Detroit Michigan (January 22,2022)-Eric Church was on stage at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Saturday a long time. A good long time. Over 3 hours along with a full set list of 33 songs which included a few surprises along the way. The country music icon’s performance left a mark on the city and his fans for all to remember and not soon to be duplicated. The super-star has never hidden the fact that he aspires to be an epic live performer the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam or even Paul McCartney, each who carefully design their live performances for maximum exposure. But Church does things a little differently than the rest and it works to keep his fans engaged throughout each show.
The country star and his seven-member band prolonged the crowds anticipation by 65 minutes after the posted 8 p.m. start time before they took the stage — a 2,400-square-foot,multi level set in the middle of the arena that offers 360 degree views, an almost full in-the-round type setting. Church and company compensated, however, keeping the crowd, which was estimated to be one of the largest ever at Little Caesars Arena, in the building and on its feet just past midnight.
Church has designed the “Gather Again Tour” so that no two shows will be exactly alike which allows the fans to get a unique experience at each concert they attend. Saturdays performance had a high octane, seat of the pants feel where song placement was precise and complementary. Even though he announced early on “Everything that I have pent up, everything that you have pent up, we’re gonna get all that (stuff) out tonight,” Church momentarily continued, “It might be a long night.”
Church and his band proceeded to offer up a stunning assortment of hits off his nine studio albums. After opening the night with “Stick That In Your Country Song,” which contains the opening line,“Take me on up to Detroit city…… ,” the party was on. An onslaught of favorites “Guys Like Me, “Hell of A View”, “Drink In My Hand”, “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” and ”Creepin’,” had the capacity crowd on their feet singing and dancing along from the onset. Under normal circumstances this selection of cuts would be a stunning assortment of hits for any artist.Remember though,this isn’t just any artist,this is Eric Church,a songwriting genius who has recorded a plethora of fan favorites throughout his career. The truly amazing part is that all these playlist favorites were covered before reaching midpoint. That is what kind of show this is.
Mixed within the “too numerous to mention highlights,” was a pairing of hometown hero Bob Seger’s songs — hard rocking and as Church claimed, unrehearsed, renditions of “Get Out of Denver” and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” at the show’s halfway point. As he has in past Detroit area appearances, Church spoke about how Seger “saved” his career in 2006, taking Church on the road as an opening act after he’d been kicked off a Rascal Flatts tour for attempting (and as most say, succeeding) to show up the headliner. “I would not be standing here if it was not for Bob Seger,” Church said before kicking into the potent offerings.
One could drop a needle at any point throughout the rest of the night and find special moments. Whether it be chart-topping singles “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Talladega,” “Mr.Misunderstood,” or the more recent “Heart on Fire,” Church was confident and in total control. Eric Church has established himself as the ultimate entertainer in Country Music,recognized(some say finally) by the 2020 Entertainer of the Year award at the at the 54th CMA Awards in Nashville. The man simply loves his fans. In the middle of an extended take on “These Boots,” while he was autographing boots and shoes for fans, he told the crowd, “I have dreamt many nights of being here again. We were made for fellowship. And to sing.” It was no mere line, and the crowd’s reaction proved that they’re connected with Church and his music on a truly intrinsic level. That scene repeated itself once again during a extended playthrough of “Record Year,” where he signed several vinyl album covers, including a copy of Merle Haggard’s Greatest Hits. Church also grabbed a couple of American flags from fans during the show, draping them around his neck like scarves, and dedicated “Round Here Buzz” to a young child attending his first concert which at the conclusion he orderly proclaimed,“Start Em’ Young!”
Like his idol Bruce Springsteen, Church aspires to deliver an experience that was immersive and transcendent. He is engaging and has a knack for adding things into his performances at the perfect moment in time. For instance, tonight he saluted the legendary artist Meat Loaf, who passed away Thursday, Jan. 20, with a full verse of the late singer’s 1993 comeback hit “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” at the end of the main set before segueing into one of his biggest hits “Springsteen.”
As the night concluded with a perfect rendition of “Livin’ Part of Life” and “Through My Ray-Bans,” I was left to ponder “What else Eric Church could have done to improve on tonight’s show?” It had energy,emotion,fan interaction and some fantastic music from a true world-class entertainer. After I thought about it a few more seconds, the answer was crystal clear, not a thing. He may sing in “Guys Like Me,” that “I spend Saturdays working on my truck,” but he spent this Saturday night in Detroit working like a man on a mission…. albeit one that was wildly successful that won’t be forgotten by anyone fortunate enough to have been in attendance.
Little Caesars Arena: