You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

Both hat acts have just the right amount of good-natured swagger to provide a no-worries atmosphere.

Friends long before they became country superstars, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw have paired for one of this summer’s top stadium draws, the Brothers of the Sun outing. The two last toured together in the early 2000s, and a decade later this country dream team still makes perfect sense: Both hat acts have just the right amount of good-natured swagger in their country rock to provide a perpetual no-worries atmosphere, but neither is above letting his sensitive side occasionally show.

Following openers Jake Owen and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, McGraw took the stage while it was still light for his 100-minute set. Dressed in a sheer v-neck white T-shirt and impossibly tight white jeans, the laid-back, very tanned McGraw took a bit of time to warm up, transitioning from workmanlike to spirited about one-third through his 20-song set on new tune, the bouncy “Mexicoma.” From then on, as he ran through hit after hit, he engaged much more, often kneeling down to slap hands with the audience and grinning broadly. He easily switched gears from the driving, aspirational “How Bad Do You Want It” to clear crowd favorite and emotional high point, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

McGraw’s rugged voice was most impressive on his encore, which opened with an a cappella version of the unapologetic, yet wistful “The Cowboy In Me,” before concluding with new single, “Truck Yeah,” a sly novelty tune that had the audience fist pumping and singing along.

If McGraw’s style is more relaxed, Chesney hit the stage at 100 mph and increased the speed from there. In constant motion — whether twirling, running the vast expanse of his massive stage or soaring over the audience on a high-wired seat following his entrance — Chesney is the rare performer who seems both chill and in command at all times.

With sweat dripping off his bare biceps after just two songs, Chesney spent the better part of the next two hours doing everything possible to continuously connect, blending his hits with a spirited cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and crowd favorite, the frequently performed “Blister In the Sun,” originally recorded by The Violent Femmes.

Right after Potter joined Chesney for their gorgeous 2010 hit, “You and Tequila,” Ashton Kutcher hopped on stage for the final verses of “Back Where I Come From.” The audience, spanning teens to baby boomers, enthusiastically reacted to his appealing hit-driven mix of sand-and-surf songs and tunes that embrace small-town nostalgia. Chesney seemed to hold back on some of the longer notes early on and his voice was often drowned out by his four guitarists (hey, McGraw had five), but his vocals got stronger as the night wore on.

McGraw returned for the encore, as the pair performed their recent duet, the high-octane “Feel Like A Rock Star.” They next revisited their roots, playing their breakthrough (and two of their worst) songs together — Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw” — in such giddy, slap-dash fashion that they felt unrehearsed even though the songs have been in the set for weeks.

Owen and Potter came back for a finale of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty,” also delivered in a rag-tag style. The show sputtered to an end as all four sweetly signed autographs for more than five minutes while the band continued to play the song until the quartet moseyed back up to the stage and said good night. The ending could definitely benefit from the laser-beam focus Chesney displayed the rest of the evening.

Popular on Variety

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif., 45,000 capacity, $243 top ticket price

Production: Presented by AEG/The Messina Group: Performers: Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, and Jake Owen. Reviewed July 14, 2012

More Music

  • Schoolboy Q

    ScHoolboy Q Reveals ‘CrasH’ Tour Dates

    Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist ScHoolboy Q today announced dates for his next jaunt across the country, the CrasH Tour 2019. Special guest NAV will join on select dates; dates appear in full below Produced by Live Nation, the 19-city tour will kick off November 4 in Houston and make stops in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago, and more [...]

  • United Talent Agency Reveals New Logo

    UTA Unveils New Logo, Corporate Image

    UTA raised the curtain Monday on a new corporate logo. The three-dimensional image is meant to emphasize the talent agency’s focus on uniting ideas, opportunities and talent. Building signage with the new logo will go up next month at UTA’s headquarters in Beverly Hills. “Our new identity captures the multiple facets and intersections of our [...]

  • Taylor SwiftMTV Video Music Awards, Arrivals,

    Taylor Swift Joins 'The Voice' Season 17 as a Mentor

    Taylor Swift is returning to “The Voice” as a mega mentor in the upcoming 17th season of the NBC singing competition series. The “Blank Space” singer will offer advice to each team of artists as they prepare for the knockout rounds in the show. Coaches John Legend and Blake Shelton took to Instagram to share [...]

  • Ric Ocasek and Alice Cooper 1989Ric

    Seven Times Ric Ocasek Surprised Us, From 'Hairspray' to Bad Brains

    In a universe of strong and eccentric personalities, Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, who died Sunday at the age of 75, was certainly – and happily – an odd bird. By most accounts he was quite friendly in person, yet Ocasek, 75, always seemed distant and aloof, as if he was as hermetically sealed off from [...]

  • Lime Cordiale

    Post Malone, Manager Dre London Sign Australia's Lime Cordiale

    London Cowboys, the newly formed venture by Post Malone and manager Dre London, has teamed with Australia’s Chugg Music to sign the Sidney-based duo Lime Cordiale. The group, comprised of brothers Louis and Oli Leimbach, first released music in 2012, and by 2017 had  yielded the breakout hits “Temper Temper” and “Naturally,” followed by radio [...]

  • How Timothy Hutton Came to Direct

    How Timothy Hutton Came to Direct the Cars' 'Drive' Music Video

    It’s common knowledge — among people in the industry, at least — that Timothy Hutton is the youngest ever winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Ordinary People,” which was Robert Redford’s 1980 directorial debut. A lesser known fact is that four years later at the age of 24, Hutton made his own debut [...]

  • Lionel Richie will headline a three-night

    Lionel Richie Reveals 2020 Las Vegas Engagement

    Lionel Richie’s sold-out appearance at Wynn Las Vegas last month has led to an encore appearance at the Encore theater but with a new stage show, “Lionel Richie – Las Vegas.” Richie will headline a three-night engagement in March 2020 that will feature stories from throughout his career as well as his greatest hits. Richie’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content