Billboard released their list of the Top Live Acts of the past quarter century (1990-2014), and only one country artist made the Top 10: Kenny Chesney. Topped by the Rolling Stones, U2 and Bruce Springsteen, the songwriter from Luttrell, Tennessee arrived at #9 on the list – in spite of taking 2010 and 2014 off the road – with 12,681,629 tickets sold.
“You look at a list like this… with so many iconic rock acts, people like Madonna, or Elton John, and you think, ‘Man…’.” says the 4-time Country Music Association and 4 consecutive Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year. “When you get on the bus for the first time, you’re just hoping people will come. You never expect to be in this kind of company, unless you’re buying a ticket.”
Lots of people bought tickets for Chesney’s high energy shows. Since becoming a full-fledged headliner in 2002, playing a homecoming show at Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium, then into NFL Stadiums in decidedly uncountry Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC in 2005, his tours have become rites of summer for over a million people each tour and a breaking ground for many of today’s biggest headliners.
“Knowing people work hard, have stress whether its their family or their job or their friends, you strive to create a place where they can forget all that for a few hours,” Chesney offers, “They’ll come out, and they come back with their friends. Just like when you sing songs that speak to how they really live, they listen. They listen and they hang onto those songs like it’s their life – because it is.”
Though taking 2014 off to focus on the follow-up to 2013’s deeply personal Life On A Rock, Chesney is anxious to get back out there. As he says, “The fans feed me as much as I feed them… And that’s why I wanted to step back, really think about this record and give them something as hardcore as they are! These songs are gonna rock live; but more importantly, they say a whole lot about how the fans live. I can’t wait to play’em onstage.”