When Eric Church took the stage for his Blood, Sweat, and Beers Tour this past Friday night in Chicago, it took no less than each of those items to pump out his brand of country music. Church’s show was heavy on pyrotechnics and sound; and Church himself was outfitted with his own red Solo cup (via a strategically placed holder on his mic stand).

Following a beautiful, sunny Chicago afternoon shagging fly balls with the Chicago White Sox, Church proved adept at controlling the mood of the full house. He balanced songs that fired up the crowd with those that slowed things down a bit, all the while tightly wrapping hit after hit into his 90-minute set.

Songs such as “Springsteen”, “Smoke A Little Smoke”, Homeboy”, “Drink In My Hand”, Two Pink Lines” (in its acoustic glory), “Keep On”, “Creepin'”, “Jack Daniels”, I’m Getting Stoned”, and “Country Music Jesus” kept the crowd on their feet, singing along to every word.

See photos from the Eric Church show in Chicago.

Highlights included the “smoke” that enveloped everyone on stage during “Smoke a Little Smoke,” which was almost as visually pleasing as all the pyrotechnics.

And then there was Church’s current hit, “Springsteen,” which proved the biggest highlight of the night.

Eric opened the song with nothing but a piano. Then moving to guitar, the song took on a more familiar form. But as the song neared its end, Church found a way to keep the song going, even out to the parking lot.

After he explained to the crowd what the song means to him, he asked them to take out their cell phones, and the arena lit up like a starry night. And when fans sang along with the “oh oh ooooh” part of the song, it was like every person there was part of one big, unified chorus.

Brantley Gilbert and Blackberry Smoke opened the show and continue on the tour, which stops next in Minneapolis.

Steve Koscik/Marci Braun/Laura Taylor, US99.5

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