Eric Church @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
The first thing you’ve gotta realize about an Eric Church show is, this ain’t your grandpa’s country music! Zeppelin’s, “When the Levee Breaks”, the chosen intro music is proof positive of the above statement. The premise of the Double Down Tour is to play consecutive nights while not being redundant.

Let’s see if Mr. Church can deliver on this promise!

A false flicker of the house lights during the intro music brings a roar from the nearly sold out Enterprise Center. When the house lights did go down, all eyes are the shadowy figure on the runway, Eric Church! Resembling a 1968, comeback Elvis Presley, complete with guitar and black leather jacket, Church opens with, “Drowning Man”. This man is known as a risk taker, the opening song reaffirms this as it is the last cut on his most recent album, Desperate Man. So, not the grand entrance some might expect but it is a calculated risk, Church wants you to explore his music. I’ll admit one of my favorite songs, “A Man Who was Gonna Die Young” was not a big radio song, but I discovered it by exploring his music. Keeping with the risky theme, Church will cover almost the entire Desperate Man album throughout the night.

I’m going to be honest, through the first three songs the vibe was somewhat experimental. Was Church feeling out the audience?  If so, he found the right combination in his fourth song, “Smoke a Little Smoke”. From here on out Mr. Church could have played opera music and the people still would have loved him! Looking at the setlist from both nights, Friday’s show may have the edge on Saturday’s show in the up-tempo department. But referring to my “experimental” statement, “yes I know, this the 4th night of the tour”, it is all experimental at this point.  One thing that was not experimental was, his backup singer, Joanna Cotten. This chick can sing! Church attempts to outlast Cotten in the note holding department during, “Creepin”, but has to bow to her tremendous pipes! More on her after intermission.

A 20-minute intermission, similar to a football halftime, proceeds the second half of this almost three-hour musical extravaganza. A musical whiff of Pink Floyd leads to another last album set opener, “Solid”. I see a theme here, do you? Getting the second half off to a quicker start, Church invites some audience participation with “Record Year”. During “Record Year”, the band breaks down while Church autographs albums handed to him from those in attendance. I gotta say, that’s pretty cool. Next up, “Desperate Man”, the album’s title track makes me realize our musical upbringings are very much the same. In fact I mistook the opening notes of this song as the Stones' “Sympathy for the Devil”.

A few songs later Church is guzzling down some Jack Daniels with audience members during his hit that goes by the same name. Back to working without a net, Church covers Captain Beefheart’s “Diddy Wah Diddy”. I think a few audience members were scratching their heads with this one, maybe even me too! Joanna Cotten wows, covering Ann Pebbles's “St. Louis Woman”. Church gives her well-deserved command of the stage, as he lip syncs backup vocals. Even a star of his caliber knows he can’t compete with Miss Cotten! Showing his musical roots again, Church recants the story of  throwing up in a trash can after opening for Bob Seger. Paying homage, he performs a flawless version of “Travelin Man”. Putting a cap on the second set, he plays his signatures, “Springsteen”, “Like a Wrecking Ball”, “These Boots”, and “Sinners Like Me”. We ain’t done yet!

Sans band, Church returns as he entered:  him and a guitar. Another confession, my favorite Church song has yet to be played, “where is it, why hasn’t he played it yet, will he encore with it?” Alright so he didn’t play it tonight but he made up for it with the encore opener, “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young”, one of my many theme songs. Thanks Eric! “A Mistress Named Music” shuts the night down but not before Church opens a music encyclopedia in the middle. Seger’s “You’ll Accompany Me”, Joel’s “She’s Got a Way”, Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, John’s “Tiny Dancer”, and The Beatles “With a Little Help From my Friends” all found a way into Church’s musical history book. What a two-night run! A quick check of Setlist FM shows roughly 83 songs played in two nights, five tour buses, six semi-trailers, and one man Doubling Down with a winner of a tour! Thanks to Eric Church and his management for allowing MTC MAG to witness this spectacle, and Enterprise Center for hosting these great shows!

Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
Eric Church @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO Eric Church @ Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on January 31, 2019 Rating: 5
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