When I first saw Dierks Bentley on TV, with his boyish good looks and tousled head of curls, the singer’s deep, classic country voice and refreshing shot of young, hip and cool had me hooked. So when I heard he was going to be performing in Anchorage, I jumped (OK, I begged) at the opportunity to review his concert.
On his way to my TV screen, Bentley crashed onto the country music scene in 2003 with his self-titled debut, and his first single, "What Was I Thinkin'," reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Nine years, six albums, eight No. 1 singles, a wife and two beautiful daughters later, Bentley is still going strong, and Monday night he offered what country music fans needed to usher in spring.
From the moment he set foot on stage at Sullivan Arena, the crowd showed its appreciation for his presence in our dirty, wet city. His gratitude for the roars and cheers was clear as he got down on his knees several times throughout the night and bowed to the audience in a gesture of humble thanks. Bentley sang fan favorites and ran right to left across the stage throughout the evening, working all sides into a continuous frenzy and shedding his flannel button-up after just a few songs.
In a town that is currently consumed in its own “breakup,” Bentley’s performance of “How Am I Doing?,” with the line “Well I don't know what you were thinking, running ‘round on me/ Now you say you're sorry/ Well honey, I agree,” had the stadium agreeing. Don’t be fooling around on Dierks.
Going even further into the “Your Cheating Heart” territory of country music, Bentley performed the classic Hank Williams song, calling Williams one of his idols and an inspiration for his own career.
Born in Phoenix, Bentley’s new single, “Home,” the title track from his sixth album was inspired by the Arizona shooting that took the lives of six people and critically injured U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011. Before performing the song, Bentley spoke about how the tragedy affected him and inspired him to co-write the song. He was noticeable moved as he spoke about what the song means.
Mentioning Alaska’s mountains, the many military members he had met while here and even the 1964 earthquake, he wrapped Alaska into the blanket of the song that has spread across the country as an anthem about the struggles of all Americans.
After four encore songs – which included his signature first hit, “What Was I Thinkin’” and the rowdy bar song “Sideways,” another No. 1 hit – the audience reluctantly said goodbye in the form of ear-splitting screams and applause. Taking a bow with the entire band, Bentley thanked Anchorage for welcoming him and exited to even more deafening cheers – house lights on and smiles everywhere.
Bentley did not disappoint. His smooth voice was pitch perfect, and his enthusiasm and love for performing was apparent and much appreciated by this country-loving crowd.
Come back soon Dierks; fishing season is just around the corner.