The country superstar, performing solo without a band, took to the stage at PPG Paints Arena on Friday, October 8, to an epic “Mistress Named Music” mashup that had fans in awe, proving his CMA Entertainer of the Year status.
After singing most of the track, which appears on Church’s fifth studio album, Mr. Misunderstood, the hitmaker and North Carolina native told the capacity crowd, “y’all know what’s going to happen.”
He then went into his signature medley that includes covers of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” Otis Redding’s “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay,” and Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” all of which prompted massive sing-a-longs.
His medley continued with a massive sing-a-long to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” before he went on to sing Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman,” Joan Jett And The Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” and Loggins & Messina’s “Danny’s Song.”
The epic mashup concluded with a performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” before Church sang the ending lines of his fan-favorite hit “Mistress Named Music.”
The epic medley earned Church a thunderous standing ovation.
The performance comes just one day after Church revealed that he would be performing solo, without a band, during his Pennsylvania tour dates. The aforementioned Pittsburgh show marked the first show he played without a band on the Gather Again Tour.
The superstar shared the news with fans on Friday morning via social media, revealing that “a limited number” of his bandmates had breakthrough cases.
Get ready PA pic.twitter.com/hvMuIaqPlh
— Eric Church (@ericchurch) October 8, 2021
Church’s Gather Again Tour kicked off in Mid-September and runs through May 20th, 2022.
The tour marks a first for Church as it features an all-new show in an all-new in-the-round stage. The massive trek brings new elements to the road, including his 2,400 square foot multi-level stage, 11 busses, 20 trucks, a 127,000-pound lighting rig and four 836 square foot video walls.
“I’ve never played a stage like this in my career… I’ve never seen anybody play one like this,” notes Church of his first-ever in-the-round setup. “There’s really no front… It’s kind of like a cage match. I mean once we get out there the crowd is everywhere. They’re behind you, they’re on the sides, and I love that…. The reason it’s called The Gather Again Tour is we want people on top of us, and they will be.”
With not one, but three new records under his belt, following the release of Heart & Soul earlier this year, Church has plenty of new tracks to add in to his live show, and he admits, it was a bit of a challenge.
“The hardest thing I’ve done thus far in my career is this setlist,” Church shares. “It’s not a normal record; it’s three. So, you add 28 songs to what we already had going, which is a pretty stacked and packed setlist, and when you start to try to get rid of stuff and change it every night – which I’m committed to; we’re still going to play the different set, we’re going to give people different experiences – it has been maddening.
“It’s the most musical we’ve ever been,” he continues. “To see the way the new music happens in the show is something that I’m excited just to see and, also, we’re trying to reimagine songs that we’ve played 100 times, playing them different, and that’s just fun. It’s fun for us to do. There’s going to be a lot of songs that fans aren’t gonna recognize at first, that we’re gonna start singing and they’re going to go ‘oh yeah, that’s that song.’ So, I think it’s just fun after this many years to change it up and make it about music; make it musical. I’m just excited to see the reaction.”
Church, who recently scored five nominations for the upcoming CMA Awards.
Tickets for the Gather Again Tour are on sale now.