Chesney & McGraw end summer tour in Foxboro

A review of Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw at Gillette Stadium on August 24, 2012

, Editor-in-Chief

As predictable as he can be, there is no doubt where Kenny Chesney stands as a performer. The country superstar returned to Massachusetts last weekend for two shows at Gillette Stadium, closing out his “Brothers of the Sun” tour with fellow veteran Tim McGraw. Fans know what to expect but they come back year after year for what always proves to be the summer’s biggest party.

Chesney is a dynamic performer and one that can command a stadium of 55,000+ adoring fans with ease. Friday’s show, the first of two consecutive nights at Gillette, was similar to last year’s, which of course was similar to most of his other stops in Foxboro over the past decade. With a deep catagologue of massive country hits, Chesney is able to play around with the setlist more often than he actually does. Still, the sing-alongs were plentiful on Friday, starting with opener “Beer in Mexico”. He started the song from a b-stage in the middle of the field, before hoping onto a seat that flew him over to the main stage for the remainder of the show.

The Tennessee native made his home on the giant catwalks the cross-crossed through the field. He worked up a quick sweat, running all across the area, slapping hands and working the crowd into a frenzy with each move. After feel good rockers “Summertime” and “Realty”, he slowed things down for the Jimmy Buffet-like “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems”. Despite having released a brand new album titled Welcome to the Fishbowl in June, Chesney only delivered a pair of new songs including current single “Come Over”. Instead, he favored the older material and kept the hits rolling with the likes of “I Go Back”, “Anything But Mine”, “Living In Fast Foward” and “Young”.

It’s clear that Chesney genuinely enjoys performing in New England. For the second year straight, he decided to close out the tour here and throughout Friday’s show he thanked the crowd for their continued support. He declared that he always looks forward to performing “She’s From Boston” in Foxboro and the crowd did not disappoint with one of the night’s biggest sing-alongs. Chesney then welcomed Vermont’s Grace Potter on stage to perform their smash duet, which he claimed is quickly becoming one of his favorite songs, “You and Tequila”.

The set kicked back into high gear with “Out Last Night”, followed by a pair of fan favorites in “When The Sun Goes Down” and “Don’t Happen Twice”. The cheesy football anthem “Boys of Fall” brought the main set to a close before Chesney returned with McGraw for the two to deliver their new collaborative single “Feel Like A Rockstar”. The two then traded a pair of their own classics, with Chesney singing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and McGraw taking the lead for “Indian Outlaw”. Potter and fellow opener Jake Owen joined the two for a fun finale of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty”.

Like a good summer blockbuster, Chesney always delivers an entertaining show. There is a reason he’s won 4-time Entertainer of the Year winner at both the CMA and ACM awards. And there hasn’t been a more consistent touring act at the stadium level in the past decade. Still, with all that said, it would be nice to see Chesney find a way to re-invent the show or find a more dynamic stage (ie: U2’s infamous “Claw” stage from their 360 tour).

Chesney always picks a strong touring mate and this year was no different with McGraw. The co-headliner delivered a 90-minute set that mixed old staples with new material. He began the set with “Felt Good On My Lips” off his latest album, Emotional Traffic. McGraw worked the stage well, to the delight of the predominately female crowd who ate up songs like “Real Good Man”. He reached back deep in the catalogue for 1994’s “Down On The Farm” and sounded best on the more true country rooted tunes of “Where The Green Grass Grows” and “Just To See You Smile”.

McGraw even took time to preview a pair of new songs off his forthcoming untitled album to mixed results. The first and better of the two was a fun poppy keyboard-driven tune called “Mexicoma”. “Let It Go” was a mid-set standout before he turned on the frontman/preacher role to amp up the crowd for “How Bad Do You Want It”. He picked up a guitar and joined his solid backing band for a rocking run through “Southern Voice” before leading the crowd through a passionate sing-along of the poignant “Live Like You Were Dying” to close the main set. McGraw returned for a crowd-pleasing three song encore of “The Cowboy In Me”, “I Like It, I Love It” and the utterly disastrous new silly single “Truck Yeah”.

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals were out of their element but that didn’t stop the Vermont-based band from rocking through a solid 45-minute opening set. Potter was introduced to the country crowd last year thanks to the success of her hit duet with Chesney, “You and Tequila”. The set began casually with the soulful opener “Nothing But The Water” before the band turned up the amps for “The Lion The Beast The Beat”, the title track off the band’s brand new album. “This is the closet thing to a hometown stadium we’ll ever play”, Potter declared before launching into the band’s new power ballad single “Stars”. A wise cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” won over the crowd before the band brought their set to a rocking close with “Medicine”.

Early arrivals were treated to a quick set from rising country star Jake Owen, who closed out his set with hits “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”, “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” and “Eight Second Ride”.

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