Eric Church plays Pechanga Arena Friday. What classic ‘San Diego songs’ might he do here?

Eric Church
Eric Church, shown here on March 6 in Las Vegas, performs Friday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Expect to hear at least one Bruce Springsteen favorite, and possibly a few classic “San Diego songs,” by Church here.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images for ACM)

How different is the hard-rocking Eric Church from other country-music stars?


How different is the hard-rocking Eric Church from other country-music stars?

Last year, he posed for the cover of a national weekly music industry magazine while getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

This year, he canceled his sold-out April 2 San Antonio concert so he could instead attend a Final Four basketball match in New Orleans.

As a songwriter, Church addresses issues few country artists go near, be it the death penalty (“Lightning”), a teen couple awaiting the results of a pregnancy test (“Two Pink Lines”) or the pain hateful rhetoric can cause (“Kill a Word”).

Up for four Grammy Awards next month, the country-rocking singer, songwriter and band leader isn’t interested in disposable party songs sold for a dollar apiece.

On tour, when the mood strikes, he’ll do songs by artists from the city he is playing in (Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Nelly’s “Country Grammar” and “Ride Wit Me” at his March 12 St. Louis concert). It’s a crowd-pleasing move that everyone from Patti Smith to have Taylor Swift have employed over the years, but they have done so with a single song, not several.

So, what “San Diego songs” might Church do for his concert Friday night at Pechanga Arena?

Here are some suggestions:

Tom Waits’ “San Diego Serenade,” Rosie & The Originals’ “Angel Baby,” Jack Tempchin’s “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” JJ Cale and Eric Clapton’s “Road to Escondido” and, of course, Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

There is at least one other enticing option.

Since Church’s April concerts have featured a Bruce Springsteen classic each night immediately preceding Church’s 2012 hit, “Springsteen,” he could up the ante here by singing The Boss’ “Balboa Park” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” the latter of which includes the choice couplet: “I know a pretty little place in Southern California, down San Diego way ...”

8 p.m. Friday. Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District. $34 to $164.