The kickoff to Kenny Chesney’s The Big Revival tour Thursday night (March 26) was a marathon of hits and surprise guests. It was one of those shows where if you looked down for a moment, a loud roar from the thousands of fans around you would snap your attention back to the stage in anticipation of another cameo or another unforgettable moment.

Of course, not every spike in the audience’s fever pitch meant someone new was strutting to center stage. But plenty did. Taylor Swift was first, surprising the audience first with her familiar falsetto before the spotlight caught up to her long legs. The two sang “Big Star” before she gave Chesney a birthday kiss and returned to her VIP seat behind the sound board. Even those at the back of Bridgestone Arena could view the entire performance up close thanks to several enormous, crystal clear video screens.

Three songs later, Grace Potter joined Chesney to sing their current single, “Wild Child.” One knew she’d be back — it’d be a travesty of the night didn’t include “You and Tequila.” Indeed, the pair began the Tennessean’s six-song encore with that song. Joe Walsh stole the show there with four of his well-known tracks, plus “Happy Birthday” for the 47-year-old superstar.

In total Chesney sang 37 songs, keeping his promise to play well into the night. There were the expected hits (“Summertime,” “I Go Back,” “Living in Fast Forward” and “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”) and a few pleasant surprises. His acoustic version of “Old Blue Chair” was a last-minute addition. “American Kids” was as good live as one hoped it’d be. Chesney has had few opportunities to sing the song live, having taken 2014 off from the road.

That performance was a highlight for many, although it’s hard to say what the highlight was. David Lee Murphy’s appearance no doubt left fans of ‘90s country music buzzing. Uncle Kracker brought his unpolished charm to three of his hits, plus a duet of “When the Sun Goes Down.” Even Chesney’s band got in on the act. The singer’s new bassist held the audience in her hand while she sang AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie.” Harmoni Kelley McCarty is a name and face fans will no doubt become very familiar with in 2015.

Chesney and openers Jake Owen and Chase Rice will be back at the Bridgestone Arena on Friday night (March 27) before a stop in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday (March 28). The meat of the 55-date tour begins in April. There are 22 stadium dates on the schedule through August — if Chesney was just warming up in Nashville, there’s lots to look forward to at venues like Detroit’s Ford Field.

Kenny Chesney's March 26 Setlist:
“Drink It Up”
“Beer in Mexico”
“Keg in the Closet”
“Til It’s Gone”
“Rock Bottom”
“Pirate Flag”
“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem”
“Big Star” (with Taylor Swift)
“Somewhere With You”
“I Go Back”
“Wild Child” (with Grace Potter)
“Old Blue Chair”
“Living in Fast Forward”
“Whole Lotta Rosie”
“American Kids”
“Anything But Mine”
“There Goes My Life”
“How Forever Feels”
“Dust on the Bottle” (with David Lee Murphy)
“Party Crowd” (with David Lee Murphy)
“Never Wanted Nothing More”
“When the Sun Goes Down” (with Uncle Kracker)
“Follow Me” (with Uncle Kracker)
“Cowboy” (with Uncle Kracker)
“Drift Away” (with Uncle Kracker)
“Don’t Happen Twice”
“Out Last Night”
“Boys of Fall”

“You and Tequila” (with Grace Potter)
“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”
“Rocky Mountain Way” (with Joe Walsh)
“Life in the Fast Lane” (with Joe Walsh)
“Life’s Been Good” (with Joe Walsh)
“All Night Long” (with Joe Walsh)

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