The first anchor dropped June 7 for Kenny June 11 show at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. By 10 a.m. on show date, the boats were eight deep on the Allegheny River as the No Shoes Nation Navy turned out in full force for the man the Wall Street Journal called “The King of the Road.” Inside the stadium, there 53,205 people packed into the stadium for a reunion four years in the making... offering an almost full-minute ovation after “I Go Back,” a freewheeling “Guitars and Tiki Bars” and a hard-charging “We Do,” the album track that’s become the rallying cry for No Shoes Nation.
“Those two shows – Pittsburgh and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio – had such strong, beautiful energy,” Kenny said. “Blossom was almost spiritual, hearing them sing the chorus to ‘Anything But Mine.’ Then to roll into Pittsburgh, where the passion that hit the stage was almost physical, it made for an incredible couple of days that showed why that part of the Midwest is called the heartland.”
The very next weekend, Kenny kept that Keystone State energy high. Always a massive market for the songwriter/superstar from East Tennessee, the Lincoln Financial Field at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles was not only his tenth completely sold-out show, he surpassed his personal record-setting 2015 and 2018 with 55,519 fans packed into the stadium for their first Kenny show in four years.
“You always think it can’t get bigger, can’t get better... and then it does,” Kenny marvels. “Philadelphia has been one of those cities for us, every time we play, No Shoes Nation comes strong and builds momentum all night long. By the time we got to the end, that energy pushed back as hard as all the sound we were pushing out into the night – and you can feel it.”
So in the moment was the only country artist to be on Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years for the last thirteen years, he cut his finger during “American Kids,” had a crew member tape him up and never missed a beat or word of the intensely lyrical celebration of youth, freedom and coloring outside the lines. Done in a matter of seconds, it showed how well-oiled Kenny’s road family truly is.
“There was no way I was breaking the momentum of that song,” Kenny said after the show. “We were in it, and I wasn’t gonna stop. We know how to roll with whatever happens, so when I looked down, saw I was bleeding, it was just a matter of getting the right tape out there – and making sure the tape would hold ‘cause obviously it gets pretty hot.”
For many of No Shoes Nation, the over 1,000 days they’ve held their tickets was more than just an act of faith, it appears to be a promise that the moments they’ve lived and euphoria Kenny has given them over the years would return. In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, like so many cities on the tour that’s broken record-after-record, that was certainly the case.
Here And Now 2022 is presented by Blue Chair Bay and fueled by MARATHON. Get ready for a long hot summer – and a whole lot of music still ahead.