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Chesney turns Cowboys Stadium into an island paradise

Posted 12:43pm on Sunday, May. 12, 2013

-- Kenny Chesney and his No Shoes Nation commandeered Cowboys Stadium and grounds with a Pirate Flag on Saturday, the first bona fide suntan-and-suds concert event of the 2013 season.

There were a few people there. Like, the entire population of my hometown.

The stadium holds about 80,000 people for a game, and there weren’t many empty seats by the time Chesney came on after 9 p.m.

“I know some of you have been here since 9 a.m. (tailgating), and I love you for that,” Chesney shouted from the stage.

It was one of Chesney’s most island-themed shows yet, due to the set list that was heavy on material from his new album, Life on a Rock.

There was Beer in Mexico, You & Tequila, and Summertime.

A few Chesney favorites made it into the mix, including Young, I Go Back and Reality.

The mantra of the night was, as always, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem.

Chesney’s style of island escapism is, and always has been, less parrothead and more beach volleyball, with the tan and hard-bodied Tennessean, now 45, prowling the stage and slapping hands.

He recalled how hed first appeared in the metroplex years ago, singing on a flatbed truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

At Cowboys Stadium, he was across the street from a Wal-Mart parking lot, but what a difference.

“Last night, I sat here staring at this place for two hours,” he said. “It’s a honor to play here.”

Eric Church opened for Chesney. More of a whiskey and grit kind of guy, Church has found a strong audience in country music as a hardline traditionalist.

There is Pledge Allegiance to the Hag, a contrast to the redemptive quality of She Loves Me Like Jesus.

Church is an admirable instrumentalist, beginning his set with a banjo, switching to acoustic guitar and finishing on keyboards.

“Melodies and memories connect with each other,” he said before launching into Springsteen. “It’s all about right now, who you’re with, and what you’re listening to.”

His take on Hank Williams Jr.s A Country Boy Can Survive was as visceral as the original.

Denton’s own Eli Young Band was earlier on the bill, fresh off their breakthrough hit Crazy Girl earlier this year.

Though that infectious singalong song can stay with you for days, their other work, Say Goodnight, When It Rains and Even If It Breaks Your Heart says more about their versatility as a band.

They included a new song, Drunk Last Night, which set an imbibing theme for the rest of the evening.

Mineola’s own Kacey Musgraves opened the show at 5 p.m., while tailgaters sauntered into the stadium and newcomers arrived from the parking lots.

Musgraves’ new album Same Trailer, Different Park is a strong collection, named for its free-spirited The Trailer Song and My House. Its situational songs speak to the disenfranchised; both those down and out and those who are happy despite it.

She sings with a clear, unaffected voice that points up the lyrics of Merry Go Round and Follow Your Arrow.

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