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How Kenny Chesney’s Pandemic-Postponed Tour Returned to a ‘Whole New Level of Demand’

"We found ourselves adding seats in so many markets," says his manager Clint Higham.

Kenny Chesney was king of the road among country artists in 2022. The touring titan led all country acts reporting to Billboard Boxscore by grossing $135,046,047 from 41 stadium and arena shows on his Here and Now tour.

The total was also enough to land him at No. 9 on the all-genre Billboard Boxscore year-end tally. Additionally, he drew the highest attendance among country acts, attracting 1.3 million people. Chesney last topped the tally in 2018 with $114.3 million from 42 shows on his Trip Around the Sun stadium tour that drew 1.3 million people. (A limited 21-date arena tour in 2019 grossed $19.2 million.)

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The Here and Now Tour included dates originally scheduled for 2020 and then 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellations and postponements.

“We had missed each other so much,” Chesney tells Billboard of his fans. “I think we’d almost forgotten how good it was, and once we got there and felt that love – both off the stage and from the people – the word was out. We always have crazy great audiences, but this year, No Shoes Nation wanted  to be there, to share the moment in a way where we were making up for those years we couldn’t come together and rock.”

Chesney’s manager Clint Higham agrees, telling Billboard, “The people of No Shoes Nation are such intense fans, the being together after four years created its own energy and momentum. We found ourselves adding seats in so many markets to try to meet the demand because whether it was the people who’d held their tickets for over 1,000 days in many cases or the people buying those new tickets who felt the buzz and wanted to be there, it was a whole new level of demand based on what Kenny gives people.”

Coming in at second place — and No. 11 on the all-genre chart — Morgan Wallen grossed $128,718.950 from 66 shows on his first full arena outing. Wallen dominated the album charts as well: In September, his Dangerous: The Double Album broke the record for the most nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 by a singular artist with 86 weeks, surpassing the 85 weeks tallied by Peter, Paul & Mary’s self-titled album in 1962-1964.

Chris Stapleton, who led the tally last year with $33,884,658 from 32 shows, came in third in 2022 with a gross of $83,080,631 from 69 shows.

Country icon George Strait played only 10 shows to roll into fifth place, grossing $50,048,167 from 263,285 fans.

Fellow legend Reba McEntire was the only woman to make the top 10, grossing $27,506,847 from 27 shows. The outing has been extended into 2023 and will include her first headlining Madison Square Garden show.