Eric Church brought his Outsiders World Tour to his adopted hometown last night with a 28-song, two-hour-plus blowout at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. While hits like “Homeboy,” “Drink in My Hand” — his first ever Number One — and debut single “How ‘Bout You,” chosen by a fan from Carthage, Tennessee, were all well-represented, the concert was distinguished by the sheer depth of its set list.
Church drew from all four of his albums — 2006’s Sinners Like Me, 2009’s Carolina, 2011’s Chief and latest LP The Outsiders — to flesh out an at times raucous performance that was heavy on audience engagement. Fans hoisted boots aloft during live-show staple “These Boots,” tossed a NASCAR flag onstage during current single “Talladega” and sang along word-for-word to album cuts like “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag,” “Livin’ Part of Life” and “Lotta Boot Left to Fill.”
The singer also dipped into the music that influenced him as an artist. He and his tight-as-a-drum band, along with backing vocalist Joanna Cotten, delivered a stomping take on Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” (watch a video of the performance above) and nodded to Black Sabbath with a few bars of “Sweet Leaf” at the end of stoner anthem “Smoke a Little Smoke.” Still, it was Church’s reverence for Bruce Springsteen that was most apparent. He prefaced his own rousing “Springsteen” with a solemn acoustic reading of “Thunder Road.”
The performance was also a historic one for Church — who established himself as a clear contender for future Entertainer of the Year races. The concert broke the Bridgestone Arena’s attendance record with 18,411 fans, besting a nine-year record set in 2006. As the previous record-holders—the comics of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour — might say, the Chief got ‘er done.