Last Night: Kenny Chesney at Reliant Stadium

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Kenny Chesney Reliant Stadium March 12, 2013

My heart was stolen by a cowboy last night, and I don't want it back.

I, along with nearly 70,000 other spectators, rolled into Reliant Stadium for yet another RodeoHouston concert -- only this time it was Kenny Chesney.

It was great to be at a show that actually felt country; I know that the rodeo works hard to bring in a diverse group of artists, and that feat is commendable given the gargantuan task that it must be. However, as evidenced last night, there's simply nothin' better than being at the rodeo, drink in hand, listening to some good ol' country music in Houston, Texas.

Admittedly, Kenny Chesney has never been on my favorites list; I'm a little traditional about my taste in country music (and not 'cause that's hip; it's just what I was raised on), so I can be wary about the hybrid-country artists on the scene, especially those of the beach-bum/cowboy variation. Perhaps I shouldn't be.

When Chesney kicked off his show with "Beer in Mexico," there was little fanfare aside from a roaring crowd and his voice -- and oh, that voice. I was tempted to drop everything and risk ruining my new boots to grab a Corona with that ol' boy on the beaches of Cozumel. He was that good.

This was the first concert this rodeo season where I haven't felt like the sound system was off. There's been a trend of things sounding pretty warped or overwhelmed by the sheer size of the stadium, but Chesney's voice really translated well in the venue.

I'm not sure who should get the credit for that, but I was pretty relieved that his vocals sounded, for the most part, on target. He's not a huge singer, but he doesn't need to be. The feel-good tracks kind of carried themselves, no larger-than-life vocals needed.

Chesney seemed entirely comfortable with the stage, as one would expect of a performer who's graced the rodeo with his presence, oh, seven or so times. There was an ease to the entire performance that I haven't seen on the rodeo stage in a while; Chesney didn't run the length of it in a grab for excitement, and nothing was staged or fixed. He just sang, and we just bobbed along in agreement. It was pretty sweet.

What was great about Chesney's performance is that it felt really genuine; I suppose he surfaced well before this whole leather-and-rock country trend, but even without all of the accouterments, he wasn't overwhelmed by the stage or the audience in tow. No garish movements or choreography, and he kept it relatively old-school -- no leather pants on that country boy, just a toned-down T-shirt, some (very tight) jeans and a cowboy hat.

Chesney touched on most of the audience favorites, which was an impressive task given that he's got 13 albums under his belt at this point. He tempted us to throw up our feet on the dashboard with "Summertime," reminded us of the importance of where we came from with "I Go Back," and tempted us to risk being thrown out of our local bar with "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem."

There were some newer tracks thrown in there as well; a standout from his newer catalog was "You and Tequila," an endearing yet slightly depressing song about how both tequila and I get him. (And yes, I'm going to claim that song is about me. You don't know.)

The only real gripe I had is that he didn't play that stinkin' tractor song. It made my rule-breaking pose against the giant John Deere tractor outside of the arena all for naught. Oh, well. I'm sure he'll be here next year, and so will I.

Personal Bias: My date (my sister) wouldn't stop gushing about his derriere. I was a little distracted by some cowboy booteh.

The Crowd: Chicks, man. Some boyfriends of the chicks, but mostly just the girls.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Wait...wasn't he married to that Kidman chick?" (And no, it was actually Renée Zellweger.)

Random Notebook Dump: Would it hurt him to slutty up the jeans and tee just a bit?

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