Photo Courtesy of Eric Church/Jordan Peets
In the effort of full disclosure, I must say I am an Eric Church fan. There is a difficulty in reviewing someone you are a fan of.
A little background, I met Church at the Fiddle and Steal Guitar Bar in Nashville when he was a songwriter without a record deal. He was a friend of a friend and intriguing right away. That tough, rebel attitude you see on stage today was there then, just not as in your face.
I have been following his career ever since, and it is quite the story.
When I heard he was going on a tour with no opening act, just two sets, I was pumped. And on May 13, he stopped by Scottrade Center.
The stage configuration was definitely key in Church keeping the attention and energy of the 18,003 people in attendance. A square stage with an opening in the middle for the pit allowed Church to run around and stop at different microphone stands along the way, keeping everyone involved from the people up in the 300s to the crowd behind him in the choir loft.
A lot of performers rely on video projections and pyro to keep the crowd engaged. Church relied more on the music and his own insane energy. He promised to give the crowd all he had if they did in return. A simple video board mostly focused on Church and the band.
Church played his radio hits, “Talladega,” “Drink in My Hand” and “Record Year,” as the crowd sang along.
With three hours of time to fill, Church played his other songs, fan favorites that are not played on the radio. The crowd seemed to know every word to these songs, too.
To mix up the set from city to city, Church said he likes to play an artist from that city or a song that features lyrics focused on that city. For this stop in St. Louis, he added two Chuck Berry songs into the set list.
What is impressive about Church fans is how passionate they are. I talked to some who had been to 15 stops on this tour.
Some of those passionate fans came with props. During “Jack Daniels,” they had small whiskey bottles they sneaked in the arena. During “Record Year,” fans had records to hold up, and the lucky ones got them signed by Church himself.
In the choir loft, there were some fans in costume, wearing choir robes with skulls.
Since Church started playing “These Boots,” fans have always held up their boots in hopes for Church to gallivant around the stage with one and sign it. That has snowballed into fans bringing light up signs and throwing boots at Church.
The show's first set was one hour and 13 minutes, while the second set ran one hour and 46 minutes.
Church delivered on his end. He gave St. Louis a show they won’t soon forget.
Church has always had the talent to be one of the greats in country music. This show proves if he keeps down this path, he will be one of the greats, forever living through his songs.