Kenny Chesney's "Live in No Shoes Nation" accurately recreates an experience of seeing the diminutive party animal live. Chesney has found an extremely lucrative niche as country music's Jimmy Buffett (although much of Buffett's island-y pop music appeals to many of today's non-discerning country music listeners). Also, with songs like "Pirate Flag," Chesney has even borrowed a few of Buffett's sea-related lyrical themes.
This live CD could have been recorded at most any Chesney stadium date, and it's drawn from a full 10 years of such shows. But it's differentiated by a version of "Boston," which is dedicated to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The audience sing-along on the song's chorus is truly moving. "New England is the only place we will ever do that song," Chesney tells this crowd, before finishing the tune. It's also separated from 'just another Chesney show' by the stars that turned out to celebrate with him on these various dates. Taylor Swift sings "Big Star," which could have easily been written about that crossover pop star's meteoric rise to the top. Similarly, Chesney signals Eric Church's star will continue to rise by predicting he will one day headline the same football stadium where this performance was tracked.
Zac Brown gets reggae-spiritual with Chesney on "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven." Old Dominion share the stage on a song they helped write, "Save It for a Rainy Day," and Grace Potter revives her duet role for "Tequila and You." A singing of the annoying "The Joker" isn't made better by Chesney's cover. The song segues into Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," where Chesney is joined by Dave Matthews for a sort of reggae medley.
The album is 30 songs long, which is a whole lot of live music. And it's not all-star power alone, but also includes live takes on a few of Chesney's best recordings. One of these is "I Go Back," which is preceded by a smart Chesney introduction about the mysterious way music elicits fond memories. "The Boys of Fall" is just as representative of Chesney's life, as it celebrates football - one of Chesney's biggest passions. It's one of the better songs about sports, and football in particular. He sounds sincerely thrilled to be singing at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.
Chesney is not an overly complicated guy. He leans toward the simpler pleasures of life, which is why his attempt at making a big statement fails with "Noise." A better indicating noise, the roar of these various audiences, though, proves he consistently connects with his fans. His loyal ones will dig this album, no doubt. It's also a much more energetic overview of his career for newbies, than any contractual obligatory greatest hits album.