Kenny Chesney was crowned New York and New Jersey’s king of country on Saturday night, performing the biggest ticketed country show in New York/New Jersey history, topping the area’s previous record holder, Willie Nelson’s 1983 festival with Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Linda Ronstadt. The event was hailed as “landmark” and “electric” by Rolling Stone, “energetic and commanding” by Billboard, and “a rollicking sales success” by the Newark Star-Ledger.
Fans were treated to a musical tour de force by Chesney, who Billboard said “was visibly enjoying each moment.” The superstar captivated the audience with stand-out versions of hits like “Beer in Mexico,” current single “You and Tequila,” and “There Goes My Life,” which Chesney sang “backed only by piano, practically silencing the tens-of-thousands-strong crowd” (New York Times).
During the free-for-all encore, Chesney dished out an an electrifying dose of covers – including Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” – that whipped fans into one final frenzy with help from Zac Brown Band. New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan set off a thunderous explosion of cheers as they joined Chesney onstage in the night’s final moments.
The show, which the Newark Star-Ledger professed “was the culmination of decades of hard work” by Chesney, was one of a dozen stadium dates on the 2011 Corona Presents Kenny Chesney’s ‘Goin’ Coastal Tour,’ the #1 grossing country tour of 2011 according to Pollstar. Proving his ability to wow an intimate Vermont crowd just as easily as he did a packed NYC-area stadium, Chesney made a surprise appearance the following day during Grace Potter & The Nocturnals’ closing set at the Grand Point North Festival in Burlington, VT, performing their duet “You and Tequila.”