Eric Church toes a fine line between country and rock -- a fact that's especially apparent on his newest album, The Outsiders -- and while some artists might lose an audience by swaying too much one way or the other, Church manages to blend the two effectively on his The Outsiders World Tour.

You'll often hear music fans note that a particular song or artist "isn't [insert genre here] enough," but Church -- lucky him -- seems immune to such complaints ... not that he'd probably care anyway. The pre-set playlist blasting through the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., on Friday night (May 1) included everything from country tunes to Nirvana and Weezer, and when the lights dimmed and the singer and his band, mohawked and dressed in black leather, launched into "The Outsiders," it was hard to tell whether fans had come to see a country show or a rock show -- but clearly, it didn't matter.

Church's fans seem to know that good music is good music, and from the opening number's first notes right through the very last "whoa-oh-oh-oh" of "Springsteen," the crowd was eating up everything Church was serving. With a stage setup that is expansive yet sparse and a sincere way of delivering everything from the goofy, fun and decidedly country-sounding "Jack Daniels" to the bombastic, deep and very rock-ish "Devil, Devil," Church makes his genre-crossing setlists work because he keeps it all about the music.

That's not to say Church doesn't allow himself some more arena-sized moments: At the beginning of the set, his drummer and drum set are lowered to the stage from the rafters. His setlists include plenty of deep cuts ("Longer Gone," for example, a non-single from his 2009 album Carolina, was a late-set treat), which is a move ripped directly from Bruce Springsteen. Oh, and did we mention the giant inflatable devil that graces the back of the venue (and is straight-up terrifying) during "Devil, Devil"?

"What, you didn't expect a 50-foot Satan?" Church joked with the crowd after the song.

Still, above all, Church's two-hour sets -- or longer, if you're lucky; he noted at this particular show that his concert in Boston the night before (April 30) had stretched to around three hours -- are about, as he told the crowd near the end of "Springsteen," "connecting a melody and a memory." That night's audience members will likely remember watching Church crack up and lose his place in "Guys Like Me" after a fan near the stage did something silly; seeing him autograph a baby-sized cowboy boot, plucked from the audience during "These Boots;" and hearing the whole arena singing along to hits like "Talladega," "Drink in My Hand" and, of course, "Springsteen."

With a show like that, genre doesn't matter one bit.

Church's The Outsiders World Tour has dates scheduled through early September. A complete list of stops is available on his website.

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