Taking advantage of the all-expenses pass given by the Country to Country music festival in London, many of the artists present at the UK festival have taken the time to go out of their way to explore some more of mainland Europe. Being one of my favourite countries in the world, there was no chance I would turn down the opportunity to see Eric Church play a club-venue in Germany. Greunspan, situated in the heart of the notorious red-light district of Hamburg, was a great venue, barely holding one thousand, and it did feel like time was turned back given that in America it is unlikely that you’ll see Eric playing anything less than an amphitheater or arena!
Supported by Andrew Combs, another artist I am very keen on, this was a great line up, and I would have been more than happy to travel to see him perform a headlining set. Unfortunately however, he was only allowed a short half hour slot, but it was clear that Andrew and his band of East Nashville hipsters made a strong impression in the short time, winning over the crowd to the extent where a fan shouted ”what’s your name again?” before the last song. Throughout the set I couldn’t help thinking that Andrew could well grow into a Jason Isbell figure in country/Americana given that his songs have a similar lyrical prowess and his live show is country with a hint of old-school rock and roll. A great set by Andrew, and I can’t wait for more!
After Andrew provided the country for the night, Eric Church showed everyone that he’s a f*cking rockstar, and probably disturbed the live-sex show happening next door by blowing the roof off Greunspan. Opening with the anthemic ‘Knives Of New Orleans’ was genius, although I’ve got to admit I wasn’t prepared for such a huge song so early in the set before I was warmed up!
This review will be particularly hard to write, because like Eric not having set-lists and taking requests throughout the show, I didn’t take any notes. However, I can’t imagine that matters a lot given that my notes would probably have gone something like this: ”
One of the more surprising songs of the night was just how amazing ‘Mr Misunderstood’ is live. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good song on record, but it is not one of my must-hears from his fantastic new album, yet the live performance gave it so much power. Likewise, ‘Mixed Drinks About Feelings’, ‘Record Year’ and particularly ‘Mistress Named Music’ were sensational, and Eric even admitted that this was the first time they had played ‘Mistress Named Music’ live.
Other highlights included all of the usual suspects like ‘Talladega’, ‘Give Me Back My Hometown’ and ‘Springsteen’, but actually it was some of his lesser-known songs that really took off, such as ‘Jack Daniels’ and ‘Lotta Boot Left To Fill’. By the end of the show Eric was just messing around on stage, to the point where when someone requested ‘The Outsiders’, he accepted but didn’t look too thrilled about it given the strain it would have on his voice, especially given that it would be the closer of the show after nearly 2 hours! Being one of my favourite songs, I’m so glad that Eric played it, and it was absolutely wonderful, a weirdly perfect closer to the show, leaving on a massive high!
Seeing Eric in a small venue should be on every fan’s bucket list. Given that that probably isn’t going to happen in the States, I can vouch that it is worth travelling to Europe for, especially when you get to explore wonderful cities like Hamburg. They even sell quality German beer at the concert, and it doesn’t cost a million dollars like a can of piss-water does at American venues!