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Dierks Bentley rolls out the hits at intimate gathering
Dierks Bentley rolls out the hits at intimate gathering
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Dierks Bentley
May 14
FSN Lounge (Qwest Field)


It wasn't large or long, fancy or formal. But it was an experience unlike any other.

Country star Dierks Bentley gathered a couple hundred of his fans for a rush-hour performance at Qwest Field's Fox Sports Network Lounge on Wednesday. Concertgoers either won passes through his website or from local country station KMPS, or - in my case - were simply invited for the ride. And a ride it was, with Bentley playing just under 10 songs but taking time to answer questions, honor war veterans, sign autographs, and smack a few lucky gals a belated birthday kiss. And throughout, he was chipper and oh-so down-to-earth.

Bentley, who packed the Everett Events Center in 2006 and sells out nearly every concert on his tour itinerary, walked candidly onstage with a camera in hand and snapped pictures of the beaming audience. The lounge, on the football stadium's south end, faces downtown Seattle.

With guitarist-vocalist Russell Terrell at his side, the multiple Grammy-nominee opened with "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)" off his Long Trip Alone album. Fans sang and swayed, yet mostly took photos or recorded the action on their cell phones. "Wish It Would Break," a wonderful ballad from his self-titled debut, followed and gave everyone's spines a tingle.

Dressed in jeans, white T-shirt and black hoodie, Bentley seemed to blend in with the Seattle landscape. Originally from Phoenix, though a longtime Nashville transplant, his slight twang reminded us that he's a Southern boy with all the trimmings - sexy accent, abundant charm, and occasional wild side.

He dedicated "My Last Name" to a handful of war veterans in attendance, one in particular sitting on a mobilized wheelchair. "My dad was a World War II veteran," said Bentley looking over to them and nodding his head, then diving into a gripping rendition of the song.

There was no band, no light display, and no backup singers - just Bentley, Terrell and guitars on each lap. It was simple, intimate, casual, and extremely delightful - not to mention being five to 10 feet away from him.

Bentley removed his hoodie, to whistles and cheers of course, then lunged into a plucky and downright good version of "A Lot of Leavin' Left to Do," which got the crowd fired up a bit more. Fingers were snapping, feet were tapping, and smiles noticeably widened.

When introducing his signature hit, "What Was I Thinkin'," the laidback musician joked with the audience, saying he was still undergoing legal issues with his ex-girlfriend mentioned in the tune. Even as an acoustic piece, it had enough swing and juice to make a dance floor creek. His final selection was "Sweet & Wild," a brand new track found on his just-released greatest hits collection.

No encores were performed, as Bentley dismounted the three-foot high platform and disappeared to a dressing room to freshen up before tackling a long line of autograph seekers.

Bentley was scheduled to jump on an LA-bound plane the following morning to tape an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. His invite-only gig in Seattle was part of an 11-city promotional tour that saw him perform in sports lounges, backyards, fraternity houses and living rooms.

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