Kenny Chesney is a man of his word. When he said he was going to bring some surprises to his I Go Back Tour, he meant it.
The trek officially kicked off on Thursday evening (March 23) at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia with a two-hour show that included a nearly 30-song set. With several surprise songs sprinkled throughout, Chesney gave new life to his well-oiled live show, making the I Go Back Tour live up to its namesake in more ways than one.
At 8:55, the lights dimmed and anticipation filled the air as classic rock songs blasted through the speakers. When Chesney greeted the sold-out crowd and opened the show with “Til It’s Gone,” it was clear it was going to be a special night.
Moments into the show, the superstar asked, “Charlottesville, are you ready?”
Chesney hasn’t played at the John Paul Jones Arena since 2006, so they were more than ready.
Without missing a beat, Chesney launched into “Beer In Mexico,” brought the spirit of No Shoes Nation to the stage with “We Do” and “Here And Now,” and evoked a full-on sing-along with “Summertime.”
Covering every inch of the stage with the kind of energy only he can deliver, Chesney continued to crank out hit after hit.
Revisiting his 2002 chart-topper “The Good Stuff” proved to be a good decision. With his guitar in hand, Chesney took the audience on a trip down memory lane with the story song that spent seven weeks at No.1. Cell phones lit up the arena as 13,000+ fans sang in unison.
“That’s so beautiful, thank you,” Chesney graciously shared from the stage as he looked out at the sea of lights.
Turning the energy all the way back up with performances of songs like “Big Star,” “All The Pretty Girls,” “Living In Fast Forward,” and “Young,” Chesney raced around the stage giving high fives and fist bumps to those lucky enough to score tickets next to the stage.
A little more than halfway through the show, he slowed things down a bit with “Wild Child.” The song originally features Grace Potter, but this time, his fringe-wearing tourmate, Kelsea Ballerini, joined him on harmonies.
After reflecting on their friendship and how they came to record their chart-topping, CMA-winning collaboration, “half of my hometown,” the pair walked hand-in-hand to the front of the catwalk and asked fans to sing along as they reminisced on their East Tennesee roots together through song.
This can’t-miss moment will be a highlight of each and every night on The I Go Back Tour.
Simply put, the final portion of the show was euphoric. Chesney held nothing back as he powered through “American Kids,” joined bass player Harmoni Kelley for a rendition of “Setting The World On Fire,” and reminded fans “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” through a solo version of his hit with David Lee Murphy.
Trading his typical show-closer, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” for the beloved ‘Don’t Happen Twice” with a little “Beer Can Chicken” thrown in, Chesney closed out night one of the I Go Back Tour on a high note.
While the setlist surprises had everyone talking, the I Go Back Tour is about more than just the songs Chesney hasn’t played in a while. It highlights the unique connection he has with his fans in an intimate setting.
“I wanted to bring all the power and all of the passion that we have at those stadium shows,” Chesney said after the show. “I want every single person who’s in the room to know how much we love them, to feel as good as they’ve ever felt and to go home hoarse from the cheering and singing. Charlottesville, Virginia sure made the opening night feel like the biggest stadiums.”
Whether he’s playing arenas, amphitheaters, or stadiums, Kenny Chesney has set the bar as an entertainer for years and continues to do so on the I Go Back Tour.
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