PHOTOS AND REVIEW: Eric Church rocks the SOEC in Penticton

Penticton has never seen a church choir quite like this.

A congregation of over 5,000 helped build the electric atmosphere on Friday as their ball cap wearing preacher, Eric Church, sporting his trademark sunglasses gave his sermon with swagger.

With guitar in hand, Church had the almost capacity crowd on their feet and two-stepping in the aisles for his just over 90 minute show that included three encore songs. The Blood, Sweat & Beers tour, with special guest Colt Ford, was the highest attended concert to date at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Backed by his guitar heavy band that also included a drum kit and a stand up bass at times, Church sang tunes from Chief. An album, that earned him the 2012 Country Music Awards album of the year and a Grammy nomination for best country album of the year.

From bar room confessionals to delicate ballads Church sang them and the crowd loved them. A low-key stage set up of whiskey barrels and a rotating backdrop was complimented by pyrotechnics from fireworks, lazer beams to shooting flames at key moments. And that was just the warm up said Church.

"I told you we aren't messing around up here. We ain't playing," he said to the adoring crush of fans with their drinks held up in the air.

The choir wasn't sipping on holy water either. Beer and any mention of Jack Daniels got the crowd amped. Smoked poured onto the stage as laser lights beamed eerily across the arena for his hit song Creepin and it was obvious this wasn't like any concert seen at the SOEC before. It may have been country at heart, but this was a rock show.

"There isn't going to be any more shows in this building because we are going to burn this son of a bitch down," screamed Church who then asked the crowd to give everything they got to help him sing the chorus of Drink In My Hand.

The appreciative Church choir pounded their seats and screamed, shaking the SOEC until the man of the night came back out for an encore. He obliged handing out high five's to those on the floor and treated them to a second round. Those on the floor in the front lifted their boots in the air as Church sang These Boots from his 2006 album Sinners Like Me. One lucky fan had their boot pulled from the crowd by Church who held it up in the air as he eloquently sang the lyrics. At the end of the song, he signed it and handed it back. Church capped off the night with the perfect ending performing his critically acclaimed hit Springsteen.

Not to be missed was the opening act Colt Ford, who impressed the arena as it filled up for the headliner. His brand of genre bending country/hip hop primed everyone for Church. Ford's band was exceptional as they mugged it up for the crowd playing tracks from Ford's Declaration of independence album and took a break from his discography for Devil Went Down To Georgia and Give It Away by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

No need to tell me Eric Church gave the best live performance in the SOEC to date, you'd just be preaching to the choir.

Kristi Patton is the Entertainment editor of the Penticton Western News.



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