WILDWOOD — Welcoming the crowd with the words, “Wildwood, New Jersey, hello. How are you? We are so proud to be here,” country music superstar Kenny Chesney entertained 20,000 of his fans for free Wednesday night on the beach.
Chesney performed for more than two hours on a seemingly perfect summer night, with a light breeze off the ocean.
A multipart video screen showed Chesney to his fans, who were spread out across 300 yards from the stage to a bleacher section in the sand. The bleachers blocked some views of the stage from the Boardwalk, but despite city officials’ pleas for visitors to stay away if they didn’t have tickets, the Boardwalk was packed with people content to just hear the music.
When the video wasn’t being used, rows of lights flashed bold, solid colors on Chesney and his band.
The stage was set up with a Ferris wheel at its left and a roller coaster at its right on Schellenger Beach.
Chesney himself marveled at what was accomplished in a week’s time.
“We have been looking forward to tonight for a while,” Chesney said before he asked the crowd to give his crew a round of applause.
Chesney made many references throughout his show to the unusual situation in which he was playing a concert in a place he had never even visited before.
“This is one of the most unique settings I have ever played music,” Chesney said from the stage.
Fans sang along and took over the vocals when he sang “Anything But Mine,” “Summertime” and other well-known songs from his catalog.
Chesney treated his fans to a solo version of “Me and Tequila,” which prompted people to raise their cell phones, digital cameras and lights in the air so the crowd resembled stars in the nighttime sky.
Chesney’s feel-good songs attracted a wide range of people, from teens to grandparents, and anybody who owned a cowboy hat felt that this was the night to break it out.
Chesney rewarded the crowd’s enthusiastic response to his show by telling them this was the best party he ever had to kick off an album. Chesney released a new CD titled “Welcome To The Fishbowl” on Tuesday. Chesney talked about his new album on the video segment that was shown before the concert.
Both the preconcert video and a live simulcast of the show on YouTube were directed by Academy Award-winner Jonathan Demme.
The vocalist and guitarist tailored some of his show to fit the setting, singing his song “On The Coast Of Somewhere Beautiful” and “When the Sun Goes Down.”
Chesney continued playing for 45 minutes after the live stream of the show ended. The last songs, about nine of them, included a solo acoustic version of “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen and a cover of “The Joker” by Steve Miller.
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