I was absolutely gobsmacked on being handed a neat sticker with ‘Dierks Bentley – Dublin 4-21-2016’ as I left the Olympia after the gig. The woman who handed it to me said ‘I could see you enjoying yourself and we had these made for tonight. Isn’t he wonderful?’, in a heartland American accent. Apparently there is a pretty large group of American fans who follow Dierks just about anywhere, something I remember from his Dublin debut at Whelans over 10 yeas ago.
Tucker Beathard opened the evening with a gritty-voiced, well received acoustic/electric set, with his songs appealing particularly to the American contingent, who seemed to know every word.
Dierks and the band came on at 10 to 9 and opened with Up on the Ridge which started off acoustic but was the full electric band by the end of the song. The band are fabulous musicians; two electric/acoustic guitarists who double on mandolin and fiddle, a steel player who also plays banjo and Dobro and a very powerful yet subtle drummer.
The set was full of hits Free and Easy(Down the Road I Go), 5-1-5-0, I Hold on, What was I Thinkin’?, Drunk on a Plane (the second and final encore), Riser and Somewhere on a Beach, Dierks’ current single which was a Billboard number 1 on the night. He also played a Merle Haggard cover, The Running Kind and included some songs from his new, about to be released album Black; the lovely cheatin’ song I’ll be the Moon and, in response to an unexpected request from the audience, Freedom.
A frequent visitor to Dublin, Dierks seemed pleased to be here and to be playing the Olympia. The sound was variable, but mainly good, but LOUD which really showed when he played the Merle Haggard tribute which was quiet but gutsy.
I’m still startled by the audience participation – everyone knows the songs, and by gum, they sing along. Quite unlike the days when you went to a gig to actually hear an artist. It was a good night and I hope many more country artists follow Dierks’ example and play Dublin apart from the big gigs like C2C.
Review by Sandy Harsch Photograph by Ronnie Norton