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Top-of-the-line show with Dierks Bentley

BY REBECCA KOONS | APRIL 27, 2009 7:26 AM

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Dierks Bentley rolled into Iowa City on Thursday, ready to bring his own goodtime sensibilities to a city that is seen for many as a party mecca.

Bentley shattered any stereotype of country being only the music of rural folk, with his rousing and exciting stage performance in the IMU Main Lounge. Especially during the past few years, country music has made noise and crossed genres, inviting music fans from across the spectrum to join in the fun.

The crowd was hyped up before the IMU’s doors even opened, the energy buzzing with great anticipation. A few hours later, the blond-haired, blue-eyed country crooner got the place hopping — and the girls screaming — right away, kicking off his set with “Life on the Run,” an ode to the whirlwind lifestyle of a band always on the road. In fact, several of Bentley’s songs run along the same lyrical tangent, spicing up his set with hit singles such as “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” and “Free and Easy Down the Road I Go.” Apart from his more free-wheeling numbers, he certainly has a softer side that he isn’t afraid to show in soulful ballads such as “Settle For a Slowdown” and “Come a Little Closer.”

His musical repertoire is just the kind that fills his concerts with variety, leaving the audience wondering what’s going to come next (true, I actually heard people trying to guess which songs he’d play). He’s at the point in his career where he has a bevy of hits to play that everyone has memorized but is still able to throw in a few that not everyone necessarily knows. This kind of accessibility is crucial for someone of his status, as there are still many familiarizing themselves with his music.

It was evident from the minute he walked out that Bentley knows how to command a stage, a show, as well as his audience of adoring fans (heavily concentrated with the female species). One thing that makes a concert go from good to great is how a performer interacts with the crowd. Not a moment went by in which Bentley wasn’t running from one end of the stage to the other, making sure everyone was alive and having a good time. Getting the audience involved in screaming/“woo”-ing contests, one side versus the other, or just getting everyone to sing along, is an easy way to make everyone feel connected. Bentley is an expert in that respect.

Another thing that made this show greater is that he and his bandmates have incredible chemistry on stage. They pal and joke around as though they were just hanging out. You can’t blame them — performing for legions of fans has got to provide a pretty good high. The last thing people want to see is a band that looks bored. The interaction between Bentley and the others turned the occasion into one big party, with which no one seemed to have a problem.

The show ended strongly, with Bentley performing his own renditions of “All My Exes Live in Texas” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” He left the masses begging for more, which is ultimately what every good performer should do. His irresistible charm, talent, and genuine appreciation for his fans are the things quality musicians are made of.


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