Dierks Bentley. Juice file photo.
Country kickoff: Dierks Bentley review
Published on August 12th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
Country star Dierks Bentley last played central Iowa in February, when his and Miranda Lambert’s “Locked and Re-Loaded” tour rolled into Ames. The show arrived with a blizzard, which probably made Sunday night’s 80+ degree temperature at the Iowa State Fair Granstand feel a world away for the “What Was I Thinkin'” singer.
“This doesn’t feel like a Sunday, it feels like a Friday,” Bentley told the crowd early in the set.” “Sunday funday, right? Let’s make some good memories tonight.”
Bentley’s recent visit to Central Iowa didn’t put a damper on attendance for the evening, with 8,201 fans attending. Bentley’s songs set the tone for a fun-filled summer night, kicking the concert off with the party anthem “Am I the Only One.”
In his opening set, Justin Moore told the crowd that he and Bentley play “twangy country,” but Bentley has the stage presence and performance style of a rock act. Contrasting with Moore’s big white cowboy hat, Bentley kept things simple with a baseball cap. Bentley wandered the stage to sing at a number of mics spread around the stage. At the end of the first song he mimed smashing his acoustic guitar, Hendrix style. Of course, as he later pointed out before his new single “I Hold On,” he couldn’t part with that guitar; it’s signed by George Strait and George Jones.
He did end up parting with another guitar Sunday night, pulling a woman up on stage during “A Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” and putting an electric guitar around her neck as she danced enthusiastically around the stage. At the end of the show he signed the instrument and handed it to her in the crowd.
Moore’s set was more of a slow burn, starting his set with the more somber “Guns.” Moore’s songs are centered on small town life, with the show culminating in “Small Town USA.” It does set him apart from the sea of drinking songs that dominate now, but it did make the show seem a little one-note. But kudos to a name drop of Des Moines in “Flyin’ Down a Back Road” that wasn’t just inserted for the show. You’ll find it on the album “Outlaws Like Me.”
Bentley’s songs are more of the party/drinking variety, with the set including “5-1-5-0,” “Summer on Fire” and “Tip it On Back.” “What Was I Thinkin’?” focused on nights of hard partying and at the end of “Sideways” he just sat back on one of the stage’s many sets of stairs and raised a red Solo cup to the crowd.”
“I got no words left,” Bentley said at the end of his performance of “Home,” his last song of the night. As fireworks went off behind him, Bentley fell to his knees and basked int he love that flowed from the crowd. Sunday or not, some good memories were made for the crowd that night.