Thursday, April 25, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
There are multiple reasons why Kenny Chesney remains one of the most popular singers in country music and a top touring act in any genre of music year after year (he has amassed more than 20 No. 1 country hits and won consecutive Entertainer of the Year Awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association).
Much of Chesney’s most memorable and relatable music in his 20-year career is about having fun but also thoughtful in painting nostalgic pictures of the past. Whether celebrating “Summertime” or being “Young” or reflecting on years gone by (“Anything But Mine,” “Who You’d Be Today” and “I Go Back”), Chesney and his music have widespread appeal in their Everyman quality.
Chesney has always come across as approachable and immensely likable. Guys want to have beers with him, and ladies want to walk on the beach with him at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chesney is part of country’s Hunk Brigade that also includes, among others, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Billy Currington and, for the teen crowd, Hunter Hayes.
But, most important of all, Chesney is a hard-working, Energizer Bunny showman who loves his fans and wants nothing more than to sing for them and show them a good time. His “No Shoes Nation” Tour brought him to The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel on Friday and Saturday nights in two sold-out concerts, and Chesney remains in tip-top shape musically and physically.
There were no dancers or light shows or pyrotechnics (there was a large LED screen at the back of the stage for fans in the upper recesses of the 4,000-capacity Joint), just a band and the East Tennessee star in his signature blue muscle T (the guns were on full display), tight faded jeans and a low-hanging cowboy hat (the tan Chesney has never looked better) ready to jam and sing for a few hours.
Chesney’s underrated voice was strong and never faltered, and he spent a lot of time on the catwalk jutting out onto the floor and at the end of it, so there was interaction aplenty with fans -- handshakes and high-fives and Cheshire cat grins too many to count.
The 2-hour, 24-song setlist: “Feel Like a Rock Star,” “Reality,” “Beer in Mexico,” “Keg in the Closet,” “Running Away,” “Summertime,” “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” “Somewhere With You,” “I Go Back” and “One More Is Never Enough” (in the video, he frolics without a cowboy hat, a rarity, and with a blonde woman).
Plus, “Living in Fast Forward,” “Young,” “How Forever Feels,” “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” “Big Star,” “Come Over,” “Bobby McGee,” “Never Wanted Nothing More,” “Anything But Mine,” a stripped-down, nearly a cappella “There Goes My Life,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” “Out Last Night” and “Boys of Fall.” Encore: “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
With black Sharpie in hand, Chesney was on the catwalk post-show signing autographs and memorabilia (shirts, caps, posters) for about 15 minutes. Chesney is a showman and a class act.
This was my third time seeing Chesney at The Joint, the first in 2009 when he celebrated the opening (this month is the award-winning music venue’s fourth anniversary). That 2009 show was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended, a 4-hour-plus powerhouse with Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Chesney. This third time, he was solo, and he has simply never been better.
His “No Shoes Nation” Tour takes him after The Joint to Grand Rapids, Mich., today and ends with two dates at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., on Aug. 23-24. Church, Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves are on the road with him, although they skipped Las Vegas. Showman Chesney more than held his own at The Joint; here’s hoping that there will be many more happy returns.
Thanks to contributing photographer Erik Kabik for his photo galleries -- one from last weekend, and one from April 2009!
Don Chareunsy is editor of Vegas DeLuxe and senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Arguably one the coolest joints in town, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino houses some of Vegas' best entertainment, restaurants and nightlife.
At Hard Rock, it's all about the music. From the light fixtures made out of drum cymbals and guitar shaped door handles to stage costumes and tools of the trade of legendary musicians displayed on the walls, the hotel screams rock and roll. The Hard Rock's Joint has hosted some the biggest names in music — from The Who to Bob Dylan to hometown heroes, The Killers.Aside from the music venues, the pool at the Hard Rock is one of its biggest attractions. Spread out over 4.7 acres, the pool area features swim-up blackjack, a bar and grill, private cabanas, a bevy of secluded nooks, a waterfall and an extensive live music venue with a dance floor. During the summer, the pool transforms into the Rehab club on Sunday afternoons.
The resident nightclub Body English fuses European elegance with a rock star bachelor pad and it often a hot spot for visiting celebs and popular DJs. Vintage rock memorabilia lines the walls at Wasted Space, Hard Rock's anti-club.
Restaurants at Hard Rock are just as hip as the rest of the casino. Pink Taco serves up Mexican dishes, as well as a Central American and Caribbean menu. Nobu, one of five worldwide Japanese-specialty restaurants from famed Nobu Matsuhisa, satisfies a different taste. For round-the-clock cuisine, Mr. Lucky's 24/7, is sure to ease your appetite even after a Vegas-all-nighter.