Dierks Bentley Has Serious Fun With ‘Gravel & Gold’ at Pine Knob [Review]
On his latest album, Gravel & Gold, Dierks Bentley sings about being the "Same Ol' Me," even if he's got "a little more don't care with a little touch of gray on top."
But on his just-launched new tour, Bentley finds a way to add fresh touches to all the same ol' stuff that's given him 20 years of hits — and demonstrate once again how to have some pretty serious fun.
Bentley and his six-piece band packed a great deal into their hour and 50 minutes on stage at the Pine Knob Music Theatre outside Detroit, the second show on the 2023 Gravel & Gold Tour, on Friday (June 2.) The career-spanning set offered 18 songs from his 10-album catalog and a trove of covers — including a medley performed as Bentley's side band, Hot Country Knights.
That 13 of the originals are Top 10 hits, and nine of those hit No. 1, spoke to the success Bentley has enjoyed during these past two decades. The fact that he left a significant number of other favorites on the bench and still threw a non-stop party of a show spoke to the depth of quality in his catalog.
Sporting a black work shirt and jeans — and, in short order, a backward baseball cap — Bentley came promising, "This is gonna be the best night of your summer," a high bar to set given that it's, well, still spring. The band was tearing it up, though, giving Gravel & Gold its early-show due with "Gold," "Same Ol' Me" and "Something Real." By the time he brought two fans up to shotgun beers with him during "Am I the Only One," all concerned — on stage and off — were well on their way to being, as the song says, "Gone."
Since becoming a headliner back in 2006, Bentley's shows have consistently featured advanced staging, and the new tour is no exception. The wide-open stage was simple and free of props, dominated by a massive video screen that separated into parts to give the stage different looks throughout the night. At one point, he performed the airy "Black" (with a bit of Coldplay's "Fix You") from behind the screen, visible in and out of swirling projections.
He and his band then stepped in front of it for "Up on the Ridge" and a cover of Garth Brooks' "Callin' Baton Rouge," the latter sung by all-star band member Charlie Worsham. Opener Molly Tuttle joined the crew for Gravel & Gold's "Sunset in Colorado" and Townes Van Zandt's "White Freight Liner," the whole ensemble trading instrumental solo breaks.
Jordan Davis, the night's other opener, romped through a duet version of Bentley's first hit, "What Was I Thinkin'," to finish the main set. Then things took a theatrical turn as Bentley dressed as an inebriated pilot — shades on, cap askew, jacket open (with a bra hanging out), beer sloshing out of a red Solo cup — for, what else, "Drunk on a Plane."
Then the band morphed into the Hot Country Knights, introduced by a Back to the Future-style video that took the Bentley crew "back to the 90s" — mullet wigs, spandex and key-tar included — for a tight, high-octane medley of hits bookended by Brooks' "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" and "Friends in Low Places" and including hits by Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, Diamond Rio, Jo Dee Messina and Billy Ray Cyrus.
The new Hot Country Knights single "Midknight Rodeo" closed the show, and even though he was in costume, it was still the same ol' Bentley taking a triumphant walk off the stage.
The Gravel & Gold Tour has dates announced through Aug. 26. Bentley will also be hosting the 2023 NHL Awards on June 25 in Nashville and CMA Fest on ABC in July.
Dierks Bentley's 2023 Gravel & Gold Tour Setlist on June 2 at Pine Knob:
"Same Ol' Me"
"I Hold On"
"Am I the Only One"
"Say You Do"
"Up on the Ridge"
"Callin' Baton Rouge" (Garth Brooks cover)
"Sun Sets in Colorado" (with Molly Tuttle)
"White Freight Liner Blues" (Townes van Zandt cover, with Molly Tuttle)
"Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)"
"Somewhere on a Beach"
"What Was I Thinkin'"(with Jordan Davis)
"Drunk on a Plane"
Hot Country Knights Medley: "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" (Garth Brooks cover), "I Like It, I Love It" (Tim McGraw cover), "Meet in the Middle" (Diamond Rio cover), "Heads Carolina, Tails California" (Jo Dee Messina Cover), Achy Breaky Heart (Billy Ray Cyrus cover), "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" (Shania Twain cover), "Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks cover)