02 March 2014 (gig)
10 March 2014
There’s no point beating around the proverbial: Eric Church laid waste to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on a very wet Sunday evening with a set of the new, the old and maybe nicked too.
More complex than he’s given credit for Church and his music are at their core blue collar America as extolled by the likes of Mellencamp and Springsteen, although I don’t recall them singing the virtues of Jack Daniels, or alcohol in general, as much as he does. Though playing with traditional Country, Like a Wrecking Ball, through basic rock ‘n’ roll and skirting hard rock (tonight) with I’m Gettin’ Stoned, he’s not afraid to experiment. That’s clear from the songs from the new album that were given an airing taking the gig down slightly darker paths especially with The Outsider and Dark Side.
Saying that overall it was a set packed with familiar material. Much of it felt like a rerun of the live album with the audience taking their cues for Creepin’ and Homeboy. These Boots caused a mass of cowboy boots to be crowd surfed towards the stage which Church happily signed. The Lords of Country music got their due namechecks for Waylon and Cash and fittingly the show closed with Springsteen, which never really fails to hit the spot.
Backed by an excellent band, a playful perma-sunglassed Eric Church was in fine vocal form - he took the spotlight for a soulful, solo rendition of Like Jesus Does – and worked with the crowd creating an utterly uplifting atmosphere that’s only achieved when the two are totally in sync with each other's ebbs and flows. It’s rare, but tonight was one of those nights.