REVIEW: Eric Church – Blood, Sweat & Beers – Ottawa, ON

Say what you will about the divide in country music: whether you’re a pop-country crossover supporter, or a traditionalist country fan, you can’t deny the power that is Eric Church. He brought his Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour to Ottawa on February 16th, 2013, giving fans in the Valley their first country show of 2013. It was the first headlining date in the capital region for the rock-country superstar, who previously played in Ottawa when he opened for Dierks Bentley.

Most of Eric’s dates on the Canadian leg of his current tour were sell outs: even selling more tickets than the legendary Bon Jovi in some markets. Not bad for a pretty simple set, which didn’t even include a main video screen. He did bring plenty of pyro, smoke effects, and showed up his piano skills in his encore of the GRAMMY nominated “Springsteen.” (Read our interview with “Springsteen” co-writer Ryan Tyndell here).

Eric came to Ottawa ready to rock, and rock he did. “Y’all can kick the rest of Canada’s asses,” he announced early into his set. Whoever in the crowd wasn’t already on their feet finally got up after that.

Eric’s show was opened by Average Joe’s Entertainment’s Colt Ford, a rapper that sings about the country lifestyle. It’s an interesting pick for someone who is out to break the mold of country music. Maybe that’s why the two were perfect for each other – each challenging the way country is perceived by fans of other genres: one rock star and one rap star.

Colt put on an entertaining show himself, and ended his set with a tribute to the Ottawa Senators while wearing the hometown jersey. I had some worries about how country fans in Canada would take Colt, since he is so out of the norm of what people consider “country”… but fans loved him. The general admission pit quickly filled half-way into Colt’s opening act in front of over 15,000 eager fans.

Eric Church is one of the bright stars in country. He might never raise to a cross-over success like Blake Shelton, but that doesn’t mean he can’t put on a show. He is simply the best live performer in the genre. Period. Eric is the must-see artist of 2013 for any music fan: not just country. With his crystal clear live vocals, a rock show that kept the party going, and a writing style reminiscent of The Eagles, Eric is no one-hit-wonder.

What country fans need to look out for is what else can “Chief” do next. Eric is here to stay in country music, and his shows continue to improve with each concert. Just ask the twenty or so fans in our section who traveled overnight from his sold-out Oshawa show the night before.

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Check out our Facebook pictures from the night here and let us know what you think about his live show – is it a must see? Who do you think is the best live performer in country right now?

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A 26 year-old Canadian girl currently living in England for a culinary career. Fell in love with country music and cooking at a young age, and looks for a way to do both.