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Kenny Chesney puts on good show with not much new

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass., July 23, 2005

Reviewed by Maxine McPherson

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Kenny Chesney set new records for country music concerts in New England, bringing together over 50,000 fans at Gillette Stadium. However, there was very little new in the music.

There is no doubt that Chesney, who beat Toby Keith's record of 41,000 people at the same venue, puts on a good show. Packed into four hours, were six top-rated acts - not counting the pre-concert parties in the parking lot that included newcomer, Bobby Pinson ("Don't Ask Me How I Know"). Blaine Larson ("How Do You Get That Lonely") opened the show with a short set, followed by Uncle Kracker (who returned later in the show to sing several songs with Chesney, including their hit "When the Sun Goes Down") and Texas music superstar Pat Green.

Gretchen Wilson got the huge crowd up and moving with her "Redneck Woman" and "Here for the Party."

Wilson had them on their feet, but Keith Urban's appearance had them up and screaming. Urban's set included a mix of songs from his last two CDs, "Golden Road" and "Be Here," as well as a lengthy version of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin." Urban was at his best, with heavy guitar licks and grinding rhythms. At one point, he just stopped and smiling, looked up and around the stadium, clearly awed by the numbers and enthusiasm of the crowd.

The Chesney set started with the headliner talking about his love for the islands as pictures floated by on the side screens. The background music, "Sherry's Living in Paradise," gave some hope that there would be some of the new music from his latest CD. This was reinforced mid-way through the show when the famous old blue chair arrived on stage, and Chesney sat down and began strumming an acoustic guitar.

"Thanks for let us come here today," he began. "I'm just gonna sit here and sing for you if that's ok?" He then began "Old Blue Chair" for the screaming fans.

However, when the song ended, the chair was whisked away, and we heard no more new music. Chesney sang all his greatest hits; including almost all of the songs from "When the Sun Goes Down" and his encore was the predictable, "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy."

During interviews, Chesney has said he believes that his fans want to hear him play the songs they know - and so he routinely sticks to his hits.

But after seeing him seven times in the last five years around New England, the party is definitely getting stale. Even a newcomer like Wilson was willing to try out several new songs from her next CD due this fall. Chesney's "Be As You Are" has gone platinum with little radio play and no videos on CMT.

The songs are some of his best; he wrote or co-wrote all of them and sings with heart. His fan base is solid and not about to leave him because he plays a few new songs. You would think, at the least, he would have listened to the crowd that yelled out "Boston" while he was in the blue chair!