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Dierks Bentley feels at "home" in concert

Hard Rock Cafe, Boston, February 4, 2012

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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This was not your typical Dierks Bentley concert in most every way except one, and that was an important "one."

First off, Bentley was playing a small club holding 300 people and selling out super fast at only $10 a pop (this was a WKLB radio CD release show after all with all money going to charity).

Second, Bentley only was accompanied by a fiddle player and fellow acoustic guitarist, not his regular band.

And finally at 50 minutes this was woefully short Bentley gig, but that was clear this was going to be the case this night, so no complaints there.

As for the way the show was the same as other Bentley shows - that would be the quality of the music, meaning super high.

Bentley hit Boston a few nights after playing the Ryman in support of his seventh CD, "Home," coming out Tuesday. So, of course, Bentley pumped the new disc along with playing a few hits.

Bentley mixed it up, though, playing songs from different parts of his career. He started with Sideways and the ballad Feel the Fire before launching into "Home" tracks. Bentley slightly gravelly, rough-hewn voice was in force from the get go, and it certainly served him well as usual. Bentley ably infused the songs with emotion and attitude with his vocals, something that always has been part of his charm.

Getting into the new disc did not proved difficult considering that he started with his recent number one hit, Am I the Only One. Bentley proved playful by adding a new third verse to the song, which incorporated a hoped-for Patriots victory in Sunday's Super Bowl (Bentley fell victim to pandering to the locals about the Pats. Wonder if Titans fans back home would be upset.).

Bentley played five of the dozen songs on "Home," including "5-1-5-0," which he said was inspired by Van Halen's disc of the same name, the ballad When You Gonna Come Around and his new hit, the title track, a thoughtful piece about love of the U.S., while acknowledging that "it's been a long hard ride/got a ways to go/But this is still the place that we all call home."

Bentley admitted that it wasn't easy on the audience to listen to a bunch of new songs, three of which they probably had zero familiarity with. But he interspersed more hits (Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go), the very fine "Up on the Ridge" from his bluegrassy last disc and the sensual Come a Little Closer to maintain the good vibe.

While a full band version may be the norm, playing as a trio made the vocals center stage, but also forced different song arrangements, making for something a lot different on this night.

Bentley closed out the show with a fun, rousing version of What Was I Thinkin'. The song was lively and filled with more great vocals from Bentley. And that about summed up the (short) night - energetic and fun.