Country superstar presents free concert on Wildwood beach
WILDWOOD, NJ — Kenny Chesney has long been the heir apparent to Jimmy Buffett with his love of sitting on the sand in his “Old Blue Chair,” and singing about love and waves and hot summer nights.
Wednesday night he threw a party on the beach in Wildwood with the help of American Express, which gave out 20,000 free tickets.
With his new album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, released the day before, Chesney shouted out to the crowd, “This is the best event I’ve ever had to launch a new album.”
The show, which was live streamed on YouTube/VEVO, is part of the American Express live concert series, “American Express Unstaged.” The company has staged shows with superstar directors such as John Legend & The Roots directed by Spike Lee, Jack White directed by Gary Oldman and last night, Chesney, directed by Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), whose music directing credits include the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense and numerous videos for Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.
The Demme-Chesney pairing was inspired and the high definition live broadcast was stunning. The show was beautify put together by Demme, whose use of camera angles made the lights of the surrounding amusement piers look like part of the stage lighting. He framed Chesney with ultra close-ups featuring a rollercoaster in the background or the Ferris wheel, where one imagined the fans were straining to try and hear the music in the distance.
The city of North Wildwood cleverly declared its strip of bars “Kenny Chesney Headquarters” for the night and many fans who didn’t have tickets enjoyed the concert in air-conditioned comfort, watching the live feed on a jumbo screen.
Ah, yes, the music. Starting just a couple of minutes past the official start time, at 8:34pm, Chesney opened his set for fans, some of whom had waited to enter the beach venue since 8am that morning, with “Beer In Mexico.” He kept the party vibe going with “Summertime,” “Feel Like a Rock Star” (his duet with Tim McGraw from the new album) and the audience favorite “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.” As with many of his songs, Chesney encouraged a sing-along and often stopped his vocals to enjoy his 20,000 strong choir.
He threw in a song he hadn’t sung in concert for a while since it fit the venue, “Guitars and Tiki Bars.” Recalling his days with just a “guitar and me playing in a bar,” he sang his beautiful ballad from Fishbowl (recorded with Grace Potter) “You and Tequila.”
Another song that he couldn’t resist doing because of the perfect venue was “On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful,” based, he told the audience, on a week-long romance he thought would be something more at the time.
The best things in life are free, or so says a certain lyric from yesteryear. There aren’t many free things that anybody would want these days. But here’s one, a free concert on the Wildwood beach by country superstar Kenny Chesney.
The Wrecking Crüe
Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall