CRAVEN — When it comes to performing, Dierks Bentley isn’t the wild child he once was.
Now that’s not to say that Bentley, who hit the Country Thunder Saskatchewan main stage Friday night as the headliner, has lost his enthusiasm or flare for entertaining. However, there is a distinct difference on how Bentley runs through a show now — at 42 he understands the he doesn’t have to keep his foot on the gas for the entire set.
His shows now reflect the evolution of his career, a journey that has seen Bentley collect 17 No. 1 hits while earning a spot in the top echelon of country music. It’s obvious that Bentley still loves performing but his style isn’t as aggressive as it was in the earlier days. He’s smooth and confident on stage and he wears his stardom rather comfortably.
Bentley last played the festival in 2014 — it was the Craven Country Jamboree back then and he was the Saturday night headliner. Putting the rebranding of the festival aside, Bentley was pleased to be back in the Qu’Appelle Valley.
“It’s so good to be back,” he told the crowd early in his set. “It almost feels like home.”
Like his shows, Bentley’s set list echoes his evolution and maturity, as both an artist and a man. The quality of his material is top notch but what gives Bentley an extra edge is that his songs are multi-dimensional.
He has a knack for writing fun, party tunes but he’s also capable of deeply emotional songs that connect with the hearts and souls of his fans. He certainly isn’t a one-trick pony.
Bentley opened his 18-song, 80-minute set with The Mountain, the title track from his latest album that was released on June 18. He followed up with I Hold On and Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go) with Bentley getting into the show by sprinting up and back the runway from the stage while slapping hands with the fans.
While he made sure to include a number of the hits in the set like Somewhere On A Beach, 5-1-5-0, Different For Girls, Am I The Only One, What What I Thinkin’ and Sideways, Bentley also made sure to introduce the fans to tracks from the new album.
In addition to the title track, Bentley also played Burning Man, Woman Amen and Living.
In his introduction for Living, Bentley told the crowd, “What a night. What a feeling. Some days you get by, some days you survive but tonight you guys are doing some living.”
Living is an excellent example of the depth of Bentley’s songwriting. The song delves into the struggles and joys of every day life and how people need to continue living their best each and every day.
But the show also had its lighter moments. Bentley spotted a fan waving a sign that read, ‘Let’s Shotgun Dierks!’ Bentley asked the man if he was up to the challenge of finishing second and when the man agreed, he got hauled up on stage for a quick contest.
After they finished — it’s still not clear who won the contest — Bentley asked the fan if he had anything to say and the reply came quickly: “I love Craven.”
Drunk On A Plane, which has become Bentley’s trademark tune, also provided a bit of levity in the encore. After being introduced by a commercial for Dude Air that was right out of the 1970s, Bentley appeared on stage in a pilot’s uniform while he sang about a jilted groom who decides to go on his honeymoon anyways.
At his 2014 festival appearance, a female fan showed up dressed like a flight attendant and Bentley brought her on stage for the song. This time around it was a little different as someone brought two youngsters to the show dressed as a pilot and a flight attendant.
They joined Bentley on the stage and even took a crack at singing the chorus. It was an interesting turn of events, to say the least.
At the end of the night, the bottom line was quite simple — no matter which style Bentley decides to use, he’s still one of the top artists in country music today.
- The Mountain
- I Hold On
- Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)
- Somewhere On A Beach
- Woman, Amen
- Burning Man
- Up On The Ridge
- Different For Girls
- Am I The Only One
- Tip It On Back
- Say You Do
- What Was I Thinkin’
18. Drunk On A Plane
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