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For Church, music is indeed his mistress

TD Garden, Boston, February 2, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

"Mistress Named Music," the closing song to the first set, may just about some up Eric Church. He sang, "I got a crazy crazy heart, and I was born to lose it/Married to a dream with a mistress named music." Church certainly is in love with music and has successfully gone after and achieved his dream.

And as his current Double Town Tour shows, yet again, the North Carolinian is doing it his way. Church is doing two nights per city, and the sets are vastly different. Saturday's set in Boston, for example, repeated about 11 of tonight's 36 songs from the 34 the previous night.

Church interspersed new (he started with "Drowning Man") and old (he went way back to one of his first hits, "Two Pink Lines") to borrowed (a very reworked snippet of "Born to Run" within "Springsteen" as well as Sammy John's hit, a reinvented "Chevy Van" and Jackson Browne's "Stay" to close out the night).

Stylistically, Church is marketed as country. That's not quite the reality of his music, though as he was a combo of (very little) country, blues, a bit of gospel and rock. While some songs were electric based, others sported acoustic guitar as the dominant sound.

This was a concert without a lot of highs and lows. Maybe changing the songs so much from show to show including their order ("Music Named Mistress" closed out the Friday show) had something to do. Maybe inserting two songs making their tour debut did. There clearly was consistency from song to song within the sets of 70 and 95 minutes and the four-song encore. (The show clocked in at 3:05 hours)

The second half was more captivating, perhaps because it was more loaded with the hits, including the meaty "Give Me Back My Hometown," Record Year" and the current "Desperate Man" in succession. Church would pay homage to country trailblazers like Haggard, Jones and Cash in a way in a way that rang far more true than some of his country brethren of today.

He later shifted into high gear with the well-placed drinking song "Jack Daniels," which he said was the song that tended to transform concerts. One wouldn't argue that it changed the course of this show, but it was a welcome inclusion.

While almost unfortunately entirely uncredited by Church, his band remains a powerhouse. Driver Williams still offers muscular guitar licks (along with stints on keyboards), but he was aided quite a lot this time around by Jeff Cease.

Joanna Cotten, who once upon a time had her own solo career going, provided ample vocal back-up to Church with the two sometimes being center stage. Cotten also given the chance and ran with it to sing lead vocals on The Beatles' "Come Together."

There was a lot to like about Church on this evening. Given the formula of this tour, some doubtlessly would have been disappointed not to hear a particular song. Fortunately, Church also has a very wide selection of songs from which to choose to fill set lists with a lot of quality material.

That only indicated why music is indeed his mistress.