Brothers of the Sun Tour – Tim and Kenny Deliver at Soldier Field
Walking out of Soldier Field on Saturday night I was certain of one thing. I needed a health club membership and maybe even a personal trainer. Music aside, 40-something country music headliners Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney are in shape. Great physical shape. Throw in opening act Jake Owen and the “average” guy anywhere in the Soldier Field zip code had no shot with the girls on Saturday.
Early Acts – Jake Owen & Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Rising star Jake Owen opened the evening promptly at 4:30. I was surprised he was only given a 30 minute time slot. He made the most of it, running through all his hits and playing a rendition of The Beastie Boys “Fight for Your Right” as well. It was a bit of a shame he didn’t get to play in front of a larger crowd. Jake and his pet bulldog Vern certainly would have gained a few more fans.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were up second about 5:30. To me they should have been the logical choice to open up the show. I think Jake Owen was slotted there in order to get fans inside Soldier Field sooner. I’ll admit I took this time to use the restroom, replenish beverages and find friends also in attendance. My update on Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is I have no update. They did do a cover of “Tush” by ZZ Top.
Headliners – Music and Muscles Steal the Show
The 1st headliner Tim McGraw, you know, Faith Hill’s husband, came out at a surprisingly early at 6:35. His being dressed completely in white, including his belt, seemed to have a significant impact on the female fans in attendance. His perfectly shaped capital “V” back from shoulders to waist resembles that of a WWE wrestler. The camera crew took every opportunity to feature his backside whenever possible on the jumbo screens located on each side of the stage. McGraw worked the crowd in a cool and calm manner appearing to not even break a sweat.
Opening with “Felt Good on My Lips” he got the crowd mesmerized with him and it stayed that way much of his 90 minute set. He moves around the stage with ease but at his own pace. Controlling the crowd is a talent of his. He didn’t talk much or try to rile up the fans. During his song “Live Like You Were Dying”, which was written for his father, former Phillies and Mets pitcher Tug McGraw, a family down the row from me was sobbing quite heavily. Obviously the song had a significant meaning or memory of a loved one for them. His encores “I Like It I Love It” and “Truck Yeah” ended his set upbeat and had the crowd rocking.
Headliner #2 Kenny Chesney took the stage about 8:40 attired in a cut off t-shirt with the “gun show” in progress. If he drinks as much as he sings about in his songs this guy must be a beast in the weight room and works it off. By the 2nd song, “Keg in the Closet”, he was drenched in sweat and opposite of McGraw was inviting the crowd to run around with him. He incorporated photo montages into some of his songs, notably “Young” where he features shots of him from an early age through his teens and start up band days. His picture montage for “The Boys of Fall” a song about football did feature a shot of the late Penn State Coach, Joe Paterno. There was no uproar of booing at the photo and it was probably in the montage since the song was released last year before anyone knew of the Sandusky situation at Penn State.
About 9:15 fans got a bonus treat as The Navy Pier Fireworks began. That was a perfect backdrop to an already great show that was going on. Chesney told of moments and events that have inspired his songs. He turns most of his songs into stories. None more than his hit “Out Last Night” that we all can relate to. I’d liken the atmosphere to that of a Jimmy Buffet concert. Slightly different crowd and I don’t think he controls a crowd like Buffet but you are forced to have fun to the fullest. He sings of the good times we’ve had and the fun times that lie ahead for us. No speed bumps in his show. Like the title of his song “Living in Fast Forward” that is exactly what you get at a Kenny Chesney show. He may have confused some of his younger fans by covering The Kinks “You Really Got Me” and The Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” towards the end of the set.
The show ended with McGraw and Chesney teaming up on three encores and Jake Owen joining them to close the night with a cover of “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. That song was appropriate because both artists gave it all they had Saturday night. Both Tim and Kenny are at the top of their careers and should be back in town in the near future. For me, I’m in the weight room until they get back.
Post and Photo by John Plewa