“Feel the vibration of the No Shoes Nation,” warned an old New Orleans street preacher in the opening video of Kenny Chesney’s show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville last night (March 26).
The vibration that ensued was more like an earthquake as Chesney celebrated the opening night of his tour—and his birthday—with a three-hour, sold-out show that included surprise guests Joe Walsh, Taylor Swift, Uncle Kracker, David Lee Murphy, and Grace Potter. It was the first of a two-night run at the arena.
“To say I missed you guys is an understatement,” said the performer who had taken a break from the road since 2013.
Back with the aptly named The Big Revival Tour, Chesney was a sleeveless-shirted preacher sprinting across the stage under a spinning disco ball, telling his congregation to live in the moment God gave them. It’s that offering of escapism—and too many hits to count—that make him the entertainer of every year. Just like his song “Reality” advises, “everybody needs to break free from reality.”
His “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” attitude permeated, singing the worry-free hits “Beer in Mexico,” “Keg in the Closet” and “Summertime.” Even when he offered the moody “Somewhere With You,” he rebounded with upbeat “I Go Back.”
As the night went on, Chesney went further back in his catalog, leading singalongs of early career hits “There Goes My Life,” “How Forever Feels” and “Never Wanted Nothing More.” Murphy appeared to offer the songs he made famous, “Dust On The Bottle” and “Party Crowd.”
Potter joined him for their current hit “Wild Child” as well as “You And Tequila.” Uncle Kracker came out for “When The Sun Goes Down.”
Walsh led the crowd in “Happy Birthday” and performed four other songs, closing out the concert with “All Night Long.”
By the end of the show, everyone wanted to move to No Shoes Nation, but were forced back to reality in the chilly night.
Chesney’s Sony Music Nashville labelmates Jake Owen and Chase Rice opened with strong performances.
Owen’s beach scene set included palm trees—an inviting backdrop as he reminded how many hits he’s tallied, including “Alone With You,” “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” “Days of Gold,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “The One That Got Away” and a spotlight solo of “What We Ain’t Got.”
The tour continues for an encore tonight in Nashville, before hitting cities across the country this summer.