Review: Chesney welcomes summer with 2-hour, high-energy show

| Sunday, June 23, 2013, 11:03 a.m.

The summer season may have just arrived, but when you're listening to Kenny Chesney sing about sun, sand and good times, it feels like it never left.

The 45-year-old country icon brought a lot of Southern cheer and island-esque breeziness to Heinz Field on Saturday night. Clad in his signature cowboy hat, boots and tightly fitted blue jeans, Chesney skipped, ran, sashayed, clapped and jumped for two hours straight with such a contagious energy that fans could not help but leave their seats and join in the fun.

The set began with “Feel Like A Rock Star,“ which invited fans to part with the stresses from the week and relax, singing “you busted your (butt) all week, and now it's your time to be whatever you wanna be.”

Tropically inspired songs “Reality,“ “Beer in Mexico,“ and “Pirate Flag“ followed, further setting the tone for an evening of escape and light-heartedness.

While the beginning songs opened to an already screaming audience, the excitement really kicked in with country pop hit “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem,“ which had fans reaching to the sky, stomping and belting at the top of their lungs. A few shirtless men even pointed to their bare chests and stomachs and almost convulsed in laughter at their pre-meditated fashion statement. Whether or not one too many beers played into that amusement is another matter.

Like his energy, there was no shortage of appreciation or generosity, as Chesney reminded fans that this was his seventh visit to Heinz Field, and even tipped his hat to the boaters who began docking on Friday morning. In two different instances, Chesney called one woman and one young girl up to the stage to present them with a signed Steelers helmet and guitar, respectively.

The middle of the set plateaued a bit, as some of the songs tended to sound like the one previous to it, but that's not to say that Chesney was out of surprises.

Fans shared in singing “Happy Birthday“ to Chesney's bus driver of 18 years, Bobby Lowe, and were re-greeted by show opener Eric Church, to accompany Chesney in his single “When I See This Bar“ off of the new album “Life on a Rock.”

The night first came to life with Church, who opened to smoke and piercing red lights with “Creepin'.“ He really got the crowd going during “Drink In My Hand“ when he took two fan-offered drinks and poured them down his front, smiling all the while. He even let viewers catch a glimpse of his more sensitive side with “She Loves Me Like Jesus,“ and had most everyone tripping on nostalgia with set closer “Springsteen.”

Eli Young Band performed before Church, and stuck strongly to their country crooning guns. Some fans were not as receptive to the Lynyrd Skynyrd cover “Three Steps,“ but were more than ready to sway to “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,“ and many were singing along by the time band hit “Crazy Girl“ closed their set.

Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves opened the show with “Trailer Song“ and contributed to the evening's relaxed theme with a cover of Weezer's “Island in the Sun.“ The singer-songwriter showcased her many musical talents when she picked up a banjo for her hit single “Merry Go ‘Round,“ and rocked the harmonica in “My House.”

Kenny Chesney left some fans with no shirts, even fewer others with no shoes (I know, gross), but overall, with no disappointment.

Emma Deihle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7834 or

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