac about the type of guitar strings he likes to play with.  I had noticed he uses nylon strings and wanted to know why.  He spent a good deal of time really explaining it to me.  He said he grew up playing classical music and learned on those strings.  And for the style he plays, with such intensity, it is easier on his finger tips.  I also asked Clay Cook if he was going to be singing any songs that night and he said that the Band does not make up the setlist until right before they go on stage because they “want to play songs they feel like playing on that particular night”.  That explains why their setlists are completely different each night (much unlike most of the country music world who basically play the same songs each night).

I then made my way down to the Pit area as the opening act, Levi Lowery, was finishing his set.  A giant white sheet/screen covered the stage as a countdown was on to the main event.  The sheet flew up and the band wasted no time as the opening guitar intro to the title cut of their new album “Uncaged” was up first.  The stage was an enormous set, with moving cranes and lights, three huge projection screens, and the band members stationed as a cohesive unit.  When the second song played was “Toes”, we knew that the setlist that night was going to be amazing. 

Throughout the set, it was very apparent that each member of the Band is a vital and unique part.  Of course, Zac is the leader.  But, each member is unbelievably talented in their own right.  Songs like “The Wind” and “Who Knows”, which the latter of which became a fourteen minute jam out, really showcase the diversity and skill.  Each member gets their own time in the spotlight playing their respective instruments. 

I was on the left side of center, right alongside the fiddler, Jimmy De Martini, who I have often referred to as the most talented musician in country music.  If anyone wants to argue with me, bring it.  He absolutely blew my mind as well as everyone standing around me.  When he would rip into a fiddle solo, whether it was on “Devil Went Down To Georgia”, “Free” or “Sic Em On A Chicken”, mouths dropped.  He is worth the price of admission in of itself. 

The Band did a three song acoustic set, where they sat down on crates and boxes in the front of catwalk and were joined by Levi Lowrey.  I was not a huge fan of this portion as I’d rather see the Band going all out in their natural element.  But there was also something very genuine about the set.  They gave a bit of insight into what it must be like when they are creating their songs.  Still, the excitement level of the crowd seemed to die down.  But when the opening fiddle notes of “Free” started when the Band returned to the stage, there was no downtime for the rest of the night. 

The Encore began with a ten minute jam out between the Fryar and De Los Reyes.  The bongos and drums were smashed with such intensity that I could feel the vibrations from the floor up into my body.  And with true class and patriotism, the Band finished the night off with “America, The Beatiful” as a pre-lude to their signature song, “Chicken Fried”.  While most of the night was a sing-a-long, the crowd was never louder during the final megahit. 

Zac thanked the crowd and each of the members took a bow.  They exited the stage and never have I ever been so full of satisfaction from a concert experience.  Between the backstage experience and the exhilirating performance, I saw a state of class, intimacy, talent, and perfection, that not many other music acts can match, nor care to put forth.  Zac’s attention to details and his care for his fans help Zac Brown Band stand apart at the forefront of musical entertainment. 

SETLIST:

  1. Uncaged
  2. Toes
  3. Not Okay
  4. As She’s Walking Away
  5. No Hurry
  6. The Wind
  7. Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band Cover)
  8. Colder Weather
  9. Jump Right In
  10. Keep Me In Mind
  11. Wherever We Break Down (Acoustic Song with Levi Lowrey)
  12. One Day (Acoustic Song)
  13. Sweet Emotion (Acoustic Song – Aerosmith Cover)
  14. Free
  15. Into the Mystic (Van Morrison Cover)
  16. Who Knows
  17. Knee Deep
  18. Sic Em On A Chicken
  19. Sweet Annie
  20. Devil Went Down To Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band Cover)
  21. Drum Solo’s by Chris Fryar & Daniel De Los Reyes (ENCORE)
  22. Whiskey’s Gone (ENCORE)
  23. America The Beautiful (ENCORE)
  24. Chicken Fried (ENCORE)

VIDEOS:

Jump Right In
 
 
 
 
Devil Went Down To Georgia