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Kenny Chesney needs something different

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass., July 2005

By Marilyn McPherson

FOXBORO, MA - Kenny Chesney's "Guitars and Tiki Bars" tour may have a new set and lots of flash, but it's still the same music as last year's tour.

Starting with a huge curtain covering the stage, the music begins, and the band shows as eerie gray shadows. The familiar strains of "Young" start and continue for what seems like several minutes before the disembodied voice starts singing the words. Just as he hits the line, "struck matches just to watch them burn," the curtain comes down dramatically and there's Chesney in the bright lights.

Last year, he appeared up from the floor behind a screen that falls down as he sings. This year, he took the opposite route, seeming to float down from the ceiling on a small suspended platform.

By the time he sets foot on the stage, the crowds, with lots of young women in front, are in a frenzy. The new stage design includes risers across the main stage that resembles the bleachers in a high school football field. He has also added two small tower stages on both sides, giving him the opportunity to run from one end of the stage to the other and stand well above the crowd, sit on the edge of the platform or just clown around with the audience.

Chesney, as usual, has a high energy show. Rarely stopping to talk, he swings from song to song and marches, run and dances up and down the stage with his band, stopping only to ask the audience if they are having fun.

The disappointment was in how little of the new music he played. He did only three songs from his latest album, "When the Sun Goes Down" - the title song, the hit "There Goes My Life" and his next single, "I Go Back."

He stuck with the hits from the "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" album - the album theme song, "Young," "Big Star," "The Good Stuff" and "Live Those Songs."

The remainder of the concert was a medley of other hit songs - his "Greatest Hits" album revisited: "Don't Happen Twice," "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," "Me and You" and "Back Where I Come From," among others.

The only "new material" seemed to be the Jimmy Buffet song "Cheeseburger in Paradise". He even reprised last year's closing number with John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" with Keith Urban and opener Dirks Bentley.

Urban has changed dramatically in the last few years. He now appears surer of himself and his music as he strides out on stage and plays most of the songs from his "Golden Road" album with some hits from his first album, including closing with the rocking "Where the Blacktop Ends."

He seems more connected to the audience and the music. For Urban, it's about the music, the guitar playing, the words and the fun. The audience was on its feet for almost the entire set, and as he and the band took a final bow, they looked like they wanted to return to their instruments and keep going, but it just wasn't their show and left most of the crowd wanting more. It's definitely time for Urban to leave the Chesney tour and headline on his own.

For Chesney, its time to take some risks, play some new music - the fans seem to love him no matter what he plays. For those that like the music as well, it maybe time to leave the islands and try something new.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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