Saturday, May 27, found us going (back) to Bridgestone Arena for the last night of the Eric Church Holdin’ My Own tour. When he announced last year he was doing a show all by himself, no openers, we were intrigued and excited. However, with the hype the tour generated between the opening show in Nebraska (that we considered going to), till the end of the 61 date tour, kinda made me concerned wouldn’t live up.
We had gotten tickets through a somewhat arduous ticketing process set up by Eric’s fan club, the Church Choir (the process has been supplanted by Ticketmaster’s new Verified Fan system) to reduce scalping, but also meant we were sitting with many other Church Choir members in lower arena, including ones who had been to the previous night in Bridgestone. At the ticketed start time of 8, nothing happened, we assumed running late, but we found out that Friday hadn’t started till 8:30, that was kind of annoying.
So at 8:30, lights went down, and mic stand was spotlit and the Jeff Buckley rendition of “Hallelujah” came on. And it went on the full 8 minutes of the song! My cousin’s funeral had the same song, so wasn’t exactly how I wanted to kick off a fun night of country music, real downer, but apparently Eric loves it (even did it on his live Red Rocks album).
When it finally was over, Eric and band came out to sing “Mistress Named Music” off the Mr. Misunderstood album, bringing on a local choir, as he has done at every other stop I learned from listening to most recent Outsiders Radio that Eric does monthly on Sirius XM The Highway. From there, he went into “That’s Damn Rock and Roll,” by far one of my favorite songs, that Joanna Cotten, his incredible backup singer, joined him for, as she did for many of the songs he features a strong female voice on, she is always amazing. For the next almost 90 minutes he made his way through songs off all 5 studio albums. He also did a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” in homage to Gregg Allman who passed away earlier that Saturday.
After “Smoke a Little Smoke” we took an intermission during which I roamed around, while the fans around us talked reverently about Eric and the show. Now, let me say, this is and the hype surrounding the tour may be what was off-putting. It felt more like a cult around us, than a country show.
I love Eric, have every album from when “Two Pink Lines” first came out, been to at least one show per year since 2011, but this mystique he, or the fans, or both creating around him a bit much. The music was incredible, and I know Eric cares about the music. I love that the fans knew almost every album cut he played, you don’t get that at ANY other concert; but let’s not get to a point where we chastise those who don’t worship at the same Church.
After the intermission a re-energized Eric came back to “Ain’t Killed Me Yet” before doing another 2 hours and another 24 songs. When he sang “Record Year”, he collected each of his vinyl albums from the pit and signed them for the fans (very cool even if I can’t get into vinyl like he does). As he finished the regular set with “Springsteen” he proudly showed off an American flag scarf some fan had handed up to him.
The encore consisted of 4 album cuts, starting with “Chevy Van” off his independent “Caldwell County” EP and ending with the tour title “Holdin’ My Own.”
I’ve said from the beginning, not everyone could, or would even want to, pull of nearly 4 hours and 42! songs with out any covers, save one.
Think about it, the band and him had to know the music and lyrics of every song off every record he’s every recorded, plus different covers every night. At one point he even needed a lyric sheet for one of his own songs, and as social media was kind to note, he missed a word or two in Midnight Rider.
It take a certain kind of artist at a certain time in their career with a certain fan base. Eric Church sold out 61 shows to people who were there to see and hear and experience him. It was a virtuoso tour de force and a different experience that we will probably never have again!