Country music may have its roots in the hills of the South but it goes over just as well at sea level. Waterfront Concerts brought country star Dierks Bentley to the Maine State Pier in Portland on Thursday night, for the first in a new series coming to the venerable landing.

With gulls circling and island ferries coming and going nearby, the large crowd quickly adapted to the setting and was ready for the good time the singer often celebrates in his songs.

Bentley took the stage, set at the end of the pier, backed by a five-piece band. Tunes from his new album “Riser,” plus some older favorites and several covers, filled up the high-energy, 90-minute-plus performance.

“5-1-5-0” and “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)” quickly established that Bentley and the crowd were on the same page as far as letting it all out. “Drunk on a Plane,” from the new album, further solidified the mood, with the singer bringing up a couple of “flight attendants” from the crowd to dance behind him.

The 38-year-old Arizona native likes to give a traditional feel to many songs, adding banjo, fiddle and steel guitar to the heavier electric sounds most often heard at big-league country shows. His baritone voice also harkens back to the hard-drinking, tough-loving good ol’ boys from an earlier era of the music.

“Up on the Ridge” fit nicely into the slightly-retro category, with an instrumental break that combined mandolin, fiddle and banjo as Bentley asked for “one little kiss/when we get high up on the ridge” to the delight, particularly, of the many young (and young at heart) women in the audience. The romantic lyrics within “Come a Little Closer” also went over well in that respect.

Local artists North of Nashville opened the evening. Sharing Bentley’s taste for classic country, the duo (which added two members on several tunes), opened with “Eyes for Me” and “The Lady and the Outlaw.” In all, North of Nashville ably supported Bentley in bringing that down-home feeling into port.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.