On September 13th UMass Amherst played host to the opening night of the second leg of the Eric Church Blood Sweat & Beers Tour serving up . . . a dry venue !
“The Blood Sweat & Beers Tour will go lots of places. But nobody, nobody gave it to us like you guys (Boston).”
That was the shout out Church fired to the Boston crowd on the FIRST LEG of the Blood Sweat & Beers Tour back in March 2012 at the Tsongas Arena, Lowell MA.
Well, Boston musta made one helluva mark on this country music rebel rouser because Boston was first served a second shot of artistic intoxication. Round two of Eric Church’s Blood Sweat & Beers Tour pulled up at the Mullins Center Thursday, September 13, on the infamous party campus, UMass Amherst (MA) but . . .
NO BEER ALLOWED !
You read that right – NO BEER ALLOWED !
With only a short study time under their belt, the crowd, the campus and the Choir were planning to party. Church, his props, rock, lyric and charisma were a dynamite match for this historical party palace.
But with songs titled Smoke A Little Smoke, Drink in My Hand, I’m Gettin’ Stoned and Hung Over & Hard Up; lyrical lullabies rockin’ “your cocaine kiss and caffeine love“, “I was 15 when my daddy’s ‘ol man caught me halfway through my first beer“, and “Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night“; from a tour titled “Blood Sweat & Beers” how the hell does a performer succeed at playing to . . . a dry venue?
You’re Erich Church, that’s how !!!
Country Music Jesus
If this was your first run in with the Blood Sweat & Beers Tour, you were no doubt impressed, surprised, more than entertained and not at all disappointed as this Country Music Jesus exploded onto the stage and through the arena in a no-holds-barred evening of smoke, fire, psychedelics and pyrotechnics.
“I’m sorry you can’t buy beer from those concession stands,” Church empathized with the crowd before him. “But I don’t give a shit”, he shouted, “we’re still gonna party, whether there’s . . .
I’m not sure what else was said because the crowd concurred with a defeaning roar.
Old Shots, New Mixes – Church Delivered Round After Round
Now, with three albums under his success belt, it musta been hard putting together a set list. But I was seriously impressed. Eric mixed up and delivered round after round of intoxicating artistic brilliance from “Sinners”, “Carolina” and “CHIEF”.
He “Pledged Allegiance to the Hag” with a spectacular background from the never ending supply of changing backdrops. He wrapped up business with the “Hag” then fired up a fan-favorite, crowd-pleasing tribute to who he is. Always known for standing in integrity, this is and always will be one of my Church favorites because . . .
Although Church hit the pinnacle of professional recognition with his #1 across all genres release of “Chief” back in 2011, fans that have been in the pew during the first few bars of “How ‘Bout You” stood in celebration of Church’s country music journey as Eric reminisced with his opening anthem and worked the stage, front, center and side to side, bringing everyone into this party.
Church returned to the confessional booth and told his tale of liking Jack D and how the two got into trouble together.
“I don’t give a shit”, he concurred. “I love drinking it. Here’s to the rest of you not getting up early in the morning.”
Church continued with the serving of a double shot mix of “Jack” and another “Sinners” favorite “Livin’ Part of Life”. He attempted to raise a toast to “Jack”, but it seems his personal flask was … empty ! Did the venue get to that too or did Eric lose track of consumption ! Didn’t matter much. Eric grabbed his red Solo cup and raised a toast to the squealing crowd then topped it off with “Hungover and Hard Up”.
If I’ve lost anyone in this review up to this point, I got one thing to say, You don’t know Church and you’d best get yourself a copy of “Sinners”, “Carolina”, “Chief” and tickets to the “Blood Sweat & Beers” Tour because this is not an artist, a moment or a tour to miss !
Dazzling Stage Dynamics but Seriously Pissed . . .
There’s truly not a thing I can think of that Church left out of his tour including his dazzling stage dynamics. Seriously.
Just when you thought the surprises mighta been over . . .
The stage suddenly became a swamp during a storm. Crickets, fog, rain and a silhouette of a banjo-picking Chief came ‘Creepin’ onto the set and into the night.
“Oh man ! I didn’t know he could play banjo” echoed from all around me.
But the song, the crowd and Eric were doing anything but creepin’. With his signature scream, body thrust and chest thumping, Church’s lyrical brilliance cried “your cocaine kiss and caffeine love got under my skin and into my blood …”
He followed with “Keep On”, a song so lyrically brilliant that I had to keep turning it off to catch my breath when I first heard it. I will be disappointed if “Keep On” doesn’t make it to a radio single. But as I indulged in a live performance of Church’s lyrical ingenuity, I became seriously pissed . . .
Maybe they decided to “smoke a little smoke” seeing as they couldn’t “drink a little drink” ‘cos from where I was standing (in the pit) … female down ! The “pit” was disrupted with what a Daily Collegian author has tried to explain is the result of removing liquor from the venue. I’m not sure if the Chief could see what was going on before him. But as he kept on, kept on, kept on, kept on singing this awesome song, there was a girl down and paramedics all over. Whether she was drunk, stoned or completely intoxicated by Church, we’ll never know.
Church Strips Down Raw and Exposes Himself . . .
It’s often said in the world of music that “it all begins with a song”. And one of my favorite all time performances to watch is when an artist strips down raw and exposes their acoustic artistry. And Church treated the crowd with an acoustic set that was chilling.
Although there’s an unexplainable captivation when man meets guitar and he and his acoustic sing from the heart of the original composition, Church kept the crowd playful with moments of lyrical malarkey like :
“by now you probably heard I settled down // and gave my dad a grandson of his own // and when the doc smacked his ass, you bet he took a swing // cos he comes from a long line of Sinners Like Me”.
And with Church’s signature smirk, he ended “Sinners” with “I thank God for Massachusetts”. Then chilled down this fired up crowd with a moving acoustic rendition of “Love Your Love The Most”. The crowd immediately chimed in and sang EVERY SINGLE WORD with him.
The Acoustic Ended but the Party Just Began . . .
The acoustic set ended and Church exploded literally with a hell-raising gun salute to his first #1 single “Drink in My Hand“.
“It’s part two of the Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour and we brought it to UMass”, he warned. “So from here on ’til the end of the show you better give me everything you’ve got ‘cos I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got”.
And true to his word, he did. Church continued with an unforgettable, crowd participation rendition of “Drink”, raised the bar to screeching insanity at the recognition of “Lotta Boot Left to Fill” and then teased with incorrect “Homeboy” lyrics.
I don’t know how the Choir kept up. There wasn’t ONE SONG this crowd didn’t know. They screeched, screamed, howled and harmonized. It was truly mind blowing. And it never ended … never !
A Last Line That Lingers . . .
If Church remembered anything from his marketing degree maybe it would be that you write a last line that lingers. Well, like everything Church does, he stepped that up a notch and delivered an encore never to be forgotten.
No spoiler here, though. I couldn’t do that to concert goers that laid down their hard earned blue collar dollars and are seeing Church for the first time.
I’ll just say that Church’s encore was “Smokin” like you’ve never seen an encore or an instrument smoke !
And if you have cowboy boots, wear ’em. ‘Cause there’s a song from “Sinners” that while it stands in the spotlight of country music storytelling brilliance, it has taken on a life of it’s own. I’ll bet never during the creation of the song did Church ever think this song would become a concert moment anthem. But it has so be sure you don’t leave ’til the “crew” comes out to dismantle.
And I mean that. Wait ’til you see the crew men taking things apart because you just might think it’s over before it’s over … and it ain’t.
Amidst a slightly dim moment on the stage from behind a piano Eric serenades “When I think about you”. And that’s all it took !
The crowd was ferocious. The night was suddenly anew.
“There’s a time in your life where melodies and memories connect with each other. No matter where you go, no matter how many years go by,” Church confesses, “when you hear that song you’ll always think about that girl, you’ll always think about that night…”
Church tipped his hat to that memory by asking the crowd to do something for him, which they did, which turned the song and the venue into a starry skied memory. He spritzed a little Springsteen tribute into the lyric then drove the memory home with :
“like a soundtrack to a September Thursday night, I remember Springsteen. And I will remember you and I thank you, UMass Amherst, Massachusetts.”
It’s no wonder Springsteen and Eric Church are up for five CMA Awards.
Make sure you do whatever it takes to get yourself to an evening with Eric Church on the Blood Sweat & Beers Tour because this seriously is not a tour or an artist to be missed. And I assure you, this is just the beginning. This might be the “Blood Sweat & Beers” Tour but Eric Church hasn’t yet broken a sweat with his talent. Don’t miss it !
Enjoy Eric Church’s CMA Nominated #1 single “Springsteen”
Author Note: A “huge” thank you to all YouTube Channels whose videos I linked to here. My camera froze then kept shutting off and none of my footage was useable. I am grateful for the posting of your videos and public use of them ! here’s to Eric Church …