By Erin Duvall
Early in the night, Kenny kicked into his 2003 hit “Big Star,” about the hard work and perseverance of “Garth Brooks in a skirt.” After completing the first verse and chorus, the arena erupted when Taylor Swift took the stage to sing the second first and finish out the song. As Kenny sang the lyrics, he pointed to Taylor, and the pair exchanged high fives, hugs and even a kiss on the forehead during the song. They even pulled a little girl—no older than 8 years old—from the audience, hugged her and then walked her backstage at the end of the song. “Happy Birthday, Kenny Chesney,” Taylor said upon her exit, adding, “I love you Nashville!”
Taylor wasn’t the only one to wish the 47-year-old a happy birthday over the course of the night. At numerous points, the crowd started unorganized attempts to sing “Happy Birthday” and the little girl who got to hug both Kenny and Taylor during “Big Star” had made it up to hug just Kenny before that performance after holding a sign that read, “Happy birthday, Kenny! Can this ‘Wild Child’ have a hug?” Kenny even made a joke about how great it was to being playing Music City on his birthday before laughing, “You only turn 27 once.” He told the audience that his parents and sister were able to make the show, as well as close family and friends.
(Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
An idol and close friend of Kenny’s made an appearance during the encore. The Eagles’ Joe Walsh not only played four songs with the head of the No Shoes Nation, but he stopped to crowd and properly sang “Happy Birthday” to him before presenting him with a birthday trophy.
Another guest, who made several appearances throughout the night, was tipped off the moment Kenny took the stage in a sleeveless Grace Potter and the Nocturnals T-shirt. The first time was for “Wild Child,” which Kenny described as, “A song I wrote with two friends. I wrote this song about these girls that I know that are friends of mine and love, love and love life. This is one of my favorite songs I’ve written in a while. It goes out to all you wonderful wild childs in the audience.” Grace then returned for the first song of the encore, “You and Tequila.”
Midway through the show, Kenny introduced “the original hillbilly rockstar,” singer-songwriter David Lee Murphy, who penned many of Kenny’s tunes, including “Living in Fast Forward,” “Til It’s Gone” and “Pirate Flag.” Together, the pair performed Murphy’s 1995 No. 1 “Dust on the Bottle” and his Top 10 hit “Party Crowd.”