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Kenny Chesney Closes BIG REVIVAL 2015 with Gillette Record

Credit: Jill Trunnell

Credit: Jill Trunnell

Kenny Chesney’s decade-long love affair with Gillette Stadium – the place where his rabid No Shoes Nation was named – hit a new high this weekend. Having set and broken his own record myriad times, the man The Dallas Morning News called “two parts Mick Jagger, one part Bruce Springsteen and one part Billy Graham” hit another new number tonight (Saturday, Aug. 29).

With 60,082 fans Friday and 60,124 fans Saturday, Kenny Chesney played to 120,206 fans this weekend. Without final tallies, it was already determined that in nine trips to Foxborough, Chesney played to over three-quarters of a million fans. With a tent show revivalist’s fervor, the man The Wall Street Journal called “The King of the Road” never slowed over 2 1/2 hours each night – prompting The Boston Globe headline: “Crowd belongs to Chesney at Gillette.”

“Some nights you just know you’re going new places up there,” Chesney said after the show. “I could hear the fans long before the swing was above the platform – and flying over all those heads, seeing the faces, I could tell Boston had been waiting for these shows almost as much me and the band had! The No Shoes Nation are some of the fiercest, most passionate music lovers – and there is nothing like the way they come at these songs.”

Wearing a Grace Potter & the Nocturnals t-shirt the first night as the crowd almost drowned him out on “American Kids,” Chesney embodied the euphoria of truly being alive and in the moment. He brought Matthew Ramsey and Brad Tursi from stadium opener Old Dominion out for “Save It For A Rainy Day,” which they co-wrote; then introduced David Lee Murphy as “the original Hillbilly Rock Star” for “Dust On The Bottle” and “Party Crowd.”

“And just when you think it can’t get any better, the last night of the tour hit,” Chesney continued. “The audience was even louder, live-er and sang every single word back to us! You can’t begin to imagine something like that, and knowing we’re putting the tents up for another year, we’ll hear their cheers until it’s time to start it up again for next year.”

Performing “She Came From Boston” for a second straight night, Chesney then had songwriter/vocalist Gretchen Rhodes join him to share the highly emotional “Happy On The Hey Now,” written as a memorial for one of the original pack of island girls he befriended long before superstardom hit. Tourmate Cole Swindell appeared in a t-shirt from Chesney’s alma mater East Tennessee State University and Robert and John Kraft brought the Patriots’ four Super Bowl trophies onstage during an especially poignant “Boys of Fall.”

“We moved the stage all the way back,” Chesney said of the landmark nights. “The only way we’re gonna get more people in is to add another night, and that would be crazy. But man, when you hear those folks singing back to you… see all those arms sweeping from side to side… We could be up there all night! Just the way that energy hits you, there’s nothing like it.”

Bringing co-headliner Jason Aldean out for the encore, Chesney wore baggy No Shoes Nation basketball shorts and no shoes. Having set or broken records in Minneapolis’ Target Stadium, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ’s Met Life Stadium, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, as well as putting 55,000 in the Rose Bowl, he brought all that collected energy to his final concerts of the Big Revival 2015 – showing the world why he is the only country artist on Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years.

Kenny Chesney Breaks Record & Hearts at MetLife Stadium

Credit: Allister Ann

Credit: Allister Ann

Midway through Kenny Chesney’s beyond belly-to-belly packed set, MetLife Stadium sent out a Tweet that said: “Congrats @kennychesney – Highest selling country artist OF ALL TIME in NJ! Thanks Kenny & the 58,642 fans here 2nite!” Marking his fourth appearance at the stadium where the Giants and Mets play, Chesney had topped his own number for the third time, besting a record set by Willie Nelson in the ‘70s.

Chesney’s appearance at MetLife Stadium also makes him the only country act in a pretty potent dozen – selling 223,582 tickets over four appearances. It also makes him the only country act in the top dozen artists who’ve played there – nestled between Pink Floyd and the Who – since 1976, the East Tennessean has struck a chord with the hard-music loving fans to put him in the company of the Stones, U2, Elton John, Bon Jovi, the Grateful Dead and yes, Bruce Springsteen.

“The thing about East Rutherford,” Chesney said, “they’re all heart – and they bring it. That passion, the way they really throw themselves at life, really dig in and live it full tilt… that’s how they love music, too. I’ve never walked out of MetLife not rocked to my core, and they just throw you against the wall with how they come to the shows. I could feel tonight was even more intense, but I had no idea they’d crushed the record again.”

This has been a summer of record-smashing. With 135 stadium shows played once the Big Revival 2015 is over, the man The Dallas Morning News wrote is “Two parts Mick Jagger, one part Bruce Springsteen and one part Billy Graham,” has broken his previously set records – some for the second and third time — at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and Minneapolis’ Target Field and Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, as well as selling over 55,000 tickets at Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl.

Just as important as the numbers are the people. Halfway through “I Go Back,” his songs as memory-capturing No. 1s, Chesney leaned into the crowd to high-five a young woman with Downs Syndrome, who yelled to come up onstage with him. Reaching his hand out, he helped lift the brown-haired girl onto the stage – and gave her a hug. Without missing a beat, the young lady announced, “I just want to let you know… Kenny Chesney is my true love,” to massive audience cheers. “He inspires me, and right now, I want to kiss him on the lips. Do you want to see it?”

Telling the crowd, “Okay, let me wipe the sweat off,” he laughed and did as the young woman asked. But the girl had more on her mind than a kiss from her favorite singer. Asking him for the mic again, he let her speak: “His music got me through the toughest times. His music inspires me. The reason why I want to be on the stage was because my grandfather’s dream was to see me up here, to sing with Kenny…” Pausing as the audience cheered, she looked at the 8-time Entertainer of the Year, then back at the crowd, “Do you want to see me sing more with Kenny Chesney? Because I’ve been doing it for 24 years…”

Chesney, who’d already confessed “it takes a lot to embarrass me” onstage, turned to the crowd, and announced, “This is the reason we write songs. Right there!” As the stage dropped to darkness, he took her hand, went to the main mic and hugged the young lady in the blue kurta top to his side as he sang his 27th No. 1, the wildly appropriate celebration of women, “Wild Child.”

“That young woman had so much heart, so much spirit,” Chesney said of his surprise guest. “She was just fearless and true and wanted to tell people what was on her mind. Talk about inspiring all of us about how to live our lives?”

Having hosted movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Ashton Kutcher, rockers Joe Walsh and Grace Potter as well as NFL stars, baseball stand-outs and coaches of every stripe, East Rutherford, New Jersey’s surprise guest may well have topped them all. As the final weeks approach – including stops at Detroit’s Ford Field 8/22 and a tour-ending double at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium 8/28-29, the man The Wall Street Journal called “The King of the Road” – who took 2013 off to make his No. 1 The Big Revival and then prep this tour — is reaching an intensity onstage even greater than when the tour kicked off in May.

Kenny Chesney Takes Mile High Higher

kenny chesney

Kenny Chesney grew up watching the Denver Broncos playing on TV, so playing Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High was one of the shows he was looking forward to. Evidently, Denver shared that anticipation as Chesney’s Big Revival 2015 Tour stop sold 54,674 – the most ever for an end zone set-up show at the iconic football stadium.

“Since I started coming here to play the Grizzly Rose, the Denver fans have been a big part of taking my music where it’s gone… and they sure did tonight!” Chesney said after the show. “We have had some incredible shows in Denver, including those crazy nights at Red Rocks, which I didn’t think anything could top. This just did.”

To gear up for the Mile High show, Chesney spent the morning at practice with the Broncos. Wearing a Tennessee t-shirt in solidarity with his good friend Peyton Manning, who was at practice, Chesney took in the drills and got focused up for his sold-out show.

Football was the day’s underlying theme. Earlier that evening, Chesney was invoked during legendary general manager Ron Wolf’s speech during his induction into the Football Hall of Fame. The man who spent 22 seasons with the Raiders before transforming the Green Bay Packers, opened his comments with “I’d like to start by quoting my good friend Kenny Chesney, ‘This is our moment, This is our time/ This is our destiny, This is our night to shine…”

“My friends in the NFL were blowing my phone up with texts when Ron did that,” Chesney marveled. “Ron Wolf meant so much to football, he changed the game, but he also believed in the passion and the work it takes to make a team great. Those same ideas are what I brought with me to Nashville when I was a kid; the idea it transfers… what do you say?”

Naturally Chesney’s celebration of high school “The Boys of Fall” took on even deeper tones during the otherwise high-energy set. Pulling a girl in her mid-teens from the crowd, Chesney gave the petite brunette in a red plaid shirt a hug and then set the signed Broncos helmet on her head. The crowd erupted as loud as they’d done for “American Kids,” “Out Last Night” or “Summertime.”

“I like the idea of giving a girl the helmet,” Chesney says. “Like ‘Wild Child,’ it says women really can do anything. It’s important people know and think that. When you see this, I think it resets the way we look at the world! Dream and be what you want. Just look at me…”

As the Big Revival 2015 starts to wind down, there are several major stadiums ahead: E. Rutherford, NJ’s Met Life Stadium 8/15, Detroit’s Ford Field 8/22 and a double at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium 8/28-29.

Kenny Chesney Breaks Pink Floyd’s Record

Credit: Jill Trunnel

Credit: Jill Trunnel

The traffic on I-70 was backed up for well over an hour going both directions. The parking lots were flooded as soon as they opened the gates. It should’ve been obvious before the tickets were tallied something special was going on; but for fans coming to Arrowhead Stadium for Kenny Chesney’s Big Revival, it seemed like it was the annual rite of summer for the No Shoes Nation.

But when the tickets were counted, Chesney had shattered Pink Floyd’s 1994 record of 56,134 with 57,368 in attendance. This year’s show marked Chesney fourth headlining stand at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I had no idea about the number when we took the stage,” Chesney marveled when he was told. “Pink Floyd are rock icons. Every kid’s high school experience… I never ever would’ve thought something like that could happen. We’ve been coming to Kansas City for years, and they’ve always been really loud audiences. But when we hit the stage, it felt like all those years, all those shows were added up into one – and that was what we were being hit with.”

Chesney, who attended practice with the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, was clearly in the zone. Hailed by The Dallas Morning News as “Two parts Mick Jagger, one part Springsteen, one part Billy Graham,” the man who’s broken his own record at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and Minneapolis’ Target Stadium for the third time recognized the night was special before he even hit the stage.

“I could hear the cheers when the intro film was running,” Chesney said. “It was so loud, I could barely hear the music – and from the very first second I was out there singing, the audience was electric! It felt like being at the bottom of a mountain, and an avalanche just kept rolling over you. The energy, the heart, the passion had that much force and it didn’t let up – not once all night.”

The crowd took over on the songs-watermarking-life “I Go Back,” then came back with a deafening response to his 27th No. 1 “Wild Child.” They were also loud and proud on the long gone summer love “Anything But Mine” – and brought “American Kids” to a whole other threshold.

“Kansas City took ‘American Kids’ to a whole other place,” Chesney explained. “They made it their own. But they took over a bunch of the songs – and it was awesome. When you’ve played somewhere for several years, and the passion grows, that’s what you’re trying to create. It’s the best part of what we do up here. And man, Kansas City just leveled me. Every show we’ve ever played, all the way back, they hit us.”

There are plenty more stadiums to come: Denver’s Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High Aug. 8, E. Rutherford, NJ’s Met Life Stadium Aug. 15, Detroit’s Ford Field Aug. 22 and a double at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium Aug. 28-29. Those shows will take the only country act on Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years to 135 stadium plays since 2005.

Having taken a year to get ready for The Big Revival 2015 Tour, Chesney hit the road with a real passion – and the fans have absolutely reciprocated in kind.

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