The first stop on my USA adventure was Charlotte, North Carolina, solely for the reason of attending the magnificent Sounds Of Summer tour. Dierks has long been a favourite mine, and after his short set at c2c 2014, I really needed to see him again.
What was so special about this concert was actually the incredible support he brought along, with Canaan Smith being the only performer I wasn’t blown away with. For one, the sun was still going strong at 7 when Smith started his short set, creating a swelteringly hot climate which wasn’t helped by the music, which really failed to convince me, even though live music is usually much more of an indication of artistry than on record.
Maddie and Tae were never going to disappoint, since I already know and love them. Vocally they were stunning, and really upped the country, arguably more than rocker Kip Moore, or production-heavy Bentley did. ‘Fly’ was the highlight of the set, showing their outstanding harmonies beautifully, although the atmosphere for ‘Girl In A Country Song’ was pretty electric. The only fault in their set was their failure to identify a potential pun in their cover of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ where they should have sung ‘Tae Tae Tae’ rather than ‘Eh Eh Eh’!
Kip Moore was something else entirely. Having seen him in March, I knew how talented this guy is, and he didn’t disappoint, playing a good mix of old and new material, getting the crowd raucous for the first time as the sun went down. A personal highlight was his magical acoustic performance of ‘Hey Pretty Girl’, but in truth there was no fault in any of his set.
Now for Dierks. What can I say about Dierks apart from he is the complete performer. From shotgunning a beer on stage with a lucky fan to improvising a cover of Kid Rock’s ‘All Summer Long’ upon the request from a fan, the audience was in the palm of his hand. For me ‘Riser’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard, and true to form it was an incredible performance, with the band backing providing an epic weight to an already emotionally charged song.
I really can’t find fault with anything Dierks did on stage, and bringing Kip onstage for ‘Lot Of Leaving Left To Do’ was outstanding, with Kip’s rugged vocals complementing Dierks wonderfully. Likewise, finishing with a collaboration between himself, Maddie and Tae and Canaan Smith was also incredible, and it genuinely seems like they are all great friends, which only enhanced the live experience.
Finishing his encore with ‘Drunk On A Plane’ was electric, and never before have I seen a crowd so pumped up, throughout the night, but particularly for the finale. It is clear that Dierks is one of the most genuine, and loved, country stars around, and from his outstanding crowd interaction and even better music, I know why.