By Johnny Martin, Reporter
There was not an empty seat in the arena nor was there an empty cup as Dierks Bentley’s “What the Hell Tour” took the stage at Save Mart Center April 29.
Boy was I wrong thinking he wouldn’t sell out the arena because of rodeo weekend but the Clovis Rodeo fans just came on over after the rodeo and continued the party with Bentley and company.
The party didn’t keep the audience waiting long as Jon Pardi took to the stage right at 7:30 p.m. and he did not disappoint. Pardi sang his top hits “Dirt On My Boots” and “Head Over Boots” to get the mood set for the night. He got the mood set just right to get the party started that one cowboy in the front row decided it was the perfect time to propose to his girlfriend as Pardi sang “Head Over Boots.”
Cole Swindell followed Pardi and continued the party for another hour singing his top hits “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Let Me See Ya Girl” with a little mixture of “Closer” by The Chainsmokers. Just as Swindell had the volume turned right back up following Pardi, he turned it down to sing another top hit “You Should Be Here.”
As he sang that song with a video of all his memories of him and his dad playing on the big screen, Swindell dedicated the song to everybody in the arena who had ever lost a loved one way too soon. Just as the party had the volume cranked all the way up, Swindell sent the audience into a quiet, reminiscing point in the night and the audience would respond with even more noise as he would continue into his set.
Just before anybody could calm down enough to realize that we were already long into the night, Bentley took the stage. Singing his top hits like “Free and Easy” and “Am I The Only One,” the crowd was so loud when he took the stage that Bentley was down on his knees thanking the crowd after only the second song of his set.
Bentley would continue singing long into the night, but he made sure about halfway through the show to thank the military and first responders because “without them I wouldn’t be able to be up here partying with y’all.” To help him say thank you, he turned the spotlight onto the Mendez family and brought them on stage.
Bentley got the chance to help the Mendez family welcome home their dad and husband before the show backstage and wanted to recognize them in front of a sold-out arena, giving his thanks to the family and all the military currently serving and those who have served. Steven Mendez had been serving overseas and had been gone for 10 months before returning home the night of the concert. You can find a video of the backstage moment on the Save Mart Center Facebook page.
As if his set had not already won the crowd over, Bentley made sure of it with bringing up the Mendez family and sharing their story. The crowd quickly responded with the loudest “USA” chant that I had ever heard.
He would continue singing more top hits before he would leave the stage with all the lights turned off. Little did the audience know he had an encore set up that would include the front end of a plane to help him end the night with his top hit “Drunk On A Plane.” Pardi and Swindell came back on stage and the three of them ended the show the same way they started it, with the volume cranked to the max.
Pardi and Swindell set the bar real high for their buddy and headliner Dierks Bentley. The two had the typical light show that accompanies any arena concert, but I had not seen a light show like Swindell’s. That was until Bentley took to the stage with his three tiers of lights that his crew had moving in all different kind of positions as he sang each song.
The light show enhanced the show even more then the music had already done and there was one thing for certain at the end, the Save Mart Center had not seen a show like that since Garth Brooks took the stage last year.