It was an old fashioned honky tonk type party Saturday night at The Joint as Dierks Bentley played to a rowdy crowd in his final show before gearing up for the CMA Awards later this week. Bentley played a high-paced, in your face style of country music that at the very least had everyone’s feet tapping. Most of the crowd, overwhelmingly females, were on their feet for the length of the show dancing and singing along.
The honky tonk vibe was evident early on in the show as a scuffle broke out in the pit with one person being escorted out by security personnel. Bentley took a break during his song to encourage the crowd to enjoy themselves but not to cause any trouble. "You guys calm down out there, there’s no need for that," he said. In between songs he rationalized the incident as one of circumstance. "The name of this place is The Joint, makes sense," he said with a laugh. "We’ve played in a few joints in our days, we haven’t seen a good fight in a while."
As the clock struck show time, the anticipation built. Six large beach balls began making their way around the audience, then in a flash the house lights came down and Bentley and crew took to the stage. Bentley started off with the self-titled single off of his newest album "Up on the Ridge", which was a refreshing up-tempo number with a heavy dose of banjo that made the song scream bluegrass.
"Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)" and "Feel That Fire" followed before Bentley slowed things down a bit with "Trying to Stop Your Leaving". Following the slower tune, they went back to the quicker stuff with the higher tempo "Lot of Leaving left to Do".
Bentley then traded some words with the crowd before dedicating "Little Heartwrecker" to "all the heartwreckers out there." He continued to power through his set as he ran across the stage slapping the hands of fans in the front row.
Following "Settle for a Slowdown" Bentley once again engaged the crowd, leading them in a sing-along of George Strait‘s "All my Exes Live in Texas". "George Strait turned me back on to country music when I was 17," said Bentley before the audience erupted in cheers when the steel guitar started off with the well-known opening chord of the song.
Following that cover, Bentley told the story of how he came up with his own break-up song. "One of my first concerts was Garth Brooks and he did a song called Unanswered Prayers that made a big impact on me. I was having problems with this girl and I thought a really smart way to fix the problem would be to ask her to marry me," he said. "Thank God she said no," he added with a laugh before starting into "How I’m Doin’".
The song talks about a man getting back out into the dating scene after a break up. Bentley turned on his charm during a vocal break in the song, as he took a seat on the edge of the stage. He then took the hand of a woman in the front row, asked her name before introducing himself. "Hi, I’m Dierks, so where’s the party after the show?" he said, before looking back at his band and saying "Oops, I’m sorry, I’ve got to go" and hopping up and finishing the song.
Bentley continued on through the hits, even crossing the boundary of country and rock, leading the crowd in a sing-along of Billy Idol‘s "Rebel Yell" between "Sideways" and "Draw Me a Map". Bentley had the entire crowd on it’s feet when he launched into his hit "What Was I Thinkin’". And much like it began, with a flash, the show was over. Bentley and his band stood center stage and bowed while the house speakers blasted Dropkick Murphys‘ "I’m Shipping Up to Boston".
In all, Bentley did not disappoint. The show was a little short time-wise, but that could probably be attributed to the fast-paced music that he played. With the attitude he displayed and energy he had, it is clear to see that Dierks Bentley will be a regular on the country music circuit for years to come.