Kenny Chesney’s Caribbean Carnival Sweeps Through New Jersey: Live Review

Kenny Chesney
Review
4.5
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
<p><a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/305717/kenny-chesney/chart">Kenny&nbsp;Chesney</a>&nbsp;is a country star of a bygone era. He entered MetLife Stadium on&nbsp;Saturday night (Aug. 15) on a zip line chair a la&nbsp;<a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/281569/beyonce/chart">Beyoncé</a>&nbsp;or <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/371422/taylor-swift/chart">Taylor</a>&nbsp;--&nbsp;and to that crowd, he was&nbsp;just&nbsp;as exciting as either of the world’s biggest pop stars. Maybe detractors don’t&nbsp;understand that country music has always been more about class than region, and&nbsp;the working class people of New York and New Jersey came out in droves for one of the last full-blown country stars of the major label era. Chesney is a&nbsp;singer/songwriter out of Knoxville who became a big star back in 2002 when his carefree, island-inspired album&nbsp;<em>No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems</em>&nbsp;spawned five singles that hit Top 10 on the country charts. In the 13 years&nbsp;since then, Chesney has done nothing but go up. His 2011 double header with <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/429939/tim-mcgraw/chart">Tim&nbsp;McGraw</a> broke records for the largest ticketed country event in NYC/N.J. history, but&nbsp;last night, he <a href="https://twitter.com/MLStadium/status/632733213606211584" target="_blank">broke his own record</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6627176/kenny-chesney-big-revival-tour-sales"><strong>Kenny Chesney's Big Revival Tour Has Already Grossed Over $50 Million</strong></a></p><p>Chesney’s circus-sized national tour is more akin to a full-fledged traveling town&nbsp;than anything else, and he’s got a packed bill for the&nbsp;fans&nbsp;that come out. Things&nbsp;kicked off last night with RCA’s brand-new country guy-group <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/6282598/old-dominion/chart">Old Dominion</a>&nbsp;-- who&nbsp;penned Kenny’s latest heartbreak-avoiding single “Save It for a&nbsp;Rainy Day” -- and&nbsp;continued right on through with <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/5680583/cole-swindell/chart">Cole&nbsp;Swindell</a>, <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/297080/brantley-gilbert/chart">Brantley Gilbert</a> and <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/304236/jason-aldean/chart">Jason&nbsp;Aldean</a>.&nbsp;Old Dominion’s current radio hit “Break Up With Him” is half <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/5841724/sam-hunt/chart">Sam Hunt</a>, half <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/308556/luke-bryan/chart">Luke&nbsp;Bryan</a> and seems headed straight for a No. 1 slot. It’s got the same sly, spoken word&nbsp;appeal of Hunt’s “Take Your Time” thrown into the mold of a late night confessional&nbsp;phone call. Meanwhile,&nbsp;Swindell&nbsp;and Gilbert represented the yin and yang of&nbsp;country’s current themes;&nbsp;Swindell&nbsp;relied on his tailgate anthem “Brought to You By&nbsp;Beer” and the whiskey-fueled booty call “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” while&nbsp;Gilbert mixed hard rock elements and his rich, low growl for a heartfelt ballad&nbsp;dedicated to his new wife&nbsp;Amber Cochran, “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” and his&nbsp;military-honoring “One Hell of an Amen.” Then of course, he channeled&nbsp;his thorny&nbsp;backwoods style into a drinking anthem of his own, the outlaw bluster of “Bottoms&nbsp;Up.”<br><br>As for the pre-Chesney acts, though, co-headliner Jason&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;was the one who really brought the crowd&nbsp;to life. He and Chesney meshed their headlining tours for 10&nbsp;stadium shows this&nbsp;year, and though he’s a few years behind Chesney,&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;more than makes up for it&nbsp;in heart. He meshes the blood, sweat and tears of the working class mentality with a&nbsp;certain&nbsp;free-falling&nbsp;euphoria that transcends the beer, hook-up and gusto of most&nbsp;current country singers. More than anyone else,&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;ushers in the era of the new&nbsp;country star; he's equal parts rock star, sensitive balladeer and wild-eyed&nbsp;backroads&nbsp;guide. He commands a stadium like he was born to do it, but he's still polite enough&nbsp;to thank you for being there to watch him grace the stage.&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;is the kind of&nbsp;country singer who can do three slowed-down ballads in a row, and then effortlessly&nbsp;turn things back up with a rowdy anthem like “Just Gettin’ Started." There’s a lot of&nbsp;discussion right now about the current batch of songs that country men write about&nbsp;the women they love, but Aldean’s set-closer “She’s Country” is one of the best&nbsp;tributes to the fairer sex that’s been laid to tape. The song’s subject is all horsepower&nbsp;and fireballs, guitar solos and revved engines, and when he belted it out against a&nbsp;backdrop of fireworks, Jersey girls sang it back with the same devotion as any&nbsp;Georgia peach.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/6627399/kenny-chesney-save-it-for-a-rainy-day-video"><strong>Kenny Chesney Forgets About Heartache in the Bahamas in 'Save It for a Rainy Day' Video: Watch</strong></a></p><p>So by the time Chesney breezed over the crowd like a tropical wind last night, they’d&nbsp;been more than exposed to where country music is right now. Chesney handpicks&nbsp;his own lineup, and despite the packed bill, no one held a candle to his uncanny&nbsp;charisma and the massive roster of hits he brings to the table. Though he may wear&nbsp;cowboy boots and tight jeans, Chesney continues to breathe his adopted island way&nbsp;of life into tried-and-true country ethos. “No Shoes Nation” flags&nbsp;flew high and wild all across the stadium, and Chesney’s signature&nbsp;cowboy hat is a woven straw one that serves as a callback both to his Tennessee&nbsp;roots and his newfound home away from home in the Caribbean. His latest album,&nbsp;2014’s&nbsp;<em>The Big Revival</em>, marks his thirteenth No. 1 debut on the country album charts, and while he kicked off the show with “Drink It Up" --&nbsp;a new song off&nbsp;that record --&nbsp;it’s 2005 throwbacks like “Summertime” that had the crowd belting&nbsp;every word. Chesney’s been at this for over 20 years, and though he’s a&nbsp;seasoned veteran, he still brings the excitement of a wide-eyed kid to one of the&nbsp;largest stages in the country.&nbsp;<br><br>For his encore, Chesney obviously had to perform his ode to farming, “She Thinks My&nbsp;Tractor’s Sexy.” But he also brought&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;back out to perform “The Only Way I&nbsp;Know” and &nbsp;to&nbsp;join him on a cover of Bryan Adams’ classic “Summer of ’69.” At the start&nbsp;of the show, someone gifted Chesney an honorary Jersey firefighters helmet. To&nbsp;close out the night,&nbsp;Aldean&nbsp;donned the hat in a show of solidarity not just with&nbsp;Jersey, but with a way of life. Chesney might be a star from a bygone era, but that&nbsp;hasn’t stopped him from ushering in the new guard with pride. Either way, don’t&nbsp;believe in the backlash -- our genre is in good hands.<br><br>Setlist:<br>“Drink It Up”<br>“Reality"<br>“Beer in Mexico”<br>“Till It’s Gone”<br>“Summertime”<br>“Pirate Flag”<br>“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems”<br>“Somewhere With You”<br>“I Go Back"<br>“Wild Child”<br>“Living in Fast Forward”<br>“Whole&nbsp;Lotta&nbsp;Rosie” (<a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/275312/acdc/chart">AC/DC</a> cover)<br>“American Kids”<br>“Anything But Mine”<br>“You and Tequila”<br>“How Forever Feels”<br>“Out Last Night”<br>“Don’t Happen Twice”<br>“Boys of Fall”<br><br>Encore:<br>“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”<br>“Hurt So Good” (<a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/304981/john-mellencamp/chart">John&nbsp;Mellencamp</a>&nbsp;cover)<br>“The Only Way I Know”<br>“Summer of ’69” (Bryan Adams cover with Jason&nbsp;Aldean)</p>