News Column

Dierks Bentley delivers at his headliner debut at Verizon

July 21, 2014

By Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 21--Grab the bibles and fire up your lie detector machine -- because Dierks Bentley swore on both that Sunday night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater was the best night of his life.

And music-wise, it may have been as he headlined the venue for the first time and marveled aloud at the large crowd that showed up on a Sunday night -- outdrawing perennial St. Louis favorite Sammy Hagar, who had the Saturday night date.

Touring to support his commercially and critically acclaimed "Riser," album, the curly-haired country star took the stage and just stood for a moment, arms outstretched and grinning widely as he opened with "5150" before jumping into "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go) and "Am I the Only One."

That's when he took his first real pause to tell the fans that they were rocking harder on a Sunday night than most towns do on a Saturday. Thus encouraged, the crowd kept it up all night.

Bentley may have had some Jolt cola before the night started, as he ran, jumped, kicked and cavorted across the stage. Rarely does he stand still during a show, and never does his strong voice suffer for it.

One semi-surprise was including "Bourbon in Kentucky" in the set list, a dark song that got an enthusiastic response.

Not quite as enthusiastic, however, as when Bentley pulled a fan up on stage and challenged him to shotgun a beer -- of course Bentley won but hey, the dude got a few minutes of fame and a free beer.

Bentley broke up the set by heading to a stage toward the back of the seats to cover "Counting Stars" and a nice version of "Living on a Prayer" -- a tribute to the first concert he ever went to -- Bon Jovi at 13.

He added "Pretty Girls Drinking Tallboys" and "Come a Little Closer" before he headed back to the mainstage, where he patted himself down to make sure he still had all his working bits after navigating the hand-slappers and body-grabbers in the crowd.

The biggest hit of the night, crowd-pleasing wise, was no doubt "Drunk on a Plane," as the crowd threw Mardi Gras beads on stage, Bentley draped them on his guitar and grabbed two fans wearing pilot hats, sunglasses and tank tops on stage for part of the number.

Another nice twist came as the show was wrapping up. But instead of leaving the stage and returning for the "encore," they stayed on stage and Bentley said sure, they'd play a few more.

For the encore of "Sideways," Bentley brought out his three openers -- Chris Young, Chase Rice and Jon Pardi. Young has a string of No. 1 hits on his resume and put on a polished 55-minute set.

Both Rice, who sings "Ready, Set, Roll" and Pardi show plenty of potential.

Amanda St. Amand is the Continuous News Editor. Follow her on Twitter @mandystlpd


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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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