Church Time At The Rodeo

Ecstatic Eric Church is grateful for his freedom at rockin' Houston Rodeo opener

Eric Church is grateful for his freedom at rockin Houston Rodeo opener

Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church acted more like a parolee during his performance at NRG Stadium — a man grateful for his freedom. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Maybe getting a break from his infant son had Church in good spirits, or maybe he was just happy to be in Houston.  Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
The 12-song set drew from all four of Church's albums, but the crowd cheered loudest for the opening chords chart-topping track "Talladega." Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church seemed to be having a good time at RodeoHouston. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
After such a strong debut, expect Church to return for many more Rodeo performances. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church wore his trademark aviators and black jacket. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015
Eric Church at Houston Rodeo opening night March 3, 2015

Country star Eric Church may be touring behind his 2014 smash album The Outsiders, but the first time RodeoHouston performer acted more like a parolee during his performance at NRG Stadium — a man grateful for his freedom.

"I've got a two-week old. In the last 14 days, I've gotten 14 hours of sleep," Church told the crowd of  57,338, which topped last year's opener Brad Paisley. The crowd's size meant that the lower bowl filled in, but the upper deck was sparse — not too shabby for a pre-spring break Tuesday night. 

Maybe getting a break from his infant son Tennessee Hawkins had Church in good spirits, or maybe he was just happy to be in Houston. Either way, the singer's trademark aviator sunglasses and black leather jacket belied his upbeat mood. Church could be seen smiling from the beginning of set opener "Creepin" right through to the last chords of closer "Springsteen." 

 "I've got a two-week old. In the last 14 days, I've gotten 14 hours of sleep," Church told the crowd of  57,338, which topped last year's opener Brad Paisley. 

The 12-song set drew from all four of Church's albums, but the crowd cheered loudest for the opening chords of The Outsider's chart-topping track "Talladega." Regardless of the track, the crowd of mostly 20-somethings decked out in boots and pearl snaps for the Rodeo's return looked to know all the words: singing along and shouting chorus back at Church when prompted. 

Other highlights included Church giving shoutouts to Mo's Place in Katy and the Firehouse Saloon as venues he played during his path to stardom and introducing "Like a Wrecking Ball" by explaining it was the song playing when he conceived his new baby.

Overall, the set mixed tempos and tones well with more rocking tracks like "Drink in my Hand" balanced by "Talladega" and "Like a Wrecking Ball."

If some fans expressed disappointment about not hearing personal favorites like "The Outsiders," "Hell on the Heart" or "She Loves Me Like Jesus Does," well, there's always next year. After such a strong debut, expect Church to return for many more Rodeo performances.

Set List:

Creepin
Guys Like Me
Jack Daniels
Pledge Allegiance to the Hag
Talladega
Drink in my Hand
Like a Wrecking Ball
Cold One
Homeboy
Smoke a Little Smoke
These Boots
Springsteen