FOXBOROUGH — If there is one thing that Kenny Chesney’s performance Friday night made clear, it is that he has a special connection to Boston, and in particular to Gillette Stadium. It’s a connection that has been forged through many visits; as he announced early on in his show (the first of two he did this weekend as the New England Country Music Festival headliner) it was the 10th time he has played there, more than any other stadium.
That connection was something he kept coming back to. He noted that “no shoes nation,” the epithet that his fans now go by (and the name of his current tour), originated at Gillette. He prefaced his performance of “Boston” — a song, he pointed out, that he only plays when he’s in Boston — with an understated but genuine tribute to the victims of the Marathon bombings (and then swapped out his trademark cowboy hat for a Boston Strong ball cap that remained in place for the rest of show). On three occasions he even paused mid-song, abandoning his lyrical train to remark on the connection and to marvel at the crowd.