Eric Church rocks the Ralph

Eric Church performs at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

Thousands of fans drove from all directions Tuesday night to see Eric Church perform at the Ralph Engelstad Arena as a part of his The Outsiders World Tour.

The famous country singer played for almost three hours, telling the crowd if it kept cheering, he’d keep playing.

The concert started out with a bang, and fans grabbed their beers and got on their feet for “The Outsiders,” as the crowd on the floor aggressively worked to make it to the front in order to be one of the lucky few to shake hands with Church.

The stage was set up in a big loop with two long runways jutting out into the floor crowd, but Church made sure to walk around and change locations for each song so that everyone got a view of his just-tight-enough light wash jeans, black T-shirt and tan cowboy boots.

Church’s band members all got their time in the spotlight, too, with various solos throughout the performance, and Church’s energy keeping the whole group ablaze with life.

The lights at the show were a performance in and of themselves, with a rainbow of colors and shapes dancing around the crowd and stage — it’s no wonder Church wears his aviators sunglasses at every concert.

A large jumbotron located directly above the drummer, center stage, displayed a vast number of camera views, with different filters adding to the effect, making the whole performance a well-produced music video.

Even with a constant stream of energy emanating from him, Church was able to drastically change the mood in the arena by slowing it down with songs such as his No. 1 hit “Homeboy.”

The North Carolina native made an extra effort to connect with the crowd. Early on in the concert, Church bent down and asked a girl in the crowd what song she would like him to sing, and she picked “Chevy Van.”

Church also pulled out a sharpie and signed two fans’ cowboy boots that were thrown on stage during his song, “These Boots.”

He also played “Cold One,” “Drink in my Hand” and “Smoke a Little Smoke,” a few of his more popular singles, which kept fans on their feet for the duration of the performance, though their balance at the end of the concert was not as stable as when it started.

Around 10:30 p.m. Church told the audience, “This is the part where we decide how long we want to play,” and the response of deafening screams from the crowd got him to go for another hour.

Before his last song, “Springsteen,” Church got serious and told the audience why he finds music so special.

“Music captures a moment in time,” Church said. “You hear a song and you’re that age again … that’s what tonight’s about. And it’s about right now.”

Although I’ve never been a fan of country music, Eric Church may have just changed my mind.

Other than my difficulty understanding parts of what he said or sang, the concert was a thrilling ride from melancholic memories to a celebration of the here and now. I give this performance a 4 out of 5 stars.

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].