Known for always having his fans guessing what’s next, Eric Church kept a sold-out crowd on the edge of their seats when he brought his massive The Outsiders Revival World Tour to PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Friday night (August 25).
The iconic live show felt a little different than a typical night with the Chief, as it was the first time he’d bring his music catalog to outdoor amphitheaters across the U.S.
“When I approach touring, I’m always inspired by a new experience, a new way to gather, to express ourselves sonically and visually. Whether it’s solo, in the round, double down; being able to bring a different perspective has always brought out our best creatively,” he shared in a statement when the tour was announced.
He continued, “Well, we have never done an outdoor summer tour. Never headlined amphitheaters. Never brought a summer experience to your town that featured artists we want to share the summer with. Until now. See you in the season of sunshine with some fellow outsiders that shine brightest when the sun goes down.”
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Enlisting in chart-topping hitmakers Whiskey Myers as direct support to get the audience prepared for what they were about to endure for the next 90 minutes, the North Carolina native kicked things off with the upbeat “Chattanooga Lucy” before rolling into deep cuts like “Bad Mother Trucker,” “Heart On Fire,” and “Hangin’ Around,” followed by his breakout hit, “Drink In My Hand.”
Keeping it all about the music, Church churned out song after song while showcasing both his and his new 12-piece backing band’s true talents by incorporating numerous guitar and horn sequences, a cover of Little Feat’s “Sailin Shoes,” an unreleased acoustic track “On The Road,” and a reimagined version of his classic “Springsteen,” where he added a new verse in the beginning. He also honed in on some of his favorites from 2021’s Heart & Soul, and 2018’s Desperate Man, since he wasn’t able to properly explore those albums due to the global pandemic that restricted artists from putting on their usual live shows.
Being a “casual” Eric Church fan for nearly ten years, the I was absolutely in awe of the production the 46-year-old had prepared for his first proper tour since his Gather Again Tour in 2021. While many fans were outraged after hearing his song choices for CMA Fest back in June — which he said was just a taste of what The Outsiders Revival World Tour would be — I enjoyed hearing some of the chart-topper’s other offerings, as it painted a picture of who he is as an artist and why he was named CMA’s EOTY back in 2020. Not knowing what would be next not only kept me engaged the entire night, but also a more dedicated member of the “Church Choir.”
Up next, Eric will head back to Nashville for two intimate performances at the CMA Theater inside the Country Music Hall of Fame today (August 29) and tomorrow (August 30), as he’s been named CMHOF 18th artist-in-residence. According to a press release, the museum’s annual artist-in-residence series spotlights an artist with an exemplary body of work and asks the featured artist to create one-of-a-kind performances over multiple evenings. Joining the likes of previous participants like Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith, Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Rosanne Cash, Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Marty Stuart and John Prine, the museum offers its intimate CMA Theater as a blank canvas, with the understanding that the artist will curate shows that inspire appreciation for their talents and vision – often incorporating different themes and special guests.