There are country shows that cater to rockers and rock shows that spin a little bit of country, but Friday night’s Lynyrd Skynyrd show with opening act, Dierks Bentley, at the University of Wyoming’s Arena Auditorium, brought something for everyone in the crowd of approximately six thousand. The concert marks not only the start of the school year and football season in Laramie, but the University’s first foray back into brining headlining artists to south-east Wyoming’s largest arena, since Elton John headlined a benefit concert for the Mathew Shepard Foundation in 2009, raising $550,000 at the event.
Many in the state may remember the days when Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux, and other major touring acts played the Arena Auditorium (“Double A” as it’s called by fans), as a regular event in Laramie – and Friday’s show did not disappoint, delivering a little bit of country and a whole lotta’ rock-n-roll to the crowd that included students, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees and fans from as far away as South Dakota, Nebraska and Utah.
Opening the show was country’s hottest rising star, Dierks Bentley. Nominated for three CMA (Country Music Association) awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for his summer release, UP ON THE RIDGE, and Musical Event of the Year for his video “Bad Angel” featuring Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, and also honored September 14th as ASCAP’s (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers) “Songwriter/Artist of the Year”, Dierks Bentley continues to take the world of country music by storm. Friday’s performance did not disappoint for the rowdy Laramie crowd, with Bentley playing favorites like the upbeat hit “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do,” the carefree, rambling “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),” and moving number one ballads “Settle for a Slowdown” and “Come a Little Closer.” The crowd was certainly not devoid of female fans sporting Bentley’s signature “white tank tops” made famous by his 2003 hit “What Was I Thinkin’,” which brought a handful of female admirers stage-side for a handshake and twirl from the crooner. Not to be outdone, the men in the house cheered and sang along to a rousing rendition of Bentley’s feel-good drinking song “Sideways.” From the opening notes of the title track to his latest critically acclaimed release, UP ON THE RIDGE, which brought fans to their feet with the bluegrassy foot-stompin’ tune, throughout the hour-long set, Bentley wowed the crowd with a spattering of material from each of his five albums.
Bentley’s band includes some of Nashville’s best pickers, strummers and fiddlers including Brian Layson (guitar), Steve Misamore (drums), Tim Sergent (steel guitar, banjo), Cassady Feasby (Bass), and newest member Dan Hochhalter (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo) whose musicianship was apparent throughout the evening.
Before handing over the stage to southern-rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bentley gave one last shout-out to the Laramie crowd, asking the revelers to save a stool for him later that evening at the Cowboy Bar, which he said was the first place he’d ever played in Laramie, years earlier. If he did make it downtown, you can be sure there was something “Domestic, Light and Cold” waiting for him!
Dierks Bentley is currently on the road supporting his latest album Up On The Ridge, with headlining dates currently listed through the end of 2010. http://www.dierks.com