Another shoe has fallen in the succession of music stars reluctantly acknowledging that early and mid-summer 2021 are not going to be tenable for staging major national tours. Kenny Chesney, the only other artist besides Taylor Swift who had a series of stadium gigs pushed back from last summer to this summer, has joined her in calling off his upcoming shows. Unlike Swift, though, who finally canceled everything, Chesney is pushing back his 18 stadium for the second year in a row, offering fans the chance to get refunds or hold onto their tickets for use in summer 2022.
“Here comes reality. We’re moving to 2022,” Chesney said in a statement. “Where I feel better about us all being together safely. I’d rather keep everyone safe and know we can rock for years to come.”
Last June, in the still-early stages of the pandemic, Chesney had optimistically rescheduled his 2020 dates for ’21. The postponed tour was scheduled to kick off May 1 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. and run through a climactic double-header Aug 27-28 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Among the planned dates was a July 24 stop at the new SoFi Stadium in the L.A. area and an Aug. 21 date at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, late summer, when Chesney would have been wrapping up his tour, is when some experts have said large-scale concert events could start ramping up again nationally. While Chesney could have probably held on to some of his dates in states where restrictions are likely to lift earlier — which is to say, holding onto his date at AT&T Stadium in Texas would likely not have been a problem — most stadiums will be operating at limited capacity if they open up for concerts this summer at all, a situation that for Chesney might have involved starting from scratch with ticketing.
“We have waited, and we have hoped. Talked to medical experts, stadium people, local officials across the country,” Chesney said. “I hate what I’m about to tell you. With all the progress being made around the pandemic, there is still too much unknown. What we’re hearing changes daily… anything is possible… But if we can only do two-thirds of the audience? Who decides who doesn’t get to come to the show we’ve all been waiting for? If we have to have social distancing measures, how far apart will you be?… As much I hate postponing further, I would hate telling people who waited we won’t be able to let them come due to capacity restrictions. That’s just not fair.”
Chesney has not announced the rescheduled dates for 2022, but his reps said those would be coming shortly from the Messina Touring Group.
Although other artists don’t have stadium-level tours to contend with, plenty still have arena and amphitheater tours on the books for this summer that are likely to see postponements or cancellations as well.
Tellingly, the Hollywood Bowl no longer has any concerts listed on its website before a Daryl Hall and John Oates show in October — even though no announcements have been made about canceling the summer season, and Ticketmaster still has shows officially remaining on sale for the Bowl for shows as early as May.
Where the real start line for major national tours will begin remains an open question. Harry Styles has one beginning Aug. 14. The Strokes, as of now, are still booked into the Forum in L.A. for a May 15 show. Andrea Bocelli’s arena tour is set to begin in May 16 with a May 23 show at the Bowl. James Taylor and Jackson Browne are set to begin their joint tour May 14, with a Los Angeles-area stop at the Honda Center on May 28. Chris Stapleton’s postponed tour from last year is still booked to begin afresh June 5 at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Amphitheatre. The Backstreet Boys remain officially on board to kick off a tour at the Bowl on June 7.
More, as they say, to come.