Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Review: Eric Church's 'Caught in the Act: Live' has an outlaw vibe

In typical North Carolina ne'er-do-well style, Eric Church gives you options with his new album, the loud, lewd, raucously 100-proof Caught in the Act: Live.

You can buy this sucker for your iPod or CD player. Or you can wait until April 20, Record Store Day, and grab a double-vinyl gatefold version with extra tracks plus a "whiskey-infused" 45 rpm single. Play it — or melt it and drink it!

You gotta love Church. Along with his country-spitfire counterpart Miranda Lambert, the 35-year-old has brought a true outlaw vibe back to safe, staid Nashville. The guy does it right and real and rowdy, including reviving the old-school fun of a live LP, a seemingly long-dead format that always works best as a party platter. And as for that "gatefold" presentation — double-album art that unfolds like a picture book — well, boys and girls, ask anyone over 40 what you're supposed to do with that.

Church has taken his time with stardom, playing gig after gig, at roadhouses and barbecue fests, honing his live chops and rising up at his own genuine pace. Wow, has that paid off. Now he's opening for Kenny Chesney's stadium swing, where he's arguably stealing the show with a set that recently polarized a Tampa crowd into half head-banging, half stunned. Me? I hadn't been that inspired in a long time.

Recorded over two nights in Chattanooga's Tivoli Theatre, the 17-track Caught in the Act comes close enough to capturing that chest-beating, crowd-imploring energy of his shows, which blend metallic thunder and shaggy moonshine stomp, Church's hounddog whine snaking through it all like wire.

Unlike the more-is-more country mindset of releasing product, Church has dropped just three albums in the past seven years, the latest, 2011's Chief, winning the Country Music Association's album of the year. As a result of his careful artistic approach, Church doesn't do filler or bathroom breaks; even slower songs here such as Sinners Like Me have naughty hungover charm. He may deal in the same boots-and-booze bromides as his peers, but not only does he write his own stuff, he lives and believes it, too.

The hard stuff is the draw, and Church's ferocious band — including the guitar onslaught of Driver Williams, Jeff Cease and Jeff Hyde — attacks every cut like a challenge, from the honky-tonk breakout of Country Music Jesus to the lumbering thump of I'm Gettin' Stoned. Drink in My Hand remains one of the purest fist-pumps of weekend affirmation; and when he implores during the song "I'm going to give you every ounce of everything I have from here to the end," it's not a line, it's a promise.

For all the aural fisticuffs, Church forgoes a final haymaker and closes with a nine-minute version of ballad Springsteen, which includes the same breathtaking coda as when he played the Chesney gig at Ray Jay. He amends the song with a spare, slow reading of the titular hero's Born to Run. It's a gorgeous homage to memory and the man himself. And if you're a fervent Church believer like me, it may also sound like the eventual passing, from the Boss to the Chief, of the royal live-show torch.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
Neil Diamond says he has Parkinson’s, retires from touring

Neil Diamond says he has Parkinson’s, retires from touring

NEW YORK — Neil Diamond is retiring from touring after he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who turns 77 on Wednesday, is canceling his tour dates in Australia and New Zealand for March. He was on his 50...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SoundBytes: Dierks Bentley, Kris Kristofferson, Anthony Jeselnik and more

SoundBytes: Dierks Bentley, Kris Kristofferson, Anthony Jeselnik and more

— Add another concert to the pile of potential Country Megaticket shows at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre: Dierks Bentley. The country superstar announced he'll be coming to Tampa this summer with Brothers Osborne and LANCO, but n...
Published: 01/22/18
These music icons have surprisingly never won a Grammy

These music icons have surprisingly never won a Grammy

By MESFIN FEKADUNEW YORK CITY — It’s a hard pill to swallow, but listen to this: Diana Ross has never won a Grammy. She’s part of a group of iconic musicians who can’t call themselves Grammy winners, including Bob Marley, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys,...
Published: 01/22/18
Daryl Hall and John Oates, Train coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Daryl Hall and John Oates, Train coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Just try to feel bad after seeing this show. It's impossible. Can't be done.Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Daryl Hall and John Oates are heading back on the road this summer, and they're doing it with perennially sunny pop-rock hitmakers Train. They'll...
Published: 01/22/18
Jake Owen, Dustin Lynch to headline concert at PGA’s Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor

Jake Owen, Dustin Lynch to headline concert at PGA’s Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor

After a five-year absence from Tampa Bay, Jake Owen is making up for lost time in 2018.Days after headlining the U.S. 103.5 Throwdown By the Bay at Amalie Arena, it was announced Owen will return to Tampa Bay to headline the annual Saturday night con...
Published: 01/22/18
Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Schoolboy Q, more coming to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Schoolboy Q, more coming to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

With the Grammys on Sunday, it's poised to be a big week for Kendrick Lamar. So he's planning a victory tour with his whole team.Lamar's label, Top Dawg Entertainment, just announced an all-star tour toppeed by Kung-Fu Kenny; acclaimed R&B sensation ...
Published: 01/22/18
SoundBytes: Fall Out Boy, Indigo Girls, Spin Doctors, Erasure and more

SoundBytes: Fall Out Boy, Indigo Girls, Spin Doctors, Erasure and more

— If you missed Fall Out Boy's Tampa concert last fall, they're coming to Orlando in September. They'll play the Amway Center with Machine Gun Kelly on Sept. 16. Click here.— Moon Taxi will join Fitz and the Tantrums on the bill for a fre...
Published: 01/19/18
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

We're about a week out from the announcement of Live Nation's 2018 Country Megaticket, a multi-concert package that usually brings about a half-dozen acts to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. As such, country acts left and right are slipping ...
Published: 01/19/18
Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

FORT LAUDERDALE — Rapper Kodak Black has been ordered held without bail in Florida on seven felony charges that include child neglect and drug possession.The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested the 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dieuson Octave,...
Published: 01/19/18
Journey, Def Leppard coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Journey, Def Leppard coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Your radio is going on tour.At least, it'll feel that way when Journey and Def Leppard, two of the most-played, most popular classic rock groups of all time, team up for a summer co-headlining trek featuring an absolute cavalcade of hits: Don't Stop ...
Published: 01/19/18