For country fans, the Jagermeister Country Tour was one you couldn’t miss, especially if you’re a fan of Dierks Bentley, Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown. The tour made its way through the city of Chicago at the UIC Pavillion on April 30th to give thousands of fans a chance to see what each of these artists brought to the table. Check out our review after the break.
Country music rolled into the Windy City Saturday night when The Jagermeister Country Tour dominated UIC Pavilion. The artists Miss Willie Brown, Josh Thompson and headliner Dierks Bentley rocked the stage. After Thompson performed his first song he yelled to the crowd, “I hope you’re ready to party because you’re sure in for one.” That’s exactly what the Jagermeister Country Tour was – a giant country music party.
Never having heard Miss Willie Brown before, I wasn’t sure what Dierks Bentley’s first round of musical support would bring. They opened with their single “Sick of Me.” Kasey and Amanda, the one-two punch of vocals that make up Miss Willie Brown, hold nothing back. Their in-your-face lyrics in songs like “Bonafide” and “Good Fight” mixed with catchy melodies and a super-high energy stage performance make it hard not to dance along. The duo, backed by an awesome band, got the crowd on their feet, but also knew how to slow it down. “Freeland” – a ballad that pays tribute to the military – showcased the strength in both women’s vocals beautifully. Miss Willie Brown was just the right amount of silly, crazy, and powerhouse vocals.
Introduced by US99’s own Lisa Dent, Josh Thompson performed next. It wasn’t long before I found myself singing along with his set. Songs like “Way Out Here” and “You Ain’t Seen Country Yet” could easily be an anthem for the world of country music. The crowd moved and grooved, hands in the air, dancing along to songs about country boys, beer, and broken hearts. Thompson took it down a notch, letting his voice shine throughout the slower-tempo song “Sinner.” He seemed so at ease on stage. By now the number of pavilion patrons had practically doubled in size. He revved the audience and created a great vibe for Dierks Bentley.
Then the lights went out and an up-tempo, remixed version of “Sweet Home Alabama” blared from the speakers. As everyone started dancing, the song faded out and Dierks Bentley’s band started playing an extended intro to “Feel That Fire.” You could feel the anticipation buzzing through the audience as everyone impatiently waited for Dierks to sing the opening line, and when he did, the crowd exploded with a deafening roar of excitement.
He played old favorites like “Lot of Leavin’ Left To Do” and “Every Mile A Memory” and the crowd sang every word along with him. “Come A Little Closer” had country couples swooning throughout the pavilion. While a lot of the crowd could have easily fallen off during his slower-paced love songs, like “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”, Bentley’s emotionally-charged performance kept everyone’s eyes on him, hanging on his every lyric. He can hype a crowd like nobody else.
I was surprised that he only played two songs off of his most recent album, Up On The Ridge. Having said that, the two he chose didn’t disappoint. Cassady Feasby, his bassist, sang along for his cover of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love).” He switched up the ending to one of my favorite songs, “Up On the Ridge”, jamming out with the full band, then dwindling down to just the fiddle and guitar. It sounded both eerie and gorgeous.
Bentley also played some of his new material off of his album set to be released in August. The party song “Am I The Only One” was the first new track. He led into a brand new song entitled “Fastback” using an endearing story about him choosing between an ex-girlfriend and her car. He also debuted the song “Diamonds Make Babies” – a hilarious and cautionary tale of what happens post-engagement ring.
Later, Bentley even ran the audience through a medley of what late nights are like on the Jagermeister Country Tour. Between the hours of 1:00 am through 3:30 am you’re likely to hear George Strait, Billy Idol, and Bonjovi.
With Bentley you don’t just get live music and he isn’t just a singer. You get a musician, a comedian, a storyteller – an all-around entertainer. He knows exactly what buttons to push to make the audience go crazy, having just as much fun at the show as the audience does. The interesting instrumentation included banjo, mandolin, stand up bass– not your average country concert. The great thing about Bentley is that his voice always sounds just as good live, if not better, as it does on his recordings. He is such an honest performer who moves so naturally on stage. Dierks Bentley belongs in front of a crowd.
Information about the tour…
Tour: Jagermeister Country Tour feat. Dierks Bentley
Artists: Dierks Bentley (Capitol Records Nashville), Josh Thompson (Columbia Records Nashville) and Miss Willie Brown (A&M Octone Records)
Date: April 30, 2011
Venue: UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL