Dierks Bentley and Jack Ingram
December 1, 2007 Nokia Theater, Grand Prairie, Texas
(January 2008) Dierks Bentley may not be from Texas, but you’d never know it. As much as he talks about today’s top Texas country artists, as long as he dotes on his Texas fans, you’d think he grew up somewhere in the Hill Country or among the East Texas pines. (He actually grew up on Phoenix, Ariz., before moving to Nashville at age 19.)
He loves Cross Canadian Ragweed and Randy Rogers. He makes regular stops in the Lone Star State on his tour schedule. He even took along Dallas’ favorite son Jack Ingram for this mid-year tour.
So Bentley was in fine form in December when he took the stage at Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie and kicked off a rousing 90-minute-plus set for the 3,000 or so on-hand. The consummate performer, Bentley ran back and forth across the stage as he belted out his hits “What Was I Thinking?”, “Lot of Leaving Left to Do” and “Every Mile a Memory”.
Smiling and interacting with the audience – often, times up close and personal
Bentley and his touring band were more rock show than down-home country honky-tonk, likely reminding audiences of another young, energetic up-and-comer from a decade earlier: Garth Books. But whereas Brooks’ shows descended into pyrotechnic flash and high-wire acrobatics, Bentley seems content focusing on the music and making a personal connection with his audiences. His goal is to make sure everyone in the house has a good time. And when he knows he’s completed that singular task, he’s ready to move on to the next stop on the tour.
Highlights of the show included Bentley enlisting a young audience member to lead the crowd in the chorus of “Come A Little Closer”, then quietly sneaking off with his band backstage; moving the show up front and doing a mini-acoustic set that included bluegrass originals “Good Man Like Me” and “Prodigal Son’s Prayer”; bringing Ingram back to the stage during an encore, where the two traded off lines from Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” and gave a shout-out to just about every Texas country and Red Dirt artist they could think of.
Ingram’s 45-minute opening set lacked some of the luster Jack’s shown in the past. Surrounded by musicians seemingly half his age, Ingram meandered through his repertoire lazily. “Wherever You Are”, “Keep On Keeping On” and “Measure of a Man” were delivered with minimal flair, and it took Ingram nearly 30 minutes to seem interested in anything other than standing on a monitor and posing. The last handful of tunes “Barbie Doll”, “Lips of an Angel” and “Love You” found Ingram and his Beat-Up Ford Band finally in sync and the crowd rocking along. But for the first-time listener or casual fan it might have been too little, too late.
James Dunning is a singer/songwriter who fronts Lost Immigrants, a Texas-based Americana band.
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