By: K.C. Libman
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
When two of the largest acts in modern country come together for a tour that has the illustrious Jake Owen opening, it can't be anything but a monumental event for the genre. Saturday night's “Brothers of The Sun” tour stop in Anaheim, featuring Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, lived up to the hype surrounding it, as the two legendary musicians treated the crowd to enthusiastically long sets in an raucous festival atmosphere.
The only thing to dislike about McGraw is that he was the opener, and that didn't seem to affect his set. He possesses one of the most affable and aw-shucks stage presences in country music while still doing a service to the white Wranglers and leather ten-gallon cowboy hat that he donned onstage. McGraw's 90-minute set was a packed affair, and while he played some of his most notable hits (“Something Like That,” “Where The Green Grass Grows”), the seminal country singer turned Angels Stadium into a church with the tearjerking “Live Like You Were Dying.” The Lousiana-born McGraw has been in industry for twenty-odd years, but his banter and performance don't belie his age and rather highlight his experience. It's a bold claim, but McGraw could and should be poised to reign as king of country music once Alan Jackson steps down from the throne.
Though his tunes may not be as perennially classic as McGraw's, let no one ever tell you that Kenny Chesney is a poor entertainer. Chesney, at 44 years of age, rarely stood still throughout his set and only when he was required to do so, singing into his mic with his weathered Gibson guitar in his hands. Chesney, while having penned a slew of Southern-tinged odes to a life on the beach, is one of those surprising entertainers who's behind a fair number of country favorites. While songs ranged from the riotous “Summertime” to the sensitive “You And Tequila” duet with touring partner Grace Potter, Chesney's poignant “What I Need To Do” was a Garth Brooks-esque standout, and was one of few slow moments throughout his set. Though he's become a lot more about Mexican beaches than Mississippi mud, Chesney's brand of sun-and-salt country is something that's all his own, and something he does exceptionally well.
The Brothers of The Sun tour helped to convey the general appeal that country holds. A truly diverse crowd was in attendance, selling out the stadium while spanning all ages and statuses. Though limo buses lined the parking lot, flip-flops were far more common than Wranglers, and as far removed from country music's stereotype as Anaheim is, there was still an unabashed enthusiasm for Chesney and McGraw. It proved that country music doesn't have to be just dirt roads and down-home appeal — Southern California still offered up its best glamorized Southern charm.
Critical bias: If George Strait magically appeared out of thin air for the McGraw/Chesney encore set, I could have happily died right there.
The crowd: Everyone and their grandmother, but a lot of little blonde things in Daisy Dukes above all else.
Random notebook dump: Why did Ashton Kutcher come out and sing with Chesney, and since when did he start dressing like a cowboy?