In front of a SOLD OUT crowd in Grand Rapids, Eric Church delivers a performance his fans won’t soon forget.
With a convoy of semi trucks and buses, Eric Church and his team rolled into Grand Rapids on Thursday evening for the highly anticipated Michigan stop along his 2017 Holdin’ My Own Tour.
In the effort of giving his fans the ultimate concert experience, along with his fight against ticket brokers and scalpers, Eric cancelled large quantities of tickets bought by brokers just weeks prior to the show. Eric then reissued the tickets to his fans and gave them the opportunity to purchase the ticket at face value.
Eric brings a complete package that all artists should stand up and pay attention to as he gives the crowd what they came to see. As most artists thank the crowd for coming and spending their hard earned money to support them, Eric does more than thank them as he rewards them with a two set, high energy show separated by a 20 minute intermission that allows everyone to catch their breath before partying on with a second set that is more of a bar like atmosphere show.
The show serves up hits from his five studio albums including his most recent, Mr. Misunderstood from 2015 on EMI Records Nashville. Eric is joined on stage by six band mates which also includes back-up vocalist Joanna Cotton, who accompanies Eric at the front of the stage during times in the show where her strong vocals are highlighted.
As everyone is seated waiting for the show to begin, the crowd erupts with loud cheers as the arena lights go down to show a single spot light shining onto a microphone at center stage while Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” plays through the arena.
With all the lights still dark, Eric strolls out to center stage and begins his show singing “Mistress Named Music.” As the song progresses through, stage lights slowly rise to show off the six members of his band joining him on stage. Standing on each of the side wings Eric is also joined on stage by the local Catholic Central H.S. Choir for back-up vocal harmonies.
Eric slowly builds up the crowd for the evening’s performance before hitting full stride with 11,500 backup singers on his liquid encouragement themed “Drink In My Hand.”
A 360-degree stage is erected so that there is now bad seat in the house and a general admission standing pit is located in the center so as to not block the view for anyone behind them. Throughout the show, Eric makes sure to reward the fans by shaking hands and signing autographs to lucky crowd members. At the conclusion of ”Talladega,” Eric signs an infant’s onesy that read “Eric Church’s Littlest Fan.”
With his love of the older outlaw country sound Eric performs “Pledge Allegiance To The Hag” in honor to the late Merle Haggard, before an image of Merle Haggard appears on the overhead video screen.
During “Smoke A Little Smoke” Eric travels back and forth from each side of the stage asking the crowd to sing back to him “Drink A Little Drink” and “Smoke A Little Smoke.” At the conclusion of the song, Eric and his band exited off the stage for a 20-minute intermission where the video screen counts down to the beginning of the second set.
The second set opens up with the band individually entering the stage with a bit of an instrumental solo for the build-up to “Ain’t Killed Me Yet.” As the song concludes Eric shouts out to the crowd “OK Grand Rapids, half time is over. Let’s Go,” which leads right into “Guys Like Me.”
Eric talks about how in the past when he was on tour, the shows would start out with sometimes 20 to 30 people. Next time around it would climb by 100 people to 200 to 300 to where now he is able to sell out 10,000-20,000 people arenas. He is completely amazed by the love shown to him, his family and band members that is all of why he is able to perform inside the Van Andel Arena. For this tour, he has brought back a song “Two Pink Lines” from early on that is a way to acknowledge those and say thank you to all who have been there from the very beginning.
With 53 shows down and 9 remaining as part of the Holdin’ My Own Tour, Eric tries to perform a song from an artist who originated from the State. For Grand Rapids, Eric is going to do three songs because off his history with Grand Rapids (he has family around the Grand Rapids area) and some of the best music comes from around the State of Michigan. The songs chosen for Grand Rapids includes “Against The Wind” by Bob Seger, “Chain Of Fools” by Aretha Franklin and “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad. For Chain Of Fools, Eric calls on his back-up vocalist Jolette to sign this hit while he assist in back vocals.
Eric asks the crowd if they are able and willing to continue on claiming that from this point on that it is uninhibited. Although it is not Friday night, from here on out it is Michigan’s Largest Bar for a Thursday night and we are going to get drunk and loud.
Performing the song “Jack Daniels,” Eric sits down at center stage with a shot bottle of Jack Daniels and does a toast and shot with members of the Church Choir inside the GA Pit. Afterwards, Eric is seen via video pouring a round of shots for the crew working backstage.
While “Creepin'” Eric is amazed by the volume of the crowd’s singing back to him that the show is filled with a wild crowd and takes him back to the days of performing at the legendary Intersection concert lounge.
Last year, Eric wrote a song “Three Year Old” about his learning to be a father based on actions of his three year old son. Next Eric walked the perimeter of the stage collecting boots from participants throughout the crowd. After the song “These Boots” Eric signed the boots and returned them to their owners adding a guitar pick to the inside.
Eric concluded the second set with the song “Springsteen.” Each time hearing the song it takes him back to when he was 18 years old.
Eric resumes the show with an encore but not before thanking everyone for a special night that means so much to him. He asked the crowd if they were sure they wanted to continue before playing his tour song “Holdin’ My Own.” Going all out acoustic, Eric wrapped up the evening with “What I Almost Was” and following up with a solo on his personal favorite song “Those I’ve Loved.”
Although the crowd has just attended a four hour show of nothing but Eric Church, the crowd files out of the arena speaking of highlights and re-singing songs from the evening.
Just one more reason why more artists should take notice of Eric Church and how to sell out arenas and give the crowd something to remember after purchasing a ticket and the show is over.
For more information on Eric Church or the Van Andel Arena follow any of the links below:
Van Andel Arena
Eric Church setlist:
1. Hallelujah 2. Mistress Named Music. 3. That’s Damn Rock And Roll. 4. The Outsiders. 5. Knives Of New Orleans. 6. Drink In My Hand. 7. Carolina. 8. How ‘Bout You. 9. Sinners Like Me. 10.Cold One. 11. Round Here Buzz. 12. Mr. Misunderstood. 13. Talladega. 14. Like A Wrecking Ball. 15. Pledge Allegiance To The Flag. 16. Smoke A Little Smoke. 20 Minute Intermission. 17. Ain’t Killed Me Yet. 18. Guys Like Me 19. Record Year. 20. Home Boy. 21. Chattanooga Lucy 22. Two Pink Lines. 23. Kill A Word. 24. Against The Wind – Bob Seger cover. 25. Chain Of Fools – Aretha Franklin cover 26. We’re An American Band – Grand Funk Railroad cover. 27. Give Me Back My Hometown. 28. Jack Daniels 29. Before She Does. 30. Mixed Drinks And Feelings 31. Creepin’. 32. Three Year Old. 33. These Boots. 34. Springsteen Encore. 35. Holdin’ My Own. 36. What I Almost Was. 37. Those I’ve Loved