Country music outlaw Eric Church is continuing his domination in 2015. Church released his fourth album The Outsiders just over a year ago, debuting at #1 on the both the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts. It was the best-selling country album of 2014. Last month, Church was a featured performer at the 57th Grammy Awards. He delivered an emotional rendition of “Give Me Back My Hometown”, and was also nominated for four Grammys that night. Last week, The Outsiders’ fifth single “Like a Wrecking Ball” hit the radio waves. It’s a rather appropriate track, as Church is still rolling across the country like a wrecking ball on The Outsiders World Tour.
Last night at the sold-out Mohegan Sun Arena, very special guests Drive By Truckers opened the evening. Last year, the likes of country legend Dwight Yokam, Grammy Award-winning hard rockers Halestorm, The Brothers Osborne, and Brandy Clarke all supported Church on respective stretches throughout the 31-show trek. Southern rockers Drive By Truckers played hits like “Birthday Boy”, “The Big To Do”, “Tornadoes”, and others. The set also featured “First Air of Autumn” from their latest album English Oceans which hit #16 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the UK Rock Albums Chart last year. The band closed the set with their 2001 anthem “Let There Be Rock.”
After the set change, the arena went black and “Electric Worry” by Clutch came blasting through the speakers. The crowd began to sing along immediately, getting even more jacked up for The Chief to take the stage. He came out to Clutch. That’s badass.
Church entered out of the darkness with a Gibson Les Paul Special slung over his shoulder. He began strumming the opening notes of “The Outsiders”, the title track of his latest album. Then the rest of the band took the stage as Craig Wright and his drum kit descended from the rafters. “We’re gonna play whatever we want, and whatever you guys wanna hear,” Church stated. And that’s just what they did.
Church tore through a 23-song setlist that included hits like “Creepin’”, “Guys Like Me”, “Country Music Jesus”, “Cold One”, “Smoke a Little Smoke”, the ultra-heavy rocker “Homeboy” and his feel-good megahit “Drink In My Hand”. He also played “Jack Daniels”, and at one point while shaking hands with the crowd, a fan handed him a mini bottle of Jack which he immediately slammed. Would you expect anything less from Eric Church? I think not.
He closed out the evening with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A” that bled into his signature tribute track “Springsteen”. Speaking of The Boss, The Chief’s band The Outsiders are an absolutely stellar group that will one day take their place in the ranks with The E Street Band, The Heartbreakers, Crazy Horse, and other famous backing bands.
While I still think that Chief was Church’s finest hour, he’s definitely put out another gem with The Outsiders. The sold out shows on this tour run prove that Church is definitely at the height of his career and atop the country music world. He’s a rebellious renegade who’s doing it his way in class by himself.
Eric Church signed with Capitol Records in 2005, and released his debut LP Sinners Like Me in 2006. That same year, he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage. He promoted the album on the road with Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, and Miranda Lambert. In 2009, Church released his sophomore effort Carolina. The disc hit #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and produced three hit singles.
Church broke out in 2011 with his third album Chief. The disc skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums Charts, selling nearly 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. The disc ended up containing five hit singles, including fan-favorites “Homeboy” and “Creepin’” as well as #1 hits “Drink In My Hand” and “Springsteen”. Church toured with Toby Keith on the Locked & Loaded Tour, and he took home the American Country Music Award for Top New Solo Vocalist. The album Chief received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Album and won the CMA Award for Album of The Year.
In 2012, Church took his rebel reputation to a new level by accepting a personal invitation from heavy metal icons Metallica to perform at their own Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City, NJ alongside Avenged Sevenfold, Arctic Monkeys, Cage The Elephant, The Gaslight Anthem, Suicidal Tendencies, and more. – by Matt Bishop