Eric Church is usually more likely to “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” than to bust into Motown songs, but on Friday night (Feb. 15) in Detroit the country star paid some homage to the heritage of his destination.
Finishing his Double Down Tour show at Little Caesars Arena, a couple of miles away from Motown’s original Hitsville USA studios (now a museum), Church steered a solo acoustic rendition of his “Mistress Named Music” into a medley of the famed label’s classics.
The mix including the Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart of Mine,” the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,” Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” the Temptations’ “My Girl,” Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” in addition to the Commodores’ 1985 hit “Nightshift” that paid tribute to Gaye and Jackie Wilson. The medley then morphed into a final chorus of “Mistress Named Music.”
That wasn’t Church’s only locally-flavored tribute during the show, either. He also covered Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away,” telling the crowd that “There is nobody in my career that’s done more for me than when Bob took us out” during the mid-00s, after Church released his 2006 debut album, Sinners Lie Me. He recalled coming off another tour that only allowed him to play for 15 minutes, which made Seger’s offer of a 45-minute set particularly generous.
Church’s show, broadcast live on SiriusXM, was also notable for introducing tour debuts of two songs, “Hell on the Heart” and “Three Year Old.” He also professed to be tired from a fourth birthday party for his youngest son, Hawk, that took place that afternoon.
The Double Down Tour — two entirely different shows in each city — plays a second show in Detroit on Saturday (Feb. 16) and runs through late June, with festival dates during July.