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Eric Church

Caught in the Act: Live – 2013 (EMI Nashville)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Eric Church

"God send a country music Jesus to save us all," sings Eric Church on this new collection of live recordings, but he's not talking about himself. Church may be a country music hit maker but he's not exactly traditional-sounding; there are times here where the band is rocking hard enough that it's closer to AC/DC than anything remotely 'country.'

Church's big hit Springsteen is here, of course, closing the album and including a cleverly placed snippet of an actual Springsteen song (Born to Run) in the middle of it. Before that climactic ending, however, is a batch of his other hits and album cuts, which are sequenced much like Church's actual live gigs.

Pledge Allegiance to the Hag hits all the typical good old boy clichés, and the crowd eats it up (the crowd noise is left more intact than usual for a major label live album here, with plenty of hoots and hollers evident even during the songs.), and when he name drops his drink of choice on Jack Daniels they roar their approval every time the "Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night" line comes around.

An acoustic interlude is common practice among country artists in concert, and Church drops one in here with a crowd sing-along on Sinners Like Me that sounds like you're sitting in the front row. The whole album, in fact, has that 'you are there' quality lacking in many modern live releases.

Maybe it's the more-than-normal crowd noise, or maybe it's the enthusiastic renditions of both the hits and the lesser known tracks, but Church and his band have come up with a live album that's about as close as you can get to the feeling of an actual show, without the expensive beer from the concession stand.