The most important departure was sharing the bill this summer in a near-double-headliner format with fellow behatted big-timer Tim McGraw on their "Brothers of the Sun" tour. McGraw — taller, leaner, and surprising tanner than the famously fit and beach-oriented Chesney — preceded his tourmate's nighttime spectacle with more than 20 songs spanning his career, including the new tunes "Mexicoma" and the already popular set-closing "Truck Yeah."
The show began hours earlier with Jake Owen, still working his breakthrough third album of last August, Barefoot Blue Jean Night, who got things rolling at half past 4 with a set of standard contemporary country fare. The next act, however, shuffled things up. Vermont's Grace Potter and the Nocturnals thundered through a rock-based performance that nonetheless featured power-ballad moments, mostly drawing from front woman Potter and Co.'s fourth studio album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, just released Tuesday. (Remaining in the area, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are due to play a sold-out headlining show in Delaware on Sunday, at Wilmington's World Cafe Live at The Queen.) Potter later joined Chesney for their "You and Tequila" duet, previously on his previous album Hemingway's Whiskey, but also featured on his fifteenth effort, Welcome to the Fishbowl — to come out Tuesday — in a live take from last summer.
There was no surprise appearance stage of Eagles coach Andy Reid presenting a football helmet to Chesney as there was last year, but the athletic crooner thanked the team for use of their workout facilities earlier in the day (and the stadium). In the encore set, McGraw reappeared after high-fiving his way through the crowd to do his hit duet with Chesney, "Feel Like a Rock Star," also on Welcome to the Fishbowl. After each star traded vocals on Cheney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and McGraw's early single "Indian Outlaw," the evening wrapped with an extended version of Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty."