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Dierks Bentley Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, London live review

Ahead of his new album Black, Dierks wowed the crowds in London.

Dierks Bentley
Credit: Capitol Records Nashville

Dierks Bentley is without a doubt one of the biggest artists in Country music. With 14 number one singles under his belt, his latest single Somewhere on a Beach currently at the top of the US Hot Country Songs chart, he continues to build on his success with every album he releases. His eighth studio album Black arrives on 27th May and the collection promises to be his most varied yet. Last night UK fans got their first taste of the record as Dierks performed several cuts during his Somewhere on a Beach tour, which arrived at the Eventim Apollo in London.

Whatever my expectations were going into the show last night, I can safely say I was completely blown away by Dierks. Not only did he deliver a set that celebrated his entire career so far, he possesses a natural showmanship that few other artists could replicate. His set opened with the bluegrass gem Up on the Ridge from his 2010 album of the same name. It was a high energy start to the night and to be honest the energy never let up, not even during the evening’s slower songs.

In part playing like a greatest hits set, Dierks’ show took the opportunity to introduce fans to some new cuts from forthcoming album Black. Somewhere on a Beach was an obvious highlight of the evening and his solo rendition of I’ll Be the Moon, which features Maren Morris on the recorded version, was pretty special to witness. Other songs from the new record included the moody title track Black, the soaring Freedom and the morning after hangover panic of What the Hell Did I Say, which I’m hoping is a single in the near future.

With so many music legends passing recently, Dierks stopped to pay tribute to Prince but explained he wasn’t going to attempt to cover one of the purple one’s classic hits. Instead he paid tribute to the late Merle Haggard by performing a cover of The Running Kind. It’s easy to see how Dierks has been influenced by Haggard and it was a touching moment during the evening.

Elsewhere in the set the raucous 5-1-5-0 was an absolute blast, the stirring I Hold On had the crowd swaying, and Say You Do was one of the biggest sing-a-long moments of the night. Dierks took us all the way back to the beginning with a fantastic rendition of What Was I Thinkin’ and he performed fan favourite Riser, which had been omitted from earlier shows much to the dismay of his fans. The set came to a close with the catchy Drunk on a Plane, which was a fitting end to a fantastic evening of live music.

Watching Dierks perform live is a pretty special thing. Alongside the fantastic songs, Dierks sounded fantastic and his band was super tight. Throughout the night Dierks took the time to interact with fans even crowd surfing at one point much to the delight of a very grabby bunch of fans near the front. He also pulled someone up from the audience to do a shot of Patron early on in the set.

As I left the venue last night my over-riding thought was ‘when is Dierks coming back to play again?’ His show is one of the best I’ve seen of any genre with high energy and lots of great music. There are few performers that can hold a crowd the way that he did last night and I hope it’s not too long before he’s back performing for his UK fans again. If you’ve yet to seem him live, cancel all your plans and make sure you catch him next time he’s over.

Set List: 1. Up on the Ridge 2. Free and Easy 3. Tip It On Back 4. Am I the Only One 5. 5-1-5-0 6. Say You Do 7. What the Hell Did I Say 8. I Hold On 9. Every Mile a Memory 10. Riser 11. Freedom 12. The Running Kind (Merle Haggard cover) 13. Lot of Leavin’ to Do 14. Black 15. Somewhere on a Beach 16. What Was I Thinkin’ 17. Sideways 18. I’ll Be the Moon 19. Drunk on a Plane Performance Date: 22nd April 2016

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