By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Eric Church had fans lining up hours ahead of his concert at the BancorpSouth Arena on Thursday.
The country star, promoting his latest and most successful album, “Chief,” brought his “Blood, Sweat and Beers” tour to Tupelo, with 7,100 in attendance.
He opened the show with smoke, pyro and strobe lights while he performed hits like “Country Music Jesus” and “Guys Like Me.”
Michael Thompson, 22, of Wheeler, had a front-row seat, as he’d been waiting outside the arena since 10:30 a.m. Thursday for the best possible position on the general admission floor.
“I am a huge Eric Church fan. He’s probably my favorite artist, which is weird because I don’t like a lot of country,” he said.
Thompson saw Church on the “Blood, Sweat and Beers” tour in Southaven earlier in the year and said his favorite part was when Church invited fans to take their boots off and wave them in the air for one song.
“He puts on a good show,” Thompson said. “It’s just like listening to the album, but a whole lot better.”
Bekah Ray, 25, of Walnut, was next in line, arriving at about 2:30 p.m. She’s a fan of both Church and his opening act, Brantley Gilbert. She said she was ready to get inside and get a good place on the floor.
“I’ll probably stop and get a shirt first,” she said.
Gilbert had fans on their feet through much of his loud, rowdy set, which included hit songs like “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kind of Crazy.”
Atlanta, Ga.-based country band Blackberry Smoke opened the show.
The BancorpSouth Arena announced its next country concert before Blackberry Smoke took the stage. Dierks Bentley will perform at the arena on May 25, with tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. April 20.