Kenny Chesney Postpones Early Shows: ‘I Won’t Take Chances With Those I Love’

Kenny Chesney
Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

Kenny Chesney plays “Get Along” for the crowd at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas April 15.

Kenny Chesney isn’t taking any chances with No Shoes Nation. With 23 stadiums shows – and almost 20 amphitheater dates – the East Tennessee superstar has pushed back the kick-off of his Chillaxification 2020 Tour, slated to begin April 18 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

In a statement, the stadium-sized superstar explained, “You can’t take risks without really understanding the consequences. In times of uncertainty, I won’t take chances with those I love. I can’t imagine, as much as we love being out there playing for the fans, being able to do that through the worry our nation is experiencing.

“So, while we wait to see how this terrible virus is going to impact our country, I think it’s only fair to move these first several dates now. We are figuring some of this out as we go, but I know people buy airline tickets, book hotel rooms – and I wanted to try to give everyone as much time to sort that out as possible.”

Those dates include 7 stadiums and four amphitheaters. In the midst of full production rehearsals, Chesney made the decision to try to move his first several shows in hopes that there would be a greater understanding of transmission and treatment plan for the Corona Virus, as well as a tapering off of cases from people becoming mindful and aware.

“Kenny has always been one of those artists who is hyper-aware of the fans,” Messina Touring Group EVP of Marketing Kate McMahon tells Pollstar exclusively. “He cares for them, pays attention and really works to make sure everything is optimal for them. He lives to get out there and play, but he’s never going to let that stop him from doing what he believes is right.

“He doesn’t want to disappoint people, so this was a tough call given the number of stadiums. We’re at work right now, trying to find alternate dates – and it’s going to take us some time to figure it all out. But we’re committed to trying to reschedule as many as possible.”

Sponsored by Blue Chair Bay Rum, the Chillaxification was shaping up to be one of the summer’s biggest stadium tours. With Florida Georgia Line, Old Dominion and Michael Franti & Spearhead, the 8-time Entertainer of the Year is – if the pandemic is deemed under control – hoping to kick-off his our May 30 at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, one of the original three stadiums he played in 2005. 

McMahon is hoping to have clarity in six weeks. Acknowledging there are many layers and moving parts with shows of this size, it requires time – and MTG is committed to exploring the possibilities responsibly. Once they have everything sorted, those who are unable to attend wll be given a refund.

“This is all uncharted,” Chesney said in a release. “I’m like everyone else: watching the news, wondering when we may know something concrete, not sure how this gets transmitted, worried someone I know will catch it. I want to believe this will all be okay in the end; but right now, I don’t feel like this risk to No Shoes Nation is worth it.

“Nobody wants to get out there for these shows more than I do. We’ve started rehearsals; everything is loaded in – and the band sounds great. Music is medicine when your soul or your heart need healing, but I don’t want my music to put anyone at risk. So, I promise: we are going to work as quickly as we can to sort out what we can and can’t do in terms of these dates. We’re going to cross our fingers this pandemic will resolve as some of the experts have suggested, and we hope to kick off the tour May 30th at Heinz Field. But mostly, I hope this virus is contained, and the suffering and deaths are kept to the fewest possible people.”

The impacted dates are:

April 18        AT&T Stadium                                Dallas, TX

April 25        Miller Park                                       Milwaukee, MO.

May 2            US Bank Stadium                           Minneapolis, MN        

May 7            IThink Financial Amphitheater    West Palm Beach, FL*

May 9            Raymond James Stadium              Tampa, FL
May 13            BankPlus Amphitheater               Southaven, MS*
May 14            Brandon Amphitheater                Brandon, MS*
May16            Mercedes Benz Stadium               Atlanta, GA
May 22            Minute Maid Park                         Houston, TX
May 23            Alamodome                                  San Antonio, TX
May 28            Blossom Music Center                  Cuyahoga Falls, OH*
    * Michael Franti + Spearhead only