Eric Church’s two sold-out solo shows last week at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado were sprawling, mostly acoustic events, with Church mixing in songs from his five studio albums with choice covers, including Leonard Cohen’s immortal “Hallelujah.”
First released in 1984, the song has been covered six ways from Sunday by a wide range of artists (from Jeff Buckley to Bon Jovi), and it seemed to strike a spiritual chord with Church’s fans. The unpredictable artist delivered his soul-bearing rendition in tender, fragile style, quietly picking a hollow-bodied electric guitar and singing softly, as if he were alone in a giant natural cathedral — which he pretty much was.
Cohen originally wrote around 80 verses to the shape-shifting tune, and over the years it has come to mean many different things to many different people, but to Church it seems a passionate love letter to song-craft itself.
Church has three festival dates through the end of the year and will kick off his Holdin’ My Own Tour January 13th in Lincoln, Nebraska. For the 60-plus city run, he’s making up his own rules, omitting opening acts and opting to play two full-length sets with his band instead. “For the fans, who’ve been with us a long time, it’ll be a pretty great night when we come to town and they know they’re going to get a night full of us,” Church tells Rolling Stone Country. “We’re going to work our ass off.”