Dierks Bentley in Concert
Friday, April 13, 2012
Nokia Theatre LA Live
Special guests: Will Hoge, Eli Young Band
Country and Cold Cans Tour 2012
Songs performed: Tip It on Back, Feel That Fire, Am I the Only One, Lots of Leavin’ Left to Do, Trying to Stop Your Leaving, 5-1-5-0, Settle for a Slowdown, Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go), Up On The Ridge, Come A Little Closer, How Am I Doin’, Home, (Graham Parker cover), (Foo Fighters cover), Garrett Hedlund song, Country and Cold Cans, Sideways, What Was I Thinkin’
Comments: Country hunk Dierks Bentley proved to be more of a bar singer than the headliner he should be in his latest tour. And that’s too bad, because he is a good singer and performer.
This was my third time seeing Mr. Bentley. He really won me over with his second album “Modern Day Drifter.” I first saw him as a opening act for Kenny Chesney, then in his own tour in support of his 3rd album. His current tour is in support of his 6th album “Home.”
So what was the issue? I enjoyed myself, but I really think he had a hard time making a connection with the crowd. Why is it that other country acts I have seen that came out around the same time (Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton), have gone on to greater success and acclaim, while he is still in the middle of the pack so to speak. It’s not like he is not still getting airplay on country radio, because he is.
He’s a good looking guy, but he tends to downplay his looks with a scruffy beard. Play up your sex appeal, tighter clothes, cleaner appearance. And why not, have more of a spectacle? Video screens, different backdrops and dramatic lighting. You are playing a venue that seats 7,000, yet I got the feeling that you could have done the same show in a much smaller venue like the House of Blues. He couldn’t even sell out the venue… and he has kept prices down too.
Then the guest stars seemed a bit self-indulgent to me. Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters joined Dierks on stage for a Gram Parsons song, as well as for one of the Foo Fighers songs. Then he brought Garrett Hedlund (Actor/singer from “Country Strong”) out to sing one song too, with Dierks harmonizing. Unlike Kelly Clarkson’s guests, these added nothing to the evening for me. I would have rather had more of Dierks’ hits, or not had Will Hoge on the bill.
What did he do right? He’s got a good catalog for sure, 6 albums into his career. So the songs rolled on, hit after hit. Everything from his early songs like ”How Am I Doin” through to his latest hit “Home” which was inspired by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as well as military families, and the economic crisis. These are songs that are easy to sing along to, dance to and they uplift your spirit. The crowd was on their feet for most of the 1 hour, 40 minute show. I was disappointed that he only sang 1 song from his bluegrass inspired album “Up on the Ridge.” He sang the title track only. For me, it was a great album, and I would have loved to hear more in a mid-set semi-acoustic segment. I would have also liked to hear more from the new CD: “When You Gonna Come Around” and “Breathe You In.” How about changing up some of the arrangements, or going out into the crowd? A performer has a lot of power in their hands, use it!
Opening acts Will Hoge and Eli Young Band proved to quite different from one another. Will Hoge is a good singer, a good bar singer and not much more to me. Average looking guy, OK songs and nothing more. Not surprised I had never heard of him. The Eli Young Band proved to be popular with the crowd, though I was not familiar with them at all. So I take it some of their songs were hits. They sounded like hits. They were more polished and refined than Will’s songs. Something I would hear on radio and not just in a bar on a Tuesday night.
Thanks, Dierks and company for a solid evening of music. You’ve got the goods (looks, songs, musicianship) — now take it to the next level.
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