18 Years Ago: Kenny Chesney Headlines His First Stadium Concert
On June 7, 2003, Kenny Chesney set a career milestone: He headlined his first stadium concert.
According to CMT, Chesney's stadium gig drew 61,780 people to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. — home not just to the University of Tennessee, but also a place the native of nearby Luttrell knew well. “I sat right up there and watched UT kick Notre Dame’s butt when I was 5 years old,” Chesney said during the gig, pointing to a location in the stadium.
Appropriately, Chesney's inaugural stadium concert was dubbed the “Back Where I Come From Party.” The show featured a strong list of openers -- Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Deana Carter and Brooks & Dunn — as well as special guests: For starters, Chesney's mom was spotted backstage.
During the show, former UT football star Peyton Manning hopped onstage to sing the chorus of "Back Where I Come From," while Uncle Kracker performed his hit "Follow Me." Saving the biggest star for last, Kid Rock also teamed up with Chesney to cover his rock hit "Cowboy."
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Kid Rock told CMT at the time. “I like to call him ’the little man with the big voice.’ You just wonder where that comes from when he opens his mouth and starts singing.”
Chesney opened his first stadium show with “Live Those Songs,” and also performed “Never Gonna Feel Like That Again," "Young" and "Midnight Rider Cowboy." And while he had every right to be nervous, he seemed cool as a cucumber talking to CMT before the show.
“I’ve been so busy the past couple of days, I can’t believe it’s already here,” Chesney said. “We were a little worried about the rain earlier, but it’s passed through, the sun’s out and there’s 60,000 people here at this stadium to see us play. It’s a great feeling.”
Chesney has gone on to become a perennial stadium act in the years since his first big gig. He is currently in the midst of his Trip Around the Sun Tour 2018, playing a mix of stadiums and amphitheaters.
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