Here and Now 2022 sets new Chesney record
From the moment Kenny Chesney hit the stage at Chicago’s Soldier Field on his Here and Now Tour 2022, the energy was high – and kept building. Coming off a sold out well in advance show at Cincinnati’s historic Riverbend Music Center amphitheater, the 8x Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year was in the zone and in the moment.
The drizzle that fell through a few songs early in the set couldn’t dampen the spirits of the 52,792 people who packed Chicago’s NFL stadium, which marks a new personal record on the trek. Last month, the country superstar set a Nissan Stadium record as he performed to 57,211 fans in Nashville.
With a passion for the music and an energy that saw the crowd throwing their arms from side-to-side in time to “Summertime,” “We Do” and “‘Til It’s Gone,” it was a love fest that gained momentum throughout the night.
“It was almost like that little bit of rain cooled everybody off enough that they could go even harder,” Chesney says. “Nobody missed a beat. The band played on. But most importantly, Chicago brought a serious intensity to every single song.”
Indeed. By the time the set hit its harder rocking last quarter, they were singing so loud, they almost drowned out the band onstage with the raucous reality check “Noise.” They then drove the choruses of “American Kids” to the point Chesney had the band drop out – and let the No Shoes Nation’s collective voice take the song about free-spirited youth coloring outside the lines into the sky. As if it couldn’t get any louder or more impassioned, the sold-out audience – still consumed by the music – took over “Setting the World On Fire,” delivering the verses and P!NK’s “setting the world on fire” in the choruses like they owned the song.
“2018 here was unbelievable,” Chesney explained after the show. “Some nights you think you just can’t top… you don’t even think about trying. But from the moment we hit the stage, I knew we were in for something else altogether. It’s been like this all summer, but Chicago tore these songs open and gave us their heart.”
With a band that can move from bluegrass inflections to pummeling grooves, Tom Petty-esque rock to feel good country, this year’s tour almost transcends the music. Whether it’s solo takes on David Lee Murphy’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and Uncle Kracker’s “When the Sun The Sun Goes Down” duets that are as joyous as they are life affirming, the escapist invitation “Reality” or the erotically-charged “Somewhere With You,” the crowd was on their feet and churning to the rhythms as one. Even the ballads – “There Goes My Life” and “Anything But Mine” – found both the Sand Bar and highest rows at the top of the stadium swaying with a connection that made the audience one.
“These songs have become people’s lives and their memories, and when they sing, you can tell it means something to them,” Chesney marvels. “You can feel it, and it makes you want to give even more – because they’re bringing their life to this music, too. There are no words to describe it, beyond saying it’s absolutely the greatest feeling in the world.”
Here And Now 2022 heads to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium for 4th of July weekend on July 2nd. Presented by Blue Chair Bay and fueled by Marathon, it’s already been a long hot summer – and there’s still a whole lot of music and tour dates to come.