The end-of-summer evening sky was hosting an early setting sun. The air was crisp and tailgaters staggered to finish up their final games of Beirut.
I’d just come from a closed door meet-and-greet. My feet hadn’t reconnected with the ground yet, my heart was “skippin like a record machine” and my head was still back at the OMG-I-finally-met-Eric-Church dimension I’d just floated through.
There was definitely a different vibe in the air !
“Please be careful”, I frightfully begged as the usher checked the validity of my now autographed Eric Church ticket stub. I located my pavilion seats, caught my breath and quietly said a huge thanks for an evening I knew I’d never forget.
Moments later as I mingled with the media in the “pit” amidst a blackened night and a blackened stage awaiting The Chief’s arrival through the stillness, the feeling in “my” pit was reminiscent of the prelude to a first kiss. Engulfed in complete darkness, the mystery of Eric’s opening against the backdrop of his new album, “Chief”, was eerie. In fact, I’d say it was downright c-r-e-e-p-i-n.
Through the air and across your skin, you could sense something was about to happen. The darkness, the stillness, then … “bong! bong! bong! ba-dum”… BAM!
“Like a honey bee beatin’ on my screen door,” you heard a little buzz from the dark stage floor. Church hit the stage, the Choir hit a roar, and the atmosphere was set like never before. The mystery of Church’s opening, the uncertainty of his whereabouts and the eventual “Creepin” spotlight on sunglasses, baseball cap and – for the first time – a banjo-picking Chief, sparked the atmosphere. A shiver shot through me and electricity shot through the crowd.
A new album, a new song, a new opening and Boston knew every word. What an awesome feeling that must be, I reveled, for this record-breaking, recently nominated new (?) artist. But Church didn’t get where he is now by resting on his laurels or reveling in accolades. And Eric wasted no time on September 17, 2011 as an opening act on Toby Keith’s Locked and Loaded Tour appreciating, acknowledging and engaging the crazed crowd before him.
I wrapped up my media moment then returned to my seat to entrench myself in entertainment euphoria. Unfortunately though, the opening was the only thing that was “Creepin”. The rest of the evening was moving along far too fast for my liking.
And although I’m sure the audience wouldn’t have minded, Church didn’t just play singles off his new, highly acclaimed #1 album, “Chief”. Eric mixed up shots from his 2006 debut “Sinners Like Me” and his 2009 sophomore follow-up, “Carolina” and served round after round of favorites old and new.
He delivered a delightfully romantic, memorable and engaging performance of a new but already “Chief” favorite – “Springsteen” – acknowledging lovers on the lawn and the memories everyone drives away with after a “July Saturday night” outdoor concert such as this one. Typical guy, he had my attention then stole my heart as he followed-up with his first single and one of my favorites, “How ‘Bout You” ! Man, it was seriously awesome hearing that song again … and live! And it was vocally clear the “crazy ass crowd” was loving its return, its performance and its participation. You simply couldn’t get enough…
With a friend to my right but in my own little bliss, I sang, danced, screamed and … “Yes”? I questioned in response to the young woman beside me tugging my left arm. “Excuse me”, she apologized, “I don’t mean to sound nosy, but do you, like, know EVERY Eric Church song”? I chuckled, glowed and boasted “Ah! yup; sure do. I’m a huge fan.” “Ya, I figured that”, she responded back. “I couldn’t help but notice you’ve sung every word to every song.” We chuckled for a moment then returned to the realization that the crowd was doing the same thing …
Amidst a never-ending, deafening volume of screeching Choir members, it’d be difficult to tag the evening’s favorite moment. With “Drink in My Hand” Church introduced special guest “Jack Daniels” to frenzied fans willing to intoxicate themselves in the mix, chases “Jack” with an explosive return shot of a double-fisted, beer-guzzling “Lotta Boot Left to Fill” that brought the Comcast to a thunderous proclamation at the mere recognition of the opening chord. Then maybe – just maybe if I was up against the wall – I’d suggest that the l-o-n-g “screaming” ovation – I can’t say standing, they already were – throughout the performance and attempted final line of “Homeboy” could have been the evening’s Top Shelf pick.
Eric Church played the Comcast Center back on June 5, 2011 as a guest on the Jason Aldean “My Kinda Party” Tour. For anyone wondering if tonight was merely a repeat performance … hell no! Both performances were uniquely individual, spontaneous and loaded with surprises. There’s obviously always repeats in a set list but there was no repeat in the delivery.
Church’s high-energy “I want you to give me everything you’ve got on this song right here” request for assistance with the crowd-engaging “Smoke a Little Smoke” fan favorite definitely “knocked this son-o-a-b*tch right down”. But I could’ve put “Smoke” out with the tears in my heart. The screaming sound of that rockin’ melody whispered the sound of Eric’s performance coming to an end, not a sound anyone in this crocked crowd wanted to submit to. And if “funny how a melody sounds like a memory” was previously in my past, Eric Church erased it. This September Saturday night is a historic event that will forever reverberate in my heart … my “Springsteen”.
Hear more from this “Sinner” from “Carolina” called “Chief” at Eric Church’s Music page.