Rising from an elevator midfield and floating to the stage on a swing, Chesney began his set with a trio of smash hits that mirrored the crowd’s celebratory mood – “Beer in Mexico,” “Keg in the Closet,” and “Summertime.” He continued with the live return of “What I Need To Do” and “On The Coast of Somewhere Beautiful” which did not appear on any setlists in 2011, and a stirring rendition of his latest single “Come Over,” from his upcoming album ‘Welcome To The Fishbowl’ (June 19).
“I have to tell you what a fitting place Tampa is for us to start the Brothers of the Sun Tour!” Chesney said. “…here, it’s always summertime.”
Tim McGraw commanded the packed stadium with back-to-back hits including “Felt Good On My Lips,” “Real Good Man,” “I Like It, I Love It” and “Live Like You Were Dying.” The GRAMMY winner also previewed several highly-anticipated new songs with the feel good “Mexicoma” and the high energy show-stopper “Truck Yeah.” Backstage before the show, McGraw met and spent time with the first recipients of his HomeFront program, which awards a mortgage free home to injured servicemembers at each tour stop this summer.
The nearly seven-hour show began with sets from rising stars Jake Owen and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Potter was welcomed to the stage during Chesney’s set to perform an emotional version of their GRAMMY-nominated platinum duet “You & Tequila,” followed by a birthday celebration for Nocturnals drummer Matt Burr. Sports fans in the crowd received a special surprise as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new star tight end Dallas Clark joined Chesney onstage during the set-closing “The Boys of Fall.” The party was up and running backstage, too, with sports-world superstars Jon Gruden, Steve Spurrier, Dallas Clark, and Kirk Herbstreit enjoying the perfect Florida sun.
Excitement for the all-day party, that “some are calling…country music’s biggest tour ever” (AP), reached a fever pitch as McGraw joined Chesney onstage for an electrifying 30-minute encore that kicked off with their duet “Feel Like a Rock Star.” The set continued with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw” and “Refried Dreams,” and a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty,” with Grace Potter and Jake Owen, that sent the crowd home feeling anything but.
The ‘Brothers of the Sun’ Tour, with Chesney and McGraw visits the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA tonight. Next weekend, the “heartland rocking madness (Dallas Morning News)” will descend upon Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO.