Live Gig Review and Photos: DJ
It’s always fun and exciting to feature a new music venue in town, especially when it’s new and one that comes highly touted. Hailed as one of the premier venues in the southeast region; The Orion Amphitheater finally opened its doors a few weeks ago after long construction and 4 years of plans that ultimately had to deal with Covid and everything else in between. The $40 million investment is here with open arms and we couldn’t wait to get in and see all the feels. Complementary to what Huntsville has become now, one of the best cities to live in the country, we get to enjoy venues like these that ultimately bring in big acts, and tours.
Capacity holds at 8000 and the only other venue in town bigger is the Arena at the Von Braun Center. Is convenient to have the option to attend a big venue, outdoor, and in a part of town; Midcity that keeps on growing and is close to just about anything Huntsville has to offer. Getting to the venue was a pretty easy drive for us, with a new exit to Midcity from Research Park, we get to the parking area in a few minutes. Thanks to the staff for arranging parking for us and Orion’s marketing staff for the hospitality. A 5-minute walk from the parking to the venue has us picking up our creds at one of the two box office booths, then quickly we hit the security screen and we are in. We are taken to the Pit area which on this night Dierks Bentley PR has allowed us to shoot the first two opening bands (Travis Denning and Ashley Mcbryde) from the pit. A few observations from the venue were the recycle bins all over the building as The Orion recycles all the cups etc, wish more venues did this honestly. Also, the Sky view bars offered at the top level of the venue are solid and very clean. A bit of a walk to get up there but once you are in the venue there is plenty of space to move about throughout the facility. We discussed the acoustics further down the article, but any spot in the Amphitheater serves as a solid view of the main stage, you can’t go wrong with seating here.
Opener Travis Denning started making his name in the country music world with his single “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” in 2018 and has steadily kept climbing in the scene after years of playing and grinding all the local gigs and bars like many country rock artists do. He kicks things off around 7 pm here at Orion. With a nice blend of traditional country and heavier rock-laden grooves, we enjoyed his performance and one that helped kick off the night and perfectly welcome listeners to the “Beers on Me” tour.
Ashley Mcbryde cut her teeth at a very early age in the country scene, bringing a versatile style of country, bluegrass, and country-pop into the forefront. With two albums under her belt now and multiple awards for New Female Vocalist and New Artist, Ashley is a proven talent in the country music scene, and judging by her phenomenal voice, it shows. For those wondering recently, Ashely co-wrote another award-winning tune titled “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” (with Carly Pearce)” and this one has garnered even more well-deserved recognition. Things are riding high and on this steamy night, her distinguished performance at Orion tonight helps move the fanbase even more; with a wonderful all-around set and her interaction with the audience was superb. With staple tracks such as “El Dorado”, “Whiskey and Country Music” and “One Night Standards” among many others to further glisten her repertoire of music. An especially lengthy set was on full display and her fans at Orion were left very satisfied.
The night is still young and once evening sets, Dierks Bentley the veteran country megastar is ready to deliver. In 2018 Bently released his now 9th album “The Mountain and Hot Country Knights”, and added Grammy nominations for multiple albums throughout his career, on top of multiple country music awards, he brings quite a resume to Huntsville. Big props to the marketing and booking folks involved in Orion to add some big tours already to the calendar, this one is no exception.
While the stage is getting ready, we get adjusted to shoot from the soundboard area per tour requirements. Here at Orion, the soundboard is not that far back, and it gives the photographer a decent shot of capturing a good live moment without sacrificing depth and sharpness. What is noticeable is the fantastic lighting and video production work backstage, which transforms the night into a cinematic experience. The sound at Orion is pristine and clear from different areas of the venue, far away you can hear the music even outside of the building, needless to say, the acoustics here are terrific.
Bentley has a full setlist ahead with some of his biggest hits all being performed with keen and immaculate precision. Such top hits appear via “Burning Man”, and “Bad Angel” which brings on stage Ashley Mcbryde and Travis Denning as well. Another fun and enjoyable cut are provided via the cover of “Devil Went Down To Georgia” which gives Dan Hochhalter a chance to shine on the fiddle. Of course “Beers on Me” makes an untimely appearance on this party tour setlist, with the crowd-pleaser “Drunk on a Plane” towards the end. Don’t forget to check out this summer tour if you get a chance. Is all about country, friends and beer and having a great time. We toast to that!!!
Beers on Me Tour 2022
6/11/22 Huntsville, AL – The Orion Amphitheater
6/23/22 Bangor, ME – Maine Savings Amphitheater
6/24/22 Mansfield, MA – XFINITY Center
6/25/22 Hartford, CT – XFINITY Theatre
7/08/22 Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Amphitheater
7/09/22 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
7/14/22 Charleston, SC – Credit One Stadium
7/15/22 Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
7/16/22 Belmont, OH – Blame My Roots Fest
7/23/22 Cheyenne, WY – Cheyenne Frontier Days
7/28/22 Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion
7/29/22 Wheatland, CA – Toyota Amphitheatre
7/30/22 Stateline, NV – Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys
8/04/22 Rogers, AR – Walmart AMP
8/05/22 Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion
8/06/22 Wichita, KS – INTRUST Bank Arena
8/13/22 Scranton, PA – The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
8/14/22 Atlantic City, NJ – TidalWave Festival
8/18/22 Estero, FL – Hertz Arena
8/19/22 West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
8/20/22 Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
8/26/22 Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
8/27/22 Mill Spring, NC – A Night in the Country East
8/28/22 Jacksonville, FL – Daily’s Place
9/10/22 Billings, MT – MetraPark
9/11/22 Missoula, MT – Adams Center