The New York metro area, much maligned for its lack or affinity for country music, hosted what amounted to the market's first country festival in decades with the arrival of Kenny Chesney's Goin' Coastal tour at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday (Aug. 13).
The six-plus hour show, which also featured sets by Uncle Kracker, Billy Currington and Zac Brown Band, moved slightly more then 55,000 tickets at the year-old football stadium. It's the largest ticketed country show in the New York/New Jersey area since Willie Nelson was joined by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Linda Ronstadt at the facility's predecessor, Giants Stadium, in 1983.
"She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy"
Even though it's doubtful that a good portion of those in attendance at the suburban stadium off the New Jersey Turnpike call Michael Bloomberg their Mayor, it was certainly an impressive turnout. Many in attendance donned cowboy hats, cowboy boots and were full or good spirits (and filled with various spirits, if tailgating activity was any indication), looking forward to a few hours of feel-good country music, well-tailored for a summer day (and night). They were not disappointed.
The rest of the Chesney's set focused mainly on his uptempo/sing-a-long hits including "Beer in Mexico," "Summertime," "Living in Fast Forward" and "Young," He did sprinkle in some ballads, including past tour favorites "Anything But Mine" and "There Goes My Life" back-to-back towards the mid-way point of the show.
Chesney played up how important the New York-area show was to him a few times during the evening, emphasizing that he's had it circled on his calendar since the tour dates were announced early this year. Emphasizing the point, he had a reported 20-plus family members in attendance, including his mother who he brought out on stage for a quick moment. Chesney hasn't played in the vicinity since a stop at the 15,000 seat Jones Beach Amphitheater on Long Island in 2009. He's previously stated, ""When I first heard we'd be playing at the Meadowlands, I was ecstatic. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember and will be an unforgettable evening for everyone involved."
And it certainly was. Chesney was visibly enjoying each moment, as was the full house. The inclusion of covers such as Kid Rock's "Cowboy" (with Chesney giving a Jason Aldean-style rapping effort along side Rock's fellow Detroit pal Uncle Kracker), and "Blister in the Sun" (with frequent Chesney writing collaborator Mark Tamburino) enhanced his pre-encore performances which ended- fittingly enough in the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets- with the football ode "The Boys of Fall."
Guest vocalists and guests in general dotted the encore, which began with "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," on which he was joined on stage by Currington. Brown and his band came up next on a rendition of Alabama's "Dixieland Delight" followed by Chesney taking over the Jimmy Buffett lines on ZBB's recent chart-topper "Knee Deep." The pair stayed together for the rest of the encore, wrapping up the six-song finale with a rendition of Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" (with a quick chorus added by New York Yankees' Nick Swisher) and closing with a rousing take of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream." At the end, sports spotlight magnet Rex Ryan, coach of the New York Jets, led a contingent of friends and family on stage for a final round of hugs and bows and a celebration of a job well done shining a positive light on country music in the world's largest media market.
Kenny Chesney Set List, August 13, 2011
New Meadowlands Stadium
1) "Live a Little"
4) "Beer in Mexico"
5) "The Woman with You"
6) "Big Star"
7) "I Go Back"
8) "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem"
9) "Anything But Mine"
10) "There Goes My Life
11) "You and Tequila"
12) "Living in Fast Forward"
14) "Somewhere With You"
15) "Don't Happen Twice"
16) "Never Wanted Nothing More"
17) "Out Last Night"
18) "When the Sun Goes Down"
19) "Cowboy" cover of Kid Rock (with Uncle Kracker)
20) "Blister in the Sun" cover of Violent Femmes (with Mark Tamburino)
21) "How Forever Feels"
22) "The Boys of Fall"
23) "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" (w Currington)
Below with Zac Brown Band
24) "Dixieland Delight"
25) "Knee Deep"
26) "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven"
27) Medley: "Space Cowboy" cover of Steve Miller Band/ "Three Little Birds" cover of Bob Marley
28) "Running Down a Dream" cover of Tom Petty