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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Concert review: Eric Church turns in memorable stadium debut, while Morgan Wallen is best forgotten

Country star Eric Church played his biggest Twin Cities concert on Saturday night, when he headlined US Bank Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly three nights at the church’s general haunt in Downtown Minneapolis at Target Center.

Yet for many in the drinking crowd, it was the Morgan Wallen concert followed by the Eric Church concert. Nearly every seat was filled for Wallen’s 90-minute performance, a rare sight for any stadium concert.

Wallen, of course, is notorious for bad behavior, which culminated in February 2021, when TMZ released a video of Wallen using a racial slur a few days earlier. In response, radio and streaming services pulled his music, while his label suspended his contract (temporarily as it turned out).

However, his fans apparently didn’t care. Wallen’s album sales increased after the event, and his short-lived effort “Dangerous: The Double Album” spent a record-breaking 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts. Wallen took a break from his currently ongoing major tour to play this only church show.

The thing about 29-year-old Wallen is that he is a songwriter. The hooks and crafting songs to them are so catchy that they sound familiar the first time you hear them. And I think it was the songs the crowd was cheering on, not Wallen himself.

That’s because the other thing about Wallen is that he’s not much of an artist. He showed a bit of charisma on Saturday night and offered a flat-out performance with sometimes eerie vocals. (The child will lose his voice if he does not hire someone to teach him to sing live.)

Wallen performed best with slower numbers like “7 Summers” and “Sand in My Boots”, which he performed from behind the piano. The opening act was also not bad in the duet “Flower Shops” with Ernest. But Wallen has a lot of work to do if he doesn’t want to be easily outdone by his number of teammates.

Not that Church is Wallen’s partner—his career began a dozen years ago and hasn’t peaked yet—but Wallen will learn a lot by watching a few Church shows.

Initially, Church, 45, explained that this was a special show just for Minneapolis, one of its strongest markets. Indeed, his recently wrapped tour didn’t include a local stop, which he noted off stage. (He played another one-off stadium show in Milwaukee last month and is hitting the festival circuit this summer.)

While Church has always been a wildly entertaining live artist, she felt more relaxed and focused than the usual Saturdays as she tore through a hit-heavy set list, which still includes her 2021 triple album “Heart and Soul”. Got space for some of the tracks.

After “The Outsiders” opened with a raucous run through, a smiling Church promised the crowd “It’s going to be one hell of a night.” And, for the most part, that was thanks to smart pacing and burning energy, not only from Church but from their entire band, including their backup vocalist Joanna Cotton.

Church downed an airplane-shaped bottle of whiskey during “Drink in My Hand” and talked about playing an eye-opening show in Kabouz early in his career, as did his 2006 first single. Was in the intro to “How ‘Bout You”. They opened several songs with longer runs on acoustic guitar, including their hit 2010 single “Smoke a Little Smoke”, which collapsed in the middle of the show but felt like an encore. It will be a tough night to get to the top of the church.

World Nation News Desk
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