fb-pixel Skip to main content
Music review

From Chesney, a positive night of feel-good country

Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — “Everything’s gonna be all right” is rightly one of pop music’s most enduring cross-genre ideals, its plainly stated hope helping turn songs into anthems. On Friday night at Foxborough, the island-life-chronicling singer Kenny Chesney — playing Gillette Stadium for the 18th (and, on Sautrday, 19th) time — embraced that lyric, and its power of positivity, both explicitly and implicitly during the energetic opening show of his two-concert run.

The former came near the end of the night, when Chesney brought out Nashville stalwart David Lee Murphy. Chesney introduced Murphy — the co-writer of songs heard earlier in the set like the bluesy “Pirate Flag” — as “one of the best singer-songwriter-artists on the planet” before they launched into a three-song set that began with their 2017 duet “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” They charmingly traded off on vocal lines in classic country-duo fashion, adding extra honky-tonk verve to the piano-tinged “Party Crowd.”

Advertisement



The implicit references made up the bulk of Chesney’s set, which was packed with sun-dappled, feel-good anthems that twinned storytelling with escapist visions, rendered on the video screens in brilliant blue and unbothered-sand white. Chesney’s latest album, this year’s “Songs of the Saints,” takes that optimism and focuses it on the Virgin Islands, which felt the wrath of not one but two hurricanes during 2017’s storm season. It’s a quieter album that showcases Chesney’s warm baritone, and only one song from it — the plea for understanding “Get Along,” which he described as being “about turning negative energy into positive energy” — made it onto Friday night’s setlist. But its spirit of resilience seemed to give Chesney even more vitality than usual as he bounded around the stage, picking up offerings from fans and playing up the theatricality of his songs while his backing band muscled through his catalog, adding country twang to “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” via a fiddle and giving “Somewhere with You” a dark, brooding edge.

Of course, Chesney could have been in a good mood because he was at Gillette Stadium, a venue that he’s been playing since 2005 and using as the site for his tours’ last hurrahs since 2011. “The love affair, if you will — that’s how I like to describe it,” he specified. This weekend, he’s marking his millionth Gillette ticket sold, and he peppered his setlist with shout-outs to New England — the expat snapshot “Boston” was capped with an a cappella crowd singalong, and while he crooned his mash note to football “Boys of Fall” Tom Brady and other Patriots popped up on the stadium’s video screens.

Advertisement



“I know I sound like a broken record,” he said earlier in the night, “but we have been looking so forward to these shows all summer.” Judging by the rapturous cheers and full-throated singalongs, the feeling was obviously shared by both sides of the stage — a sign that optimistic attitudes can write their own happy endings.

Music review

Kenny Chesney

With Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne and Brandon Lay

At Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Friday (also Saturday)


Maura Johnston can be reached at maura@maura.com.