A Friendly Affair

By Rob Greenwell

When I heard that Kenny Chesney was playing Rupp Arena with only Sara Evans and Carolyn Dawn Johnson as support acts, I was immediately skeptical that this was a smart move on Kenny's part. The enormous Rupp Arena in Lexington is a mammoth structure that holds in excess of 23,000 people; it's the home of the famous Kentucky Wildcat basketball. Does Kenny think that he is as big as the Kentucky Wildcats? The short answer is no. This show was a mistake to put in such a huge place; the three acts are not big enough yet. They set the arena up in a way that it almost played like a theater, so it was a "sell-out" in theory, but only a sell-out at 9,000+ seats.

The show started with the dimming of lights, then the thunderous roar of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," which immediately got the crowd rocking. Then there was a swipe from part of Tim McGraw's show: the sound of a radio changing stations, playing hit songs from many genres of music. To keep the party rolling, Chesney and the band opened the show with his rocker of a new single, "Young."

They were ready to get this crowd partying, and were batting a thousand when the sound started to go south. I could never put my foot on the problem, but the show was not as loud as it should have been. I have seen shows at Rupp, and the decibel level was nowhere near as high as at normal shows. I honestly think this hurt Chesney, as the crowd didn't know to react. They wanted to go nuts, but they were waiting for the host to "show them the way." Not to worry though, Chesney had two aces up his sleeve, and one of them he didn't know he had.

When Chesney got to the part of the show that featured "Back Where I Come From," the song that he wrote about his hometown, he started the song and as he got to the middle of the song, he said to the crowd, "Please welcome my friend, Mr. Tim Couch." Needless to say, the crowd absolutely lost their minds, and with all due respect to the star, the reaction for Couch was a lot bigger than for Chesney, but that's okay, he got the crowd back.

He started to lose the crowd again because of the sound problems, but then he came to the second ace he had, a remake of Conway Twitty's, "I Love To Lay You Down." When the band kicked this off. song the crowd erupted all over again and didn't stop until the song was over. As luck would have it, the sound problem cleared up just then, just when he got to the hottest part of the show.

Chesney's show was jammed packed throughout, with many surprises and many hits; he played them all, from "Fall in Love" to "Me and You" to his current hits, " How Forever Feels" and, of course, "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy." Anyone who came to this show to hear their favorite Kenny Chesney song went away satisfied.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Sara Evans opened the show. Johnson played for about twenty minutes, and, having not seen her live, I was really impressed. She seems to be a very solid vocal artist, with great songs, and she appears to be a true artist instead of a manufactured one. Sara Evans put on an excellent show as always, great vocals, decent songs, however it seemed that her physical appearance had been neglected or else, it was the hideous outfit she was wearing.