Eric Church at the Forum
Eric Church’s first ever gig in the UK is part of his aptly titled Blood, Sweat and Beers tour. For the duration of the show London’s Forum becomes America’s deep south and the crowd is transported to Church’s current home, Nashville, North Carolina. Looking at the audience it seems likely that the majority of fans are Americans residing in the UK – there are glittering Stetsons, cowboy boots and trucker caps to be seen in every direction. Eric’s musical sound is a fusion of pure country twang and heavy metal rock (he has previously supported Metallica).
Although not frequently topping the charts in the UK, country music is a force to be reckoned with across the Atlantic. Church is currently at the helm of the genre and the venue is hazy from the heat of all the bodies crammed in to see him. His third album Chief has been named “Album of the Year” at the Country Music Awards and by the Academy of Country Music. Similarly, singles from the album, co-written by Church, have reached number one in the US country charts.
This success is down to Church’s persona – a god-fearing good-time guy who references Christ (his recent single Like Jesus Does) and then veers into his love of marijuana and whisky: “I’ve thrown a punch or two and gave a few black eyes, but Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night”. Church has a whole song dedicated to his love of this particular brand and the crowd clearly shares his dedication, lifting their plastic cups as he sings an ode to his liquor muse, while bottles of the drink lie discarded outside the venue.
Church is met constantly with chants of “USA” and he moves across the stage in a thunderstorm of flashing lights and tumultuous smoke. Blocks are strategically placed along the front of the stage, wrapped in yellow “Caution” tape, which come in handy for the band. They revel in pulling rock-god postures and heavy metal style lunges atop these elevated platforms. Guitars are prominent throughout the set – from acoustic downtempo drawls to an array of five electric guitars pumping the audience into ecstasy with their screeching solos. This is country music but not for the faint-hearted.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information and future events visit Eric Church’s website here.
Watch the video for Like Jesus Does here: