Maybe you can't take the country out of the boy, but you can take the country boy to the big city and he can still kick some butt. Hardcore country star Eric Church has landed in some mighty prestigious company now that none other than the New York Times has lauded his concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom last March 14 as one of the year's best.

"A mean show, as these things go," the august publication opined. "Mr. Church has clawed his way into the country mainstream with a series of post-outlaw anthems, and he delivered them with verve and tension, as if he might not be allowed to for much longer."

That's nothing new to Church, who's been delivering incendiary live shows for years in venues ranging from clubs to huge coliseums. "I’ve done it so much — bars, clubs, all the way up to theaters and being opening acts, to here — arenas," he told Taste of Country in September. "It’s almost like you’ve got your uniform on and it’s game time."

Church is planning to take some time off in 2013 to be with his family after capping off an amazing 2012 by winning a CMA Award for Album of the Year. But fans who love his live shows, don't worry -- the 'Springsteen' hitmaker plans to release a live album this year that he recorded during 2012's Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour.