Eric Church is a rare breed. His concerts captivate the entire audience from start to finish, unlike anybody else. For years when people have asked me, “What is the best concert that you’ve been to?” I always reply with, “When was the last time Eric Church was in town?”
When Church kicked off his first major headlining tour in January of 2012 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, along with 1,999 other people country music fans witnessed something special- a star in the making.
Church’s catalog of songs runs deep and wide, and even in the beginning you had no idea what to expect. Could he play an entire night of ‘Sinners Like Me’ and ‘Chief’ hits, or would he decide to dig deep and play a night of ‘Caldwell County’ and ‘Carolina’ tracks? The worldwide 2015-2016 The Outsiders Tour was when things began to change, a different setlist in every city, as he promised that no two concerts would be the same, and he delivered on that promise. In April, 2016, Church delivered the longest set of the entire tour at the TD Garden here in Boston. Fans were treated to mega hits ‘Drink In My Hand,’ ‘These Boots,’ and ‘Springsteen,’ along with songs that were played only once or twice the entire two year tour, ‘Longer Gone,’ and ‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew.’
At a two night stand in Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Church unveiled a massive surprise, announcing his return to the road on the 2017 ‘Holdin’ My Own’ tour, spanning more than 60 cities in North America, but the most intriguing thing was that true to the name, Church was going to be the only act on the tour, delivering two sets a night in every city, something nearly unheard of in any genre. Not only is he undertaking some of the largest arenas in North America, which most radio-driven mainstream acts struggle to fill, but he is filling them without any support, just himself, which only a handful of names in any genre can say they’ve accomplished.
The tour kicked off mid January in Lincoln, Nebraska, and delivering on his promise, Church performed over 35 songs, nearly 3 1/2 hours long, and a setlist of songs branching as wide as any we’ve seen before. With so many cities in a 4 1/2 month stretch it’s crazy to think about changing one setlist a night as he’s done before, but two? Impossible some might say, but Church, arguably the most devoted musician to his fan base, is making it look easy. Every stop on the tour so far has seen a different performance, including Saturday’s return to the TD Garden. Over 3 1/2 hours and over 35 songs, Church was electric once again with songs from his latest album, ‘Mr. Misunderstood,’ ‘Knives of New Orleans,’ ‘Three Year Old,’ and a duet with Joanna Cotton, ‘Mixed Drinks about Feelings,’ including songs from every album along the way, even his rare cover of ‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew,’ from the album ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute album. The tour returns to New England in April, returning to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT for two nights on the 27th and 28th, and at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on the 29th.