Concert Review: Kenny Chesney Show at Charlotte NC Stadium
At 9:55 p.m. Saturday, the temperature dipped below 70, a light breeze rustled the flags above the north and south edges of Bank of America Stadium, and – although it was by no means cold – I imagined those who had dressed for a pleasant spring evening as opposed to a warm summer night were probably not sorry.
Meanwhile, onstage, Kenny Chesney looked like he roasted for an hour in an oven set to 425 degrees.
Sweat had dampened the 54-year-old country star’s blue Love For Love City tank top since he first sang “Let the Hot Air Melt Those Blues” in the first “Beer in Mexico” set; by the time he tweeted his famous line “Everything gets hotter when the sun goes down,” 13 songs later, his shirt was soaked in sweat enough to fill an empty bottle of his Blue Chair Bay Rum.
In other words, for No Shoes Nation fans who have watched him soak his shirts at shows for decades, no matter the weather, it felt like the good old days.
And it wasn’t just the sweat. Saturday night’s concert had all the hallmarks of a typical Kenny Chesney show – from various video montages of beautiful people practicing hedonism in tropical paradises to impromptu booze-fueled onstage birthday celebrations until the moment he give a deserving fan a gift they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Oh, not to mention the two-hour-plus parade of hits he performs while hopping, jumping, and jumping around the stage (hence the sweat).
But this particular show been more remarkable than usual, in more ways than one.
In part, it’s just because it’s been a long time. After a string of six Charlotte gigs in the 2010s that made fans accustomed to being able to catch him here virtually every year, this was his first visit since 2018. It was also, as he repeatedly pointed out , his first time at the home of the Carolina Panthers in a decade.
“Ten years“, he said, sounding incredulous, first during a pre-recorded segment at the top of the show which saw him wearing a Panthers helmet as he stood on the upper deck of the stadium. , and again during a break in “Til’ It’s Gone”, his third song of the night.
May I remind you that before the Rolling Stones concert last September, nobody had played at Bank of America Stadium in almost 10 years.
That’s what made the Saturday night show so remarkable for the NFL Panthers, the team’s parent company, Tepper Sports & Entertainment, and its owner, David Tepper: more than two and a half years after the promise they made to dive headfirst back into live music. business was halted by the pandemic, they just pulled off two massive gigs in just eight days. (Billy Joel played at the stadium on Saturday night.)
Perhaps even more amazingly, it must be said that the Panthers organization took on the mountain of work involved in setting up the show, staging the show, and taking the show down while participating in the marathon pressure cooker known as the NFL Draft. .
To top it all off, while Chesney played hits like “Summertime” and “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem,” local staff were also busy watching Tepper’s other professional team – the expansion club of the Major League Soccer Charlotte FC, which was playing a game in Orlando, Florida,
It was a tribute-worthy effort that marked the most Instagrammable moment of the night.
After briefly disappearing offstage at the end of the show after a rousing performance of the upbeat 90s hit “How Forever Feels,” Chesney returned to say, “I gotta tell ya, I almost forgot. … I wasn’t going to do that song. That’s why we almost left the stage. But…the Carolina Panthers organization as a whole has treated us so unbelievably. It was amazing. And I want to thank these guys for inviting us tonight.
“I wasn’t going to do this,” he repeated, “but thanks to them, we will.”
Then he launched his sentimental ode to high school football, “The Boys of Fall,” which in itself was a setup for when he summoned a group of Panthers to the stage. It came as no shock that Christian McCaffrey was one of them, as Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers had teased during the duo’s first set that the star running back was present; but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to see Tepper and coach Matt Rhule with a bit of wonder on their faces as they watched the roar of a slightly different type of crowd than normal.
As the band continued to work their way through an instrumental version of “The Boys of Fall”, Chesney produced a Panthers helmet which everyone took turns signing and posing for a photo with the band. Then he and McCaffrey walked out onto the podium with the headphones on and only had to scan the pit for a few seconds before settling on a young boy they invited onto the stage.
The loudest ovation of the whole gig came when the two stars slipped the headphones over the boy’s head, with the nearly 50,000 fans in attendance both delighted and jealous of the child.
A close second, in terms of decibel level? That would be about halfway there, because, well, everyone who loves Kenny loves to party.
After Chesney stopped mid-‘When the Sun Goes Down’ to note bassist Harmoni Kelley’s birthday, fans went wild as she obeyed his order to gulp down a margarita from an obnoxiously tall glass – like a slow cooker – while he led the sing “Happy Birthday”; they got even crazier because Chesney pulled out a shooting board, inspired by a water ski, on which were four mini tequila glasses which he, Kelley and two other band members pushed back as a group.
Chesney sandwiched that between a performance of “Save It for a Rainy Day” with opener Matthew Ramsey and Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi (who co-wrote the 2015 hit for Chesney) and a duet of “You and Tequila” with yet another opener, Carly Pearce (an idea Chesney said was inspired by his mother, who he says was in the audience and told her son before the show that she wanted to meet her).
Seven songs later, Chesney once again co-starred with Harmoni Kelley when she ably performed the role Pink made famous in their 2016 duet “Setting the World on Fire.”
But the star of the show was most in his element – and the musical part of the show was most exuberant – when he was alone on the podium, singing and sashaying and jabbing through the air and punching his chest and blowing kisses.
Graciously collect fan memorabilia in the form of license plates, flags and trucker hats.
Effortlessly dodge major hiccups, like the glaring audio glitches that plagued parts of Dan + Shay’s set, and minor ones, like the female fan who made her way onto stage singing “Noise” only to be foiled by security.
Forcing the cynics among us to wonder if he’s right claim playing guitar (sorry, couldn’t help it, guys), but at the same time leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s having fun up there.
He’s done it for his entire touring life, smiling so widely and so often during live shows that you can’t imagine how his face doesn’t hurt for days afterwards.
And as he has done at each of his other four concerts I’ve attended here, he capped off Saturday night’s show with a session of high-fives, autographs and goodbyes that lasted so long that ‘by the time he finished, probably more than two-thirds of the crowd were already on their way home.
So I’ll end by saying this: with all the talk of the “new normal” these days, it was really special – and it was a lot of fun – to see Chesney sweating so much while bringing the old normal return to Charlotte.
Kenny Chesney’s setlist
1. “Beer in Mexico”
3. “Until He’s Gone”
4. “Here and Now”
6. “We Do”
7. “Pirate Flag”
8. “No shoes, no shirt, no problems”
9. “Somewhere With You”
10. “I’m Coming Back”
11. “Getting Along”
12. “Everything But Mine”
13. “Save It For A Rainy Day” (with Old Dominion)
14. “When the Sun Goes Down”
15. “You and Tequila” (with Carly Pearce)
16. “All the Pretty Girls”
17. “Living in fast forward”
20. “American Children”
21. “Ignite the World”
22. “Everything Will Be Alright”
23. “How Always Feels”
24. “Autumn Boys”
25. “Don’t Happen Twice”
26. “She thinks my tractor is sexy”
This story was originally published May 1, 2022 12:45 p.m.