Toby Keith’s Locked & Loaded Tour
Featuring Eric Church
PNC Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey
September 2, 2011
Simply stated, there is no concert like a Toby Keith concert. At one point of my life, country music was not my preferred genre of music. That was, until I heard a few Toby songs. Soon after I bought tickets to my first concert of his. Since then I have seen him a total of 23 times. September 2, 2011 was the 23rd time and it was as good as it once was.
Through his fan club, I was able to win a meet and greet with the rising star, Eric Church. I got into the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ when doors opened and proceeded to the backstage area. My sister and I have noticed that Eric is not big on smiling so when it was my turn to meet him, I told him that I had a bet going with her that he would not smile in the picture with me. As you can see, I won that bet. Eric was humble and gracious and we spoke for a minute or so and I was off to my seat.
We had 15th row center floor seats, which had a perfect view of the stage. Eric came out on stage when the sun was just going down – and he was off and running. Eric Church’s live performances are full of energy – but a different type of energy. He is not the Kenny Chesney type who runs around the stage and is not like Tim McGraw who slowly walks around the stage with a swagger. Instead, he stands at the microphone, signing with incredible passion, and constantly pounds his chest, yells at the crowd, pours beers on himself. He truly has an unique and effective way of getting the crowd ridiculously pumped.
His set was a great mixture of his three albums. It was highlighted by the songs of his new album, Cheif. Songs such as “Drink In My Hand” and “Homeboy” had the crowd signing and dancing along. The tune, “Springsteen” was perfect for the New Jersey crowd who returned the favor with chants of what you would hear at an actual Springsteen show: “Bruuuuuuuuce”.
Eric also sang a great cover of the Hank Williams Jr. classic “Country Boy Can Survive”. The true country fans in the audience sang along word for word, pumping their chests along with Eric. He showed off his banjo skills on the new song “Creepin'”, dabbled in songs that made the ladies happy (“Love Your Love the Most”, “Hell On the Heart”) and ended his set at an energetic high with smoke blasts from behind the stage to one of Eric’s biggest hits, “Smoke a Little Smoke”.
All in all, out of the 23 times I have seen a Toby Keith tour, I think Eric Church has been the best opening act (and that includes the likes of Trace Adkins, Miranda Lambert, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, and Joe Nicols, to name a few). He fits in with Toby’s style of music and really gets the energy level high and ready for the Big Dog Daddy to hit the stage.
Toby’s set began as it always does, with a short five minute Ford F-150 commercial. Usually they are pretty humorous, but this year’s was over the top cheesy. This was probably the only part of Toby’s set that I did not enjoy, luckily it was only a few minutes long and the Big Dog hit the stage. He came out to “Bullets In Gun” and never looked back.
The crowd was treated to Toby’s newest single, “Made In America” which has already hit the top 10 on the Mediabase and Billboard charts after only being out on country radio for a few weeks. I have absolutely loved this song since he debuted it at the CMT Awards a few months ago. With all the bravado and swagger that one would expect from Toby Keith, he executed this hit to perfection complete with fire blasts, salutes to the crowd, and his voice hitting the high notes flawlessly.
One thing every fan who comes to a Toby Keith concert knows is you are going to hear the hits. Toby prides himself on singing the songs people know and love. And he has plenty to choose from – “I Love This Bar”, “As Good As I Once Was”, “How Do You Like Me Now” and “Wanna Talk About Me” were all incorporated into the set. However, Toby sang a song that I have never heard him do live before and it absolutely blew me away: “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You”. His voice thundered through the warm Jersey night to this love song as his deep voice masterfully executed notes both high and low. He had to impress everyone that night as I was left with goosebumps when he finished the song.
For anyone who has not been to a Toby Keith show, the show is a big mixture of party songs, Patriotic Anthems, and good old country songs. There is not letdown and Toby incorporates his great sense of humor into the videos on the big screen as well as a plethora of pyrotechnics that would make Kiss want to go country.
He really shines when he addresses the crowd to salute to all the people who put their lives on the line for us before “Beer For My Horses”. He even gets the crowds laughing during humorous tunes such as “Weed With Willie” and “Get Out of My Car”. Both songs have lyrics dealing with sex and drugs, which mostly every other country singer stays away from in their song content. But, as Toby sees it – its all in good fun so just “sing along if you don’t think you are too cool”.
Toby’s band was really showcased on this night as he let the trumpet and horn section take the front of the stage on numerous songs, such as “God Love Her” and “Who’s Your Daddy”. He even let his backup singer, Mica Roberts, belt out a cover of “Lady Marmalade” which suprisingly fit in well in the middle of the bombastic set.
Of course, the highlight of a Toby Keith show, for any true fan of his, is the encore. In my opinion, I think Toby has the best encore in music today, no matter what genre. After a few minutes of the lights being out and the sold out amplitheatre shouting out deafening chants of “USA, USA…” and “Toby, Toby …” he comes out to sing the emotional ode to our military, “American Soldier”. On this night, he changed the words up a bit and sang the song with the words “American Warrior”. He then gets an American Flag Guitar and dominates the stage to his most infamous song “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue”.
If you are a fan of Toby, like I am, you absolutely love this song. If you do not like him for whatever reason, you probably despise it. But on that night, the 18,000 people in New Jersey all collectively pumped their fist in the air when Toby dropped the line “put a boot in your ass its the American way”. He brought out the friends and family of a fallen Navy Seal for the encore which really pumped even more patriotism into the amplitheatre. Complete with more pyro M-80 blasts and a rain of red, white, and blue confetti, the crowd was treated to a show unlike any other.
I thought both Eric Church and Toby Keith brought their A games on this night and, as always, made it one of the best tours of the year. I cannot wait to see it all over again in two weeks in Hartford, Connecticut. Stay tuned …..
TOBY KEITH SETLIST
1) Bullets In The Gun
2) Just Talkin Bout Tonight
3) Made In America
4) American Ride
5) Whiskey Girl
6) Wanna Talk About Me
7) God Love Her
8) Get Drunk And Be Somebody
9) Blue Moon
10) Somewhere Else
11) Who’s Your Daddy
12) Good As I Once Was
13) I Love This Bar
14) Should Of Been Cowboy
15) Weed With Willie
16) Get Outta My Car
17) Beer For My Horses
18) How Do You Like Me Now
19) Little Less Talk
20) American Soldier (Remix: American Warrior)
21) Courtesy of the Red White and Blue
ERIC CHURCH SETLIST:
1) Before She Does
2) How Bout You
3) Hell On The Heart
4) Sinners Like Me
5) Drink In My Hand
6) Guys Like Me
8) Getting Stoned
9) Love Your Love The Most
10) Lotta Boot
12) Keep On
13) Country Boy Can Survie (Hank Williams Jr. Cover)
14) Smoke A Little Smoke
I just caught word that Toby Keith has been busy writing songs on his current “Locked & Loaded” Tour. While this is nothing new for the songwriter, what is newsworthy is that his opening act, Eric Church, has been sitting in on these occasional writing sessions.
“We wrote a couple songs together, and they’re great songs,” Eric enthusiastically tells CountryWeekly.com. “We’ve been threatening to do it for a while and it’s a neat thing to just pop up on his bus and write. It’s been fun to get to know him a bit.”
Both artists have the reputation of doing things “their own way”. This does not always mean doing it the way country radio or Nashville would like them to. From putting a “boot in their ass” to “smoke a little smoke” both artists have a passion and a dedication to writing, performing, and not caring what the critics say. Recently, Eric Church, who just released his third album entitled “Cheif”, experienced life at the top of the Billboard All-Genre Albums Chart, something Toby has achieved countless times.
Eric has also mentioned that he and Toby have plans to write even more songs and that one of the two plan on releasing the songs on an upcoming album. “I’d love to,” Eric said, “[o]r Toby will.”
Further, I have caught wind that Toby Keith will be releasing a new song to country radio soon, entitled “Red Solo Cup”. Apparently, the comedian, Carrot Top , tweeted that he was contacted by Toby about being in the video. I have also heard that the video was shot this past week in Nashville.
Carrot Top reported via Twitter that Toby Keith played him this new song and stated “He (Toby Keith) said it might be ‘the most absurd song I’ve recorded,’ ”. Besides Carrot Top, Toby has invited big names, including former President George W. Bush and actor Jack Nicholson, to be in the video.
This news comes on the eve of my attendance of a Locked & Loaded Tour stop. I will be reporting back on tomorrow night’s show.
Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour
Gillette Stadium – August 27, 2011
Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, & Uncle Kracker
Final Night of the Tour
As most of the East Coast prepared for Hurricane Irene, 59,000 country music fans in Foxboro, Massachusetts, decided to hold off on dealing with the impending disaster. Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, hosted the final night of Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour. While some of the show featured all out down-pours, the majority of the night, including all of Chesney’s set, was rain free.
After spending a few hours at the fun and impressive Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, which is located right next door to Gillette Stadium, we walked into the field level as Billy Currington was singing. Billy sang the same set as I had seen a few weeks earlier at The New Meadowlands Stadium. Billy has a ways to go with the energy and showmanship in his live performances, but his voice and songs carry him enough that he is still enjoyable. Although I do not see him headlining a tour anytime soon, he was a good warm-up for the two powerhouses which followed.
Zac Brown Band hit on all cylinders Saturday night. I have seen them live several times and this was, indeed, one of their finest. While Billy Currington and Kenny Chesney sang almost identicle sets from the previous shows, Zac Brown and his Band switched things up totally. Yes, the hits such as “Toes”, “Highway 20 Ride”, “Free”, “Colder Weather”, and “Chicken Fried were played, but they also incorporated other cuts that were not released as single, but the fans knew nonetheless. As the rain stormed down on the crowd, Zac bolted out “Jolene” with such passion and pain, that no one seemed to care about the weather.
Zac sang a new tune called “Sweet Anne” that seems to be destined for country radio supremacy. And of course, Jimmy DeMartini, who I consider to be the best non-vocal musician in all of country music, shined on his multiple fiddle solo’s. The Zac Brown Band’s cover of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgie” is even better than the original. Jimmy’s fiddle skills are particularly on display when the band does that song live. The speed that his arm and wrist move at is absolutely remarkable.
What is very different from most bands is that although Zac Brown is clearly the leader and face of the Band, he lets his bandmates get their “shine on” as well. For example, on this night, Zac let Clay Cook take the vocals on “Can’t See You Tonight”. Clay’s vocals could be lead for any other band in the land and as the rain came down at its hardest of the night while he sang this song (originally recorded by Zac with Kid Rock), the crowd could truly appreciate how talented this whole band really is.
The Zac Brown Band closed out their set as they always do, with “America The Beautiful” mixed as an intro into the band’s first, and biggest hit, “Chicken Fried”. After ZBB finished doing their thing I thought to myself: wow, they were so good I almost forgot they were not the headliner of the show and Kenny Chesney is yet to come. In fact, at least two times during their set, Zac Brown made it known to the crowd the Band is motivated to become one of the biggest acts in country music as he boldy stated “we want to come back here and play for ya’ll as a headliner” and “we will be back”. I absolutely believe him – this Band is the real deal Holyfield.
To everyone’s delight the rain subsided before Chesney flew into the Stadium as there were only brief spells of drizzle during his set. Chesney entered the Stadium as he has continously done over the past few years, on a flying apparatus extended high by cables above the floor section. He sang the entire song “Live A Little” while flying as if he was in Cirque de Soleil.
Kenny did basically the same set as he did at the New Meadowlands Stadium. He did throw in the song “She’s From Boston” and the New England Crowd graciously appreciated the hometown love. However, Chesney was extra emotional and animated. He normally is very active on stage, but this night, being the final Tour stop, he seemed to full of smiles more than most.
Chesney, for me, really shines on two songs: “I Go Back” and “Anything But Mine”. They are the type of songs when you hear them live at his show, they are ten times better than the radio version. The crowd sings back to him in unison with such precision and he responds to a tee.
At one point, CMA Chief Executive Officer Steve Moore came out on stage and presented the inaugural CMA Touring Musician Award to Chesney’s keyboard player Wyatt Beard. Chesney said he had hired Beard ten minutes before leaving for a tour several years ago and he seemed proud to give the trophy to his bandmate – and they shared an emotional embrace.
Chesney brought out tour-mates Uncle Kracker and Billy Currington to help him sing some of his biggest hits. Uncle Kracker sang “When The Sun Goes Down” and did a cover of Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” while Currington came out for the second half of the song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”.
Kenny sang “Boys Of Fall” to end his set and stated how proud he was to sing that particular song in a Stadium where so much history had been made. In expected fashion, he had images of Tom Brady and various other New England Patriots on the big screen, resulting in an uproar from the crowd.
The best part of the night was the ending when Chesney brought out the Zac Brown Band for a medley of songs. It is obvious that Chesney and Zac have become very good friends on the Tour. Chesney even told the crowd that Zac had set up a party the night before in which he and both members of the Bands sat around and played acoustic songs until 2 a.m. together. The both signed the boots Kenny was wearing during his set (during the encore he performed in bare feet with mesh shorts and a baseball cap, instead of his normal boots, jeans, and cowboy hat).
Zac and Kenny traded vocals on various covers – including Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”, Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old”, a few Bob Marley songs (in which Zac showcased his reggae skills), Sublime’s “Caress Me Down” and Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”. As helped each other out on their own singles “Knee Deep” and “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”. At one point, Kenny’s tourmates dumped a cooler of ice water on him. He had to take of his shirt (in which the women around me went crazy for) and put on a sleeveless Highway 20 Ride Zac Brown Band t-shirt.
Zac Brown and his band dominated the encore when they shocked the crowd and started doing some Hip-Hop songs including Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. If you thought ZBB was talented before, their medley of three hip hop songs made that even more evident. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out with a country-hop song in the near future, that’s how strong Zac’s flow was. Even Zac’s security guard, Mastiff, came out to rap on the final song.
The show was overall better than the one I saw at New Meadowlands Stadium and had much more energy. Chesney seemed to hug and show love to each member of his own band, the Zac Brown Band, and each of his stage-hands and tourmates. All 59,000 people in that wet Stadium could see two things were very evident that night: (1) It is easy to see why Kenny Chesney is considered one of the best live performers in all of music today and (2) the Zac Brown Band is well on its way to be placed in that same league.
Also, one final note – I have heard horror stories about the traffic getting into and out of Gillette Stadium. Even though the show was clearly sold out, I sat in about two minutes worth of traffic total. I’m guessing the credit should go to the Police of Foxboro, MA because it was clear sailing both in and out (for me at least).
Kenny Chesney – “You & Tequila”
Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour
New Meadowlands Stadium
August 13, 2011
with Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, & Uncle Kracker
On August 13, 2011, Kenny Chesney brought his Goin’ Coastal Tour to New Jersey. This show was special for a great number of reasons. First off, Kenny is one of the few artists of ANY genre of music that can fill Stadiums up across the country and this was no exception. That steamy Saturday in East Rutherford, New Jersey a record breaking crowd was on hand to see the country crooner and his large list of guests. This particular show sold just over 55,000 tickets. Not since country legends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard came around in 1983 had a country concert in New Jersey sold over 50,000 tickets. This show passed that show’s number in attendance. Sure Kenny is one of the best in the business today, but having the Grammy Award Winning and multi-talented Zac Brown Band on the bill with him sure helped with sales quite a bit. Throw in Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker as openers and this made the Goin’ Coastal Tour the must see tour of the summer.
Uncle Kracker and Billy Currington opened up their shorter sets with lots of familiar music. Uncle Kracker did his biggest hits such as “Follow Me” and “Smile” and stole some material from his old touring buddy, Kid Rock, as well as Kenny Rogers.
Billy Currington proved to be a crowd favorite with lots of summer drinking music such as “People Are Crazy” and “Pretty Good At Drinking Beer”. Billy used the stage and the catwalk in a slow walk, but the crowd really responded to his easy-going music. He closed out his set with “Good Directions”, a huge hit that was co-penned by Luke Bryan – and the crowd sang along with every word. By the time Billy was finishing up his set, I looked up from the floor to the 3 tiers of sections in the New Meadowlands Stadium and the place was absolutely packed.
I overheard many people who were tailgating in the parking lot state they were more excited to see the Zac Brown Band than the opener and for good reason. This band has released 8 singles to country radio and all of them have hit number 1 on the mediabase and billboard country charts. Zac Brown, naturally, is the lead singer and captain of the band. However, he makes sure that the crowd knows this is not a front man act – that they are whole band. And the entire band had their own time to shine on this day. Zac belted out his amazing vocals and intense guitar playing skills on hits like “Toes”, “As She’s Walking Away” and “Highway 20 Ride”. Jimmy DeMartini, the fiddle player/violinst, absolutely memorized the crowd with his ridiculous talent. He had tons of solos such as “Quite Your Mind” and “Free” and even used his fingers on the fiddle on “Where the Boat Leaves From”. People were shaking their heads with their jaws dropped when the spotlight was on Jimmy.
Even members like Clay Cook and Coy Bowles got their “rock star” moments on the song “Who Knows” which is essentially a ten minute jam out song with two minutes of vocals. The drummer, Chris Fryar, changed his clothes halfway through the band’s set from a New York Jets jersey to a New York Giants jersey – which made fans of both teams smile in admiration. Finally, John Driskell got to add some vocals on “It’s not Okay” and had the crowd dancing and laughing at the lyrics.
The band had a large group of the United States military come to the front of the stage before the song “Free” and they stayed throughout the final songs which happened to be a mash-up of “America, The Beautiful” and the band’s biggest single to date, “Chicken Fried”.
The Zac Brown Band oozes with talent, passion, emotional and unbelievable music ability. This band will be around for a very, very long time – and will be headlining their own Stadium Tour sometime soon, mark my word.
After a brief delay, the rain started to fall and the crowds retreated for cover and beer refills. But, when the lights went dark, the crowds ran to their seats – not even caring it was still raining. And the stage curtains raised, but Kenny Chesney appeared on a raised swing in the back of the Stadium, floating above the 55,000 cheering fans. He sang the entire first song, a recent number 1 single, “Live A Little” while flying above the crowd.
Once he landed, he was off and running, literally. The man used every inch of the massive catalk and stage. The lights went crazy in every direction and the huge interactive screens portrayed Kenny in different sides and angles throughout the concert. Kenny smashed through his hits and recents songs off his newest album, “Hemmingway’s Whiskey”.
Kenny Chesney is the penultimiate performer and he really showed it this night. From his acoustic takes on “You and Tequila” to his giant hits like “I Go Back” and “Keg in the Closet”, Kenny had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He cranked out hit after hit after hit, each song performed with just as much energy as the one before.
Kenny brought out all of his opening acts for certain select songs and covers. He of course performed “When the Sun Goes Down” with Uncle Kracker, which is one of the best summer concert songs anyone has ever written. He kept Kracker on stage for their take on The Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider” and even did their best hip-hop/country mash-up to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”.
Kenny then surprised the crowd and absolutely shocked me, when he changed genres up completely and sang “Blister in the Sun”, a Violent Femmes Cover. For this, he even brought the original songwriter of the song, Mark Tamburino, out for the song.
Once the Encore came, Kenny ripped right into “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and brought out Billy Currington for some help. Unbelievably, the best part of the night was yet to come:
At this point of the show, Kenny brought out the Zac Brown Band as they teamed up with Chesney and his band during eight unbelievable songs. Zac and Kenny took to the front and sang two of the famous country band, Alabama’s biggest hits: “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”. They teamed up for each other’s “summery” singles “Knee Deep” and “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”.
Then for good measure they brought up the New York Yankees’ slugger Nick Swish to help them sing “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. Any fan of baseball knows how much a swagger and overall enthusiasm Nick Swisher has and he was full of smiles and fist pumped on stage.
Zac and Kenny and their bands finished things out with a Bob Marley, Sublime and Tom Petty Cover. They even brought ZBB-protege Sonia Leigh, the New York Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, Kenny’s mother, and others on stage to help sing and finish the party out.
Overall, the show was long (almost six and a half hours of music), but never slowed down. Zac and Kenny electrified the crowd and all 55K went home happy – tired and very happy. If there was any indication that country music was alive and well in the Garden State, you just had to look at the parking lot that became the New Jersey turnpike. But despite the traffic and rain that night, you could tell that everyone walked away satisfied. There are only a few more dates left on this tour and I am attending one again at the end of August – I would suggest any and all to check it out.
Kenny Chesney Setlist:
- Live a Little
Beer In Mexico
The Woman With You
I Go Back
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem
Anything But Mine
There Goes My Life
You and Tequila
Living In Fast Forward
Happy Birthday to Ken (Chesney’s road manager)
Somewhere With You
Don’t Happen Twice
Never Wanted Nothing More
Out Last Night
When the Sun Goes Down with Uncle Kracker
Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band Cover
Cowboy – Kid Rock Cover with Uncle Kracer
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes Cover with the songwriter Mark Tamburino
How Forever Feels
The Boys of Fall
She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy with Billy Currington
Dixieland Delight – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
If You’re Gonna Play in Texas – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
Knee Deep – with the Zac Brown Band
Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven – with Zac Brown Band
The Joker – Steve Miller Band cover with … moreZac Brown Band and appearance on-stage by Nick Swisher of New York Yankees
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley Cover with Zac Brown Band
Caress Me Down – Sublime Cover with Zac Brown Band
Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty Cover with Zac Brown Band
As She’s Walking Away
It’s Not Okay
Where the Boat Leaves From
Islands in the Steam Cover
Highway 20 Ride
Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Cover
Quiet Your Mind
My Name is Money – with Sonia Leigh
Keep Me In Mid
Whatever It Is
Settle Me Down
America The Beautiful Cover
Thats How Country Boys Roll
I Want To Be A Hillybilly
I Got A Feeling
Love Done Gone
Pretty Good At Drinking Beer
All Day Long
Let Me Down Easy
Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr. Cover
People Are Crazy
Must Be Doing Something Right
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers Cover
Good To Be Me
All Summer Long – Kid Rock Cover
1. Quiet Your Mind – Fiddle Solo – Zac Brown Band
2. Dixie Land Delight – Kenny Chesney with the Zac Brown Band
On Saturday, August 13, 2011, Kenny Chesney brough his Goin’ Coastal Tour to the New Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Not only was there a record breaking crowd, but – to the crowd’s delight – New York Yankees’ outfielder, Nick Swisher, appeared on stage with Chesney, Zac Brown, and at one point, the New York Jets coach, Rex Ryan. Swisher, pictured below, jumped on stage for a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker”.
My full review with pictures, setlists, and videos will be posted shortly. For now enjoy the pictures of Nick Swisher on stage:
P.C. Richard & Son Theater, New York City
August 8, 2011
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I arrived at the pristine P.C. Richard & Son Theater, located at 32 Avenue of the Americas in New York City’s Tribeca Neighborhood, about two hours before Showtime. To my surprise, there was already a huge single file line in front of the building and wrapped around the block. The fans, predominantly females of all ages, came equipped with a mixture of signs, boots, and cowboy hats. Everyone was happy to withstand the humidity as they were eager for their chance to get an up close and personal look at country music’s newest star, Luke Bryan.
Luke Bryan came out to the stage to a fury of screams from the crowd. He stated “What’s up New York City and iHeartradio? We have a good looking crowd here. This is going to be a lot of fun. If you were calling someone your baby and you’re not anymore, this song is for you.” He opened his show with a former #1 hit, “Someone Else Calling You Baby”. In typical Luke Bryan fashion, he was smiling, dancing, and interacting with the crowd throughout the song.
The above pictures are courtesy of iHeartRadio / Mark Gong.
1) Someone Else Calling You Baby
2) Drunk On you
3) I Don’t Want This Night To End
4) Rain Is A Good Thing
5) Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
6) Play Something Country (Brooks & Dunn Cover)
Album Release Party
Bowery Ballroom, New York City
July 26, 2011
I had the pleasure of attending the cd release party of country music star: Eric Church. The event was dubbed “Chief: Deconstructed” and was held at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on July 26, 2011. This was the same day that his third studio album was released entitled “Chief”. A bonus for the sold out crowd was that each ticket-holder received a hard copy of the album.
Fans who are familiar with Eric Church’s live shows all know that they are full of adrenaline with chest pounding and boot stomping. This night would be very different. Upon arriving to the intimate venue, the stage had no drum set and no amplifiers; instead, it only had five stools. The title of the show was “Chief: Deconstructed”, so no one had any idea what to expect.
It was very clear once Eric and four other men took to the stage and sat down, each with an acoustic guitar in hand. This would not be the energetic and often hyper Eric Church show, instead it would soon become an intimate look inside Eric Church “the song writer”. The other four men were Ryan Tyndell, Jeff Hyde, Luke Laird, and Casey Beathard. Each of these men not only helped sing the eleven tracks of the new release, but were also Eric’s co-writers for the album.
The show did not follow the exact tracklisting of the album. However, each song off of “Chief” was played. Eric started with Ryan Tyndell as they sang “Keep On” and followed it up by singing the ultra-country “Jack Daniels” with Jeff Hyde. Jeff is not only a co-writer, but also is in Eric’s band. The crowd already knew the words to this song as they sang along during the chorus. Eric has been playing this song during some of his shows over the past year.
In fact, Eric sang each of the songs as a duet with the co-writer who helped him write each of the songs. The only songs he did by himself included the third song of the night, “Creepin'”, and the last, “Country Music Jesus”. “Creepin'” has the potential to be a big radio hit for Eric as it is fast paced and rocks pretty hard.
Luke Laird next sang “Over When Its Over” which is a nice song with a catchy hook. Then Eric introduced Casey Beathard as “my favorite songwriter in Nashville”. In fact, the song Casey sang next, “Like Jesus Does” is the first song Eric has ever recorded that he did not write or co-write. Casey obviously explained that it was quite the honor for that achievement. The crowd began to mysteriously chant “one more year”. Eric caught on and quickly said “oh, is it because he looks like Brett Favre?”. The crowd applauded and Eric laughed hysterically.
“Like Jesus Does” is one of the standouts on the cd. It is so radio friendly it is unbelievable. I personally hope he releases it as a single at some point because I think it would shoot straight to number one.
Eric next stated “we’ve played every place in America. I’ve slept in every enviroment you can think of. I am passionate of my music and right now we are the number one album in America. It means so much to me and it is because of you guys I have this passion and we can do this.” It was a great prelude to his next song “Springsteen”. It is also a catchy tune that happens to be one of my favorites on the new album. It includes Bruce Springsteen song titles cleverly placed throughout the track. As always, you could heard different people in the crowd shout “Bruuuuuuuuuce”.
Next Jeff Hyde sang “I’m Getting Stoned” which is a funny song about a man who found out his ex-girlfriend got married to someone else and he realizes he messed up. The chorus is “she got a rock and I’m getting stoned”.
Then Eric stated that the next song, “Hungover & Hard Up”, was his favorite on the new album. It is a slower song about a man going through some struggles, all the while fighting off a hangover. If this song isn’t pure country, I don’t know what is.
Casey Beathard set up the background for the next song that was sung, “Homeboy”, which happens to be Eric’s new single on country radio. Casey said he got the idea because his son was listening to some bad music on the radio and acting all tough so he said “what’s up homeboy?” He then had that stuck in his mind and called up Eric to write the song. He knew Eric was “the only person who could record the song”. Eric and Casey let the crowd do most of the singing as everyone in the Bowery Ballroom that night seemingly knew the lyrics word for word.
Eric then spotted a sign in the crowd in which a young man was holding up that said “On My Bucket List: Take Shot with Eric Church”. Eric actually brought the young man on stage, poured two shots of Jack Daniels and took it with him. It set up the next song perfectly, “Drink In My Hand”. It is a fun, easy-going song that I am sure will be heard at country music tailgate parties throughout America this summer.
Finally, the last song of the night was “Country Music Jesus”. Eric seemed to struggle with the lyrics and only sang half of the song, but maintained himself well. For true fans of Eric Church, this night was quite special. You did not get the energy of his normal rowdy live shows, nor the smoke and amplifiers. Instead, you got a look inside the real song writer that he is – and got to hear the new tracks and the stories behind why they were written.
As I listened to the studio album on my ride back home that night, it was amazing how different the songs sounded from the acousitc set. Each of the songs were lyrically dynamic enough to sustain an enjoyable acoustic set, yet when the production and instruments were set to the songs, the music sounded that much better. Overall, the album is phenomenal and I would highly recommend country music fans to purchase it. And I will have a greater understanding and connection to the album after seeing the stripped down set that night at the Bowery Ballroom.
1. Keep On
2. Jack Daniels
4. Over When It’s Over
5. Like Jesus Does
7. I’m Getting Stoned
8. Hungover & Hard Up
10. Drink In My Hand
11. Country Music Jesus
1) Jack Daniels
East Rutherford, New Jersey
The Loud Tour was turned up a few levels from its usual decible meter at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 21st, 2011. This wasn’t because Rihanna had another eye-dropping wardrobe change or because she ran through the aisles of the crowd for the third time that night. No,t his was a much bigger “Concert Event” moment.
During the few minutes after the last song of her set “Take a Bow”, fans observed a cop car pull up to the right side of stage in the backstage area. The most observent fans, one of which happened to be my wife, could also hear a faint microphone check. It was a male’s voice who simply made the noise “uh-huh uh-huh”. I did not believe her when she said she heard that as I did not want to set my hopes up. Of course, she was eluding to the fact that she thought Jay-Z was doing a mic check. Much to my suprise, she was indeed correct.
Rihanna came out of her encore to large flames on the giant screens behind her. She sang only the chorus to her song with Eminem “Love the Way You Lie”. She walked a few feet forward, stopped, and froze. All of a sudden, a figure arose from a circular platform underneath the stage. The man stood still, facing down, and was wearing a Yankees hat pulled down low over his eyes. But everyone in the building knew exactly who it was and the place erupted.
Jay-Z is arguably the greatest rapper of all time. I certainly make the argument that he is. No one has had more longevity in the Hip-Hop/Rap Genre. He came out with his first cd back in 1995 has sold approximately 50 million records worldwide, and has eleven #1 records (the most of any artist, in any genre, all time). After arising from the stage and standing still looking down for approximately ten seconds, you could feel that everyone in the IZOD Center that night felt the same appreciation for him, that I have. The applause and screams were deafening. He and Rihanna then put their hands in the air and made the diamond symbol that fans know as the “Roc” symbol. The crowd responded in doing the same.
Jay-Z and Rihanna then performed their mega-hit “Run This Town” together. Rihanna looked to be as big of a fan of Jay-Z’s as everyone else in the building as she was all smiles while running around in admiration of her mentor. Jay-Z’s smooth rapping style and vintage moves were in full effect as they executed the song flawlessly.
Of course, everyone knew that this appearance would not be limited to one song. After all, Rihanna’s first hit “Umbrella” was another song featuring Jay-Z. They broke right into that song after “Run This Town” and everyone sang along with their camera’s flashing and their hands in the symbols of diamonds. Jay-Z quickly exited upon finishing his verse and left Rihanna on stage alone to finish out her song.
Rihanna’s performance pre-Jay-Z was a mixed bag for me. The good: she had a lot of energy, a multitude of extravagant costume changes, and high level production. The bad: she seemed to be lip singing at times and I was confused by the background dancers in various songs (including men dressed as robots who destroyed a car on stage at one point).
Overall, it was an entertaining and fun show. She did not have much interaction with the crowd between songs other than statements such as “What’s up Jersey”, which she said over and over again, and also “Get Your F****ing Hands Up”, which was not necessary since there were so many children in the crowd. She was at her best on her more sensitive and slower songs, when she was dressed in a very impressive yellow gown.
She also ran through the crowd a few times which gave the fans quite the treat. She even stopped at the back end of the floor opposite the stage to bang on a drum at one point. It was a bit cheesy, but no one seemed to mind. For me, that seemed to be the theme of the night (until Jay-Z showed up), it was colorful, fun, and sort of cheesy, yet everyone was having a good time.
But in the end, as much as Rihanna put forth her best efforts, Jay-Z upstaged her. I do not think she minded at all as she owes a lot of her career to him. In the end, it was a great surprise and left everyone in the building more than satisfied. Uh-huh, uh-huh.
1. Only Girl In the World
3. Shut Up and Drive
4. Man Down
5. Darling Nikki
7. Let Me
9. Raining Men
11. Breaking Dishes
12. Live Your Life
14. California King Bed
15. Pon de Replay
16. What’s My Name
17. Rude Boy
19. Don’t Stop The Music
20. Take A Bow
21. Love The Way You Lie (chorus only)
22. Run This Town with special guest: Jay-Z
23. Umbrella with special guest: Jay-Z