Dierks Bentley brought his Riser Tour to Mohegan Sun last night and gave the sold-out crowd a performance to talk about with some help from his buddies Eric Paslay and Randy Houser. It was Paslay who set the tone, opening the show with seven of his most successful songs. An under the weather Randy Houser was next to the stage, who didn’t let his health get in the way of his typical country rock performance. And Dierks bentley closed the show, giving the crowd everything he had as he navigated his way through a hit heavy setlist.
The show began with Eric Paslay. A talented songwriter and budding artist, Paslay showed Mohegan Sun why many believe he has a promising career. He got the crowd into things right away as he opened his seven song set with the up beat “Like a Song,” before launching into Jake Owen’s number one hit “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” a song Paslay penned. With the crowd warmed up, Paslay stripped things down for a heartfelt rendition of his current single “She Don’t Love You.” It was here Paslay shined. By opening the song acoustically the crowd got a taste of his strong vocals. The performance only got better as his band joined in, giving the song a fuller sound. It’s a song that we’ve touched on before as being perhaps one of the best out on radio right now, and Paslay definitely didn’t disappoint. His set finished with his first two singles “Song About a Girl” and “Friday Night,” both of which got much of the crowd on it’s feet and ready for Randy Houser.
After a short wait Randy Houser was next to the stage. Despite missing the previous night with an undisclosed illness, Houser was able to shine vocally. His eleven song set gave fans a taste of all three of his albums, but focused mostly on his most recent release How Country Feels. Houser performed the four singles off of the album as well as “Growin’ Younger” and “Absolutely Nothing,” which both seemed to win the crowd over. However, it was his performance of his current single “Like a Cowboy” that stole the show. Similar to Paslay the song opened stripped down with just Houser and his guitar, something that more artists should do. It was here that Houser was able to showcase his strong vocal ability, while not losing any of the song’s appeal. Stopping shortly to allow the band to sync up, the crowd roared.
Another staple of Houser’s live shows is his cover of the Garth Brooks’ hit “Friends in Low Places.” As usual it only took a few strums of the guitar for the crowd to come to it’s feet and belt out the hit. With Mohegan Sun singing along Houser led an essential sing along, giving him to rest his voice for the close of his set. He finished things off with the biggest hit of his career “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and the backwoods jam “Whistlin’ Dixie.” However, it wasn’t Houser who shined here rather Ward Williams, Houser’s steel guitarist, stole the attention of the crowd by taking off his shirt. With the crowd cheering he made his way to the end of the stage and gave them a short solo before returning to his post. Houser thanked the now full arena and informed them that Dierks was ready to bring it.
A nearly thirty minute layoff separated Houser’s the close of Houser’s set and the beginning of Bentley’s. The long wait had the crowd restless and ready to go when the lights finally dimmed and the music cranked back up. Bentley opened his set with some of his most party friendly songs. “5-1-5-0,” “Tip it on Back,” and “Am I the Only One” all came early on in his nearly ninety minute set.
Bentley noted earlier in the year that he had modeled much of his on stage performance style from Kenny Chesney. This was something that was apparent back in August when he joined Luke Bryan’s That’s My Kind of Night Tour at Gillette Stadium and was again on display last night at Mohegan Sun. Bentley utilized every inch of the stage and even sprinted from one side to the other on a few occasions. Many artists find their guitar to be a bit of a ball and chain, limiting their energy on stage. That was not the case for Bentley who had no problem slinging the instrument on his back and jumping around.
About halfway through his set Bentley and his guitarists made their way through the crowd to a B-stage set up in the back of the arena. This is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows those in the back to really connect with their favorite artist. Hats off to Bentley for taking the time to interact with audience members as he walked from the main stage to the back; even pausing for a couple pictures. Once on stage Bentley covered Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and offered a stripped down version of his somber new single “Say You Do.”
Dierks Bentley finished his set with “What Was I Thinkin” beforeexiting the stage only to return to perform three of his biggest hits. First, Bentley lead a sing along of the biggest hit of his career “Drunk on a Plane.” Usually Bentley brings a fan on stage to sing the final chorus with him, but after the events in Hershey, PA earlier this week he decided it was best for the audience to stay in their seats.
From there he brought Houser and Paslay to the stage for his 2009 hit “Sideways.” It’s moments like this when you can tell just how close artists become on the road. Bentley, Houser, and Paslay looked to be the best of friends as the moved about the stage joking around with one another. As the openers exited Bentley spoke to the crowd about the importance of the men and women in our armed services. Following a loud cheer Bentley began arguably his best song “Home.” Here it was a little girl who stole the show when she was pulled up on stage and given a guitar which Bentley signed. He let the girl stay on stage as he and the band made their way to the top of the risers and thanked the crowd for their support.