By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace
This past Sunday November 17th, 2019, I had the opportunity to see Eric Church, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne and Caylee Hammack live at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. This was the second night of the ATLive concert series promoted in Atlanta by Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s AMB Sports and Entertainment. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this night was a sell out with 52,414 fans. This was one of the biggest crowds I have ever been a part of for a music concert and it was an amazing night of good country music.
Caylee Hammack opened the night. She was probably the most pop oriented singer of the evening. She didn’t get a very long set and maybe did 5 songs. She did originals like “Preciatecha” and “Family Tree”. She also did covers of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. I came out of her set feeling sort of indifferent to her music as she did some good covers, but her originals didn’t really grab me. I was however, pumped for the rest of the night.
The Brothers Osborne mentioned that this was their last show of the year and they couldn’t have picked a bigger crowd to do it in front of. The band kicked off their set with “Drank Like Hank” which is one of my favorites off their last studio album. They rely heavily on long jams during their set and John Osborne is one hell of a lead guitar player in that respect. The longer jams help space out their more pop leaning songs through their set. During the nearly hour long set, they got to songs like “Shoot Me Straight”, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)”, “Burning Man” and wrapped it up with “It Ain’t My Fault”. This last song was a killer jam that I feel like lasted at least past the 15 minute mark. There was an epic keyboard solo followed by John’s longest solo of the night. This song is one of those epic closing songs that will make anyone a fan that sees this live, even if you were on the fence throughout the rest of the set.
Luke Combs was the first double headliner for the night. He played an hour and fifteen minute set full of hits and songs from his new record that are sure to be hits in the future. This wasn’t a full set you would get at one of his own concerts, but I feel like we only missed a small portion of his usual set. He came across very humble on stage and very real. The band kicked the night off with one of my favorite tracks from his first album titled “Honky Tonk Highway”. He then immediately went into the hits with one of his biggest in “When It Rains It Pours” and you could hear the entire stadium singing along. In fact, it was like this the whole set for Luke Combs.
Some highlights included the hit song “1, 2, Many” where after the line “So whatcha say we shotgun one?” he actually paused for a bit to shotgun a beer before going back to the song. He performed “This One’s For You” largely acoustic before the band came back out to finish the song with him. He did one of my favorite tracks off the new record titled “Angels Workin’ Overtime” and I’m sure that one will be a hit at radio.
Speaking of radio hits, Luke Combs announced that “Even Though I’m Leaving” is his 7th straight number 1 at country music radio. That is an amazing run for any singer, let alone someone who is only on his second full album. He closed the set out with a Brooks and Dunn cover of “Brand New Man” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart”. Before playing his final song, he announced that due to a bet with his keyboard player who was from Atlanta, he had to wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey for the final song of the night. Atlanta played his time the Carolina Panthers and beat them soundly earlier that day. This was the first time I had ever seen Luke Combs live and this set only made me a bigger fan. I can’t wait to see him again but hopefully more up close next time.
The final act of the night was Eric Church. I had seen him perform previously on the “Holdin’ My Own” tour in 2017 where he performed two sets in one night so I knew we were in for a long evening still. He kicked the night off at the front of the stage on acoustic guitar doing a rendition of “Drowning Man” from his latest record Desperate Man. Eric Church’s live band brings a heavier rock and roll sound to the proceedings so it’s no surprise that he does things like add a tease of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to the end of “Smoke a Little Smoke”. He also did an exceptional version of “Creepin’” from his The Chief album with his lead guitar player Jeff Hyde handling the dobro for the song. Before he got to one of his older hits “How Bout’ You”, he discussed playing a smaller venue in Atlanta called Wild Bills and how crazy it was to be at a sold out Mercedes Benz Stadium on this evening. Also, during “How Bout You” he did a full cover of Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and a tease of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” before closing out “How Bout You”.
He performed one of my favorite songs called “Mr. Misunderstood” largely acoustic before the band joined him again halfway through the song. It is my strong opinion that Eric Church is at his best in a more intimate acoustic setting. Following that, he kicked off a series of a few of my favorite songs of his. He did a great tease of an “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” cover. Then he went into a string of songs that included “Cold One”, “Record Year” and “Round Here Buzz”. He did a spot during “Record Year” where he signed vinyl records that fans had around the stage. He held up each one to the camera, including a vinyl record of Bruce Springsteen’s famous Born In The U.S.A. album which he signed. Before “Homeboy”, one of his guitar players came up front and did an awesome metal interlude with the band that was the heaviest bit of music of the night. The set also heavily featured the vocal talents of his back-up singer Joanna Cotten. She was featured on the track “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” which features Susan Tedeschi doing a verse on the album cut. We got an amazing dueling guitar solo during the closing moments of a rousing rendition of “Pledge Allegiance To The Hag” that was awesome. He closed out the night with “These Boots” where he signed a bunch of boots around the stage and one of his most popular songs in “Springsteen” which he says is his ode to a moment and the influence music can have on that moment and the power of a song to take you back to a specific moment in time. I know many people who were at this show will go back to this particular moment in time when they hear any of these songs that were played this night. He came back out for a one song encore of the Jackson Brown song “The Load-Out” which is a perfect encore song for any band.
This was an amazing night of performances and while no one got to do a full set, it was a full night of great music. Eric Church and Luke Combs were of course the highlights, but Brothers Osborne was awesome as well. I didn’t really get a chance to hear much of Caylee Hammack with her short set. Overall, this was a great night and I can’t wait to hear many of these artists again. You can find out a full tour itinerary for all of the artists involved in this show on their respective websites.