There is nothing quite like the (nearly) perennial Kenny Chesney summer tour. It's always a well-conceived, highly profitable affair, a string of stadium dates that pack in more than 50,000. (Easygoing corporate underwriting also helps; it's hard not to note the synergy between Chesney's longtime tour sponsor Corona and "Beer in Mexico," his giddy crowd-sing-along staple.) Too, the summertime jaunt is arguably the industry's best booster for rising country-music talent. On Saturday, sold-out Lincoln Financial Field once again warmly greeted Chesney & Co. for another marathon show - including hot property Billy Currington - topped by a 2½-hour performance from the Tennessee-born pop-country superstar.
Chesney last played the Linc in 2009, headlining a bill that included Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, and Sugarland, all of whom have since achieved first-tier country-star status. When he took last year off to recharge and focus on his 14th studio album (September's Hemingway's Whiskey), he offered his Summer in 3D concert movie instead (which includes footage from that '09 Philly date).
Chesney's current "Goin' Coastal" tour must be particularly welcome in National Football League venues where the current labor impass between players and owners could wipe out this year's season. Interestingly, the Linc show offered numerous NFL tie-ins. Georgia's co-headlining Zac Brown Band - mostly delivering midtempo country-rock ballads, with a dash of peppy reggae and a considerable flash of Allman Brothers boogie - were paced by drummer Chris Fryar in a Philadelphia Eagles jersey (58, Trent Cole). ZBB's multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook worked up to full-blown Dickey Betts-ish leads on his Les Paul in a gray T with the classic league logo. But most notably, Eagles coach Andy Reid himself later came out onstage to give Chesney an Eagles helmet. Donning the gift, Chesney then sang his ode to football, "The Boys of Fall," also the title of the singer's feature-length documentary on the sport aired last year on ESPN.