MOOSIC — The mountain became a country-music party zone Sunday as Dierks Bentley brought his “Riser” tour to The Pavilion at Montage Mountain.
Since it was also Froggy Fest 2014, four other acts were also on the bill – up-and-comers Maggie Rose, Jon Pardi and Chase Rice along with veteran Chris Young, who proved Sunday that he could be a headliner in his own right.
Young, the 2006 winner of USA Network’s “Nashville Star,” has gone on to release four albums and have five consecutive singles that topped the charts. He and his crack five-piece band exploded onto the stage with the title track of his latest album “A.M.”
The 28-year-old singer-songwriter from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, quickly followed with two of his No. 1 singles, “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and “Voices.” Other tunes that went over big with the large and rowdy Scranton crowd included “Who I Am With You,” which Young noted just went Top 10, and the drinking song “Aw Naw.”
He stopped his hit “I Can Take It From There” twice to make sure the crowd cheered wildly enough at the mention of Conway Twitty, and led his band through a great rendition of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.”
He headed down the homestretch of his hour-long set with his other chart-topping ballads “The Man I Want To Be,” “You” and “Tomorrow” before leaving the crowd wanting more with the party anthem “Save Water, Drink Beer.”
Judging from his performance Sunday – and the reaction of the multitudes in attendance — he will be headlining the next time he comes to the Scranton amphitheater.
But Sunday’s show was far from over as the current headliner Bentley absolutely crushed it from the time he hit the stage with “5-1-5-0,” a reference to the code for “involuntary psychiatric hold” in California.
“Are you kidding me?” he asked as the crowd went crazy. “This is a Sunday?”
The 38-year-old star originally from Arizona then rocked the crowd with two more of his No. 1 singles, “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)” and “Am I The Only One.”
Bentley pulled a guy from the front row up on stage to shotgun a couple cans of Bud Light with him before his drinking songs, “Tip It On Back” and “Drunk on a Plane.” At the end of the show, Bentley signed an electric guitar and presented it to his new drinking buddy.
Bentley seemed genuinely humble about his rise to the top, thanking the crowd numerous times for taking him and his band from playing bars for free drinks to his current chart-topping and headlining status.
Staircase Lounge act
He played to the Northeastern Pennsylvania crowd well, discussing his early visit to the now-defunct Staircase Lounge in Pittston more than once and donning a RailRiders jersey while playing a few numbers from a stage near the lawn seats.
“We’ve made some great memories in Scranton before, but tonight we’re going to make the best ones,” he said while introducing his chart topper “Every Mile a Memory.”
He and his band never let up on the gas pedal for the remainder of the show, whether it was covering One Republic’s “Counting Stars” or a bit of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer,” or storming through his own hits “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do,” “I Hold On” or “Feel That Fire.”
After ballads “Settle for a Slowdown” and “Come a Little Closer,” Bentley fired up the crowd again with his first hit “What Was I Thinkin’.” He then brought out the four other singers for penultimate number for a raucous version of “Sideways” before finishing up with his patriotic ballad “Home,” which was dedicated to his father (whom Bentley said passed away two years ago to the day of the show) and all other veterans and service members.
“Thank you so much,” he said at the end, “I will never forget this night.”