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Stagecoach 2009: Kenny Chesney wraps the party

April 27, 2009 | 12:01 pm

CHESNEY___ Kenny Chesney made no bones about his mission Sunday as the closing-night headliner of the two-day Stagecoach country music festival in Indio, Calif.

“If you watch enough TV, you know the world has a lot of problems,” he told tens of thousands of fans spread out across the grassy expanse of the Empire Polo Field, many of them having sat in their lawn chairs under the desert sun for the better part of the weekend. “We’re not going to solve a single one here tonight, we’re just going to play some music and have some fun.”

On the escapism front, Chesney delivers. Where some of the greatest figures in country music have used uptempo numbers to alter the pace and allow listeners a little room to let the emotions settle between the cornerstone ballads that target their hearts, Chesney flips the model.

It was frothy hit after hit, a ballad with a little meat on its bones slipped in from time to time to vary the pace and give fans an opportunity to pause between gulps of their chosen brew.

That’s a big reason why for the last decade Chesney has sold more concert tickets than anyone else in pop music. Fans can count on his shows to be fun, fun, fun till their daddy takes the Ford F-150 away. Building on the nonstop party blueprint drawn by Jimmy Buffett, the student has become the master.

Following Kid Rock -- the cartoon before the feature -- Chesney came out hitting hard with adrenalin-chargers including  “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “Summertime” and “Beer in Mexico,” interspersed with beach-bum anthems such as “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.”

Throughout his shows, this human carom ricochets about the stage, the way Garth Brooks used to do before he bowed out of the concert scene a decade ago. Chesney has that in common with the Madonnas and the Britneys of the pop world, guaranteeing that he’ll show his fans just how hard he’ll work for their money.

He takes the occasional stab at something that reaches a little deeper, as in “Never Wanted Nothin’ More,” which charts an inner evolution where superficial desires give way to matters of the spirit. Yet there’s little hint of the struggle that necessarily accompanies that kind of transformation.

But Chesney knows fans don’t turn out for all-day music festivals to discover the meaning of life. No shoes, no soul --, no problem.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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