Expectation was high for the 40-year-old Arizonan's first gig in London since the 2014 C2C Festival and an interesting mixture of young and old mingled in the bar beforehand (some in cowboy hats) as (mostly modern) country hits blared out through the speakers.

Tucker Beathard: A Future Star

Support act Tucker Beathard, the 21-year-old son of Nashville songwriter Casey Beathard (co-writer of such country classics as "How 'bout Then Cowgirls" and "Find Out Who Your Friends Are"), appeared on stage armed with just an acoustic guitar and a batch of self-penned tunes with which most of the crowd would almost certainly have been unfamiliar.

By the end of his thrilling eight-song set, however - that included the songs "I'll Take on the World with You," "God and My Guitar" and "Rock On" - the skilled musician had won the audience over. This was the first of what will surely be many trips to London. He is definitely a name to watch out for.

Dierks Bentley back in London

Dierks hit the stage just after 9 pm, after sending out his accomplished five-piece band and starting with the banjo and fiddle-led "Up on the Ridge." He later revealed that he sends out these instruments first in order to "test" the crowd. The London fans passed the test with flying colours. "I've never seen a crowd jump like that to a banjo song!" exclaimed the singer during the second number, the equally well-received "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go).


The high-octane hits continued with "Am I the Only One" and "5-1-5-0" before the first slow song of the evening, the beautifully heartfelt"Say You Do." The stage was bathed in purple lights for this the fourth single to be released off his 2014 album, Riser. "This next song sums me up best," noted the country superstar ahead of a powerful rendition of "I Hold On," also off Riser.

Dierks pays tribute to Prince and Merle Haggard

Dierks paid tribute to recently deceased music legends,Prince andMerle Haggard, the former through the raising of a glass and the latter through "The Running Kind," the most traditional country-sounding song in tonight's set. It featured some beautiful steel guitar, as did a number of the other tracks played - most notably "Every Mile a Memory.


Dierks praises the English fans

Throughout the performance, the audience showed their appreciation, clapping, cheering and calling out "We love you Dierks!" Bentley expressed surprise at how people in the UK seem to know all his songs, from the early stuff (his first album came out in 2003) right through to the new stuff (his new album is out next month) - even obscure album cuts.

He revealed that he hadn't planned on playing "Riser," but that he'd met some fans before the show and they'd all requested it. Further highlights in the main set included "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do," "Sideways" and "Somewhere on a Beach," the current single, which saw him indulge in some impromptu crowd surfing.

Dierks Bentley: Creating a Party Atmosphere

The "let's get drunk and have some fun" vibe that this likeable and very down-to-earth Nashville stalwart likes to create in his shows continued into the encore, particularly on the very last song, "Drunk on a Plane." The good-time anthem had the audience on their feet - a fitting end to an outstanding concert from a highly adept performer at the very top of his game.

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