With the anticipation that has escalated for Kenny Chesney’s 17th studio album, “Song for the Saints,” his Trip Around the Sun Tour was sure to be a hit. But, the hype stems from more than just the music. Chesney dedicated this album to the Hurricane Irma refuges and hopes to bring back the light-hearted air that the Caribbean Islands give to its inhabitants. These new songs and this tour show that fear and loss can be replaced with hope and love.
Chesney has again captured the spirit of previous tours and the lifestyle of No Shoes Nation with this performance. He brought the energy, and in return, the audience reciprocated. From his guitar playing to his cocked-hip body movement, this concert was pure Chesney. Only a few songs in he yelled, “I feel every one of you tonight.” I knew as soon those words rang through the stadium, that would sum up the overall feeling of the night. And it did.
The opening acts only added to this increased energy. A new country artist with the hit “Speakers, Bleachers, and Preachers” Brandon Lay began the night. While his set was the shortest and maybe not the most memorable from the list, he left his sweat on the stage. Literally, his t-shirt was soaked. I have no doubt this performer will make bigger headlines after this tour.
Old Dominion was the second performer of the night. Instead of getting rowdy and moving around a lot, they brought a mellow vibe to the show. With songs like “Break Up with Him” and “Written in the Sand,” the band caused a ripple of sways, and the fans got a little louder.
This next musician needs no introduction. Thomas Rhett was as much of an anticipated act in my mind as Chesney. Rhett brings a whole new perspective to concerts; he is energetic and purposeful, wild and retrospective, and knows how to bust a move on stage with confidence. His set connected with the audience. He snapped selfies with fans, signed hats and shirts, all while not skipping a beat, or a lyric. You can tell he thrives living that concert life.
Four hours later, even after an already fulfilling concert, it was time for the man of the tour. After over twenty-five years of performing professionally, Chesney still has the charisma it takes to keep an audience engaged and energized. There may have been sore feet in that stadium, but nobody showed it. Everyone from the Sandbar to the nosebleeds was dancing and screaming along to the lyrics. Chesney played most of his hit songs, including, “Summertime,” “American Kids,” and his new single, “Get Along.”
Halfway through the performance, he invited longtime friend and songwriter, David Lee Murphy to sing his and Chesney’s hit, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” amongst others. But this wasn’t the only appearance by another performer. Chesney invited Old Dominion front men, Matthew Ramsay and Trevor Rosen, to sing “Save it for a Rainy Day,” the song they wrote for him. Rhett also came back for one more song and a quick selfie with fans. Chesney left it all on the stage up to the last song, where Lay joined during the encore and gave the country girls one more ride with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
I believe an artist’s most significant obstacle at a concert is to keep the audience not only entertained but connected with the music and lyrics. We go to shows for more than the songs. If that weren’t true, we would save our money and listen for free on streaming platforms. Concerts are designed for community and entertainment. To hear the music in it’s purest form, straight from artist to fan, can be a life-changing experience.
[Cover Photo from 104.1 Jack FM Website]