The roughneck country boy rocks London.
Support: The Cadillac 3
I usually enjoy both kinds of music: yes, Rhythm AND Blues. So, it was interesting to see The Cadillac 3, fresh from having a song appear on the covermount CD of Classic Rock Blues magazine, supporting US Country star Eric Church at the 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. This review only came about after a bit of a scrum at home, two ladies seeing an image of Eric Church and vying for the right to join me. In the end, a Country music–loving male priest won, but that’s another story.
What this does show is that Eric is a good–looking man, and that was clear on stage, his square shoulders and trademark shades and occasional flashed smile and big gestures all part of a very strong connection with the audience. There was many an American in the house, often singing out the lyrics before Eric could.
The Cadillac 3 warmed up the audience well enough, playing a 30 minute set that was heavy enough to approach Heavy Metal volume, and which included that magazine–mounted song, Tennessee Mojo. They ended with a big flourish, lead singer and guitarist Jaren Johnston joining his drummer on the sticks and the pair pounding out some exciting sounds between them. Quite clearly, though, it was Eric the crowd was waiting for and it was quickly evident that this is a man who can write a classy song and assemble a band of multiple talents.
Mr Church has been described as too Rock for Country fans and too Country for Rock fans. The balance here was firmly on Rock, with a Country lightness and flavour and song here and there, but two of the surprising six guitarists on stage (including Eric and plus drummer) were out and out Rock dudes with splay–legged poses for their solos to match. Eric’s band often played it hard and loud, but genre issues apart, Eric sounded at least as good as he looked.
That boy can sing and with his array of guitarists switching their way through a battery of stringed instruments including banjo and mandolin as well as the screamers, there was variety, and there was a great sound. Above all, there was entertainment. Songs like 'Give Me Back My Hometown' were dramatic and outstanding. 'Jack Daniels' – a song of that title after two or three had already mentioned the liquor – was fine, built around the lyric, "Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night."
It was clear that what Eric is most about is the connection with the audience, his lyrics, his charisma, and 'Like Jesus Does' had the crowd determinedly singing along to what was a top song, a lovely romantic number. 'These Boots' was a warm crowd–pleaser, the audience on all levels of the venue waving cowboy boots in the air until Eric took a couple to illustrate the song, and to sign for the lucky owners before giving them back. The night – after twenty plus of Eric’s rich, mainly upbeat, up–tempo songs – ended on the final song of the encore, 'Springsteen', a real feelgood song. Of course, by then everyone felt good, and I had become, like them, a fan of the man in the baseball cap and shades.