April 8, 2011
Billy Bob's Texas
Fort Worth, TX USA
Review by Jeff Jones
Photos by Jeff Jones
I still am coming to grips with the fact Jagermeister is sponsoring a country music tour. It was even more astounding that Dierks Bentley was tapped as the headlining act. Then again, expect the unexpected when it comes to this 35-year old performer. For instance, conventional wisdom has an artist putting out a greatest hits album at the tail end of his career. Not this cowboy. He figured with three solo recordings under his belt, it was just time to put one out. And to make it more interesting, why not let the fans chose the songs they thought were the hits. Yeah, welcome to the unpredictable world of this "modern day drifter."
Billy Bob's wasn't an official stop on the liqueur makers tour. However, with time off until the next official tour stop in Asheville, North Carolina a week away, why not stop off at your favorite honky tonk in America, hang out and play some music. That's exactly what Dierks and the boys did. Without fellow Jagermeister travelers Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown on the bill, a young and energetic crowd greeted the band with rip-roaring enthusiasm, and yes, Jager shots provided by some very cute and accommodating waitresses.
Bentley wasted no time getting the crowd up on their feet, and staying there, as he opened the show in rapid succession with his chart topping singles, "Feel the Fire" and "Every Mile a Memory". From that point on, the audience was revved up and ready to go. Backed by a tight five-piece band, the hit parade continued with "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)" and "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do." The crowd finally caught their breath when Bentley took things down a notch. The band turned in their electric instruments for a stand up bass, mandolin and acoustic guitars to play the bluesy title track from Dierks recently nominated Grammy album, Up on the Ridge. He then followed that tune with another one of his timeless hits, "Settle for a Slowdown."
As Dierks' band created a tight circle on the stage, the singer talked about life on the bus and the music you might hear on any given day. It might be a Waylon tune, which stirred the crowd up, or maybe a little "Rebel Yell" which the band immediately launched in to. The stripped down, bluesy acoustic version of the Billy Idol classic would have made the artist proud. And if that wasn't surprise enough, they also covered Bon Jovi's "Wanted (Dead or Alive)" and U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)".
Throughout the evening, Bentley enjoyed some playful banter with the crowd. One exchange with a recently engaged couple had everyone laughing, especially when Dierks dedicated a song from his upcoming album to them, "Diamonds Make Babies." Ever the showman, the singer prowled the front of the stage urging women to 'come a little closer' as he launched into yet another one of this No. 1 hits. Ever the gentleman, Bentley held hands with a lucky few as he sang the song. The show ended with his breakout hit, "What Was I Thinking."
During his set, Bentley told the assembled audience Billy Bob's was one of his favorite venues to perform in. Almost as soon as the band left the stage and the lights came on, the singer ran back out to the side stage. There he signed autographs, posed for pictures and took some time to speak to his fans. Dierks knows all about connecting with the crowd through his music. He fully understands how to toast his fans as well. No wonder Jagermeister chose him as their headlining act.