Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw at Target Field, 7/8/12

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Tony Nelson
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Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
Brothers of the Sun Tour
With Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, and Jake Owen
Target Field, Minneapolis
Sunday, July 8, 2012


Things were a little different at Target Field Sunday night. We already know that the downtown Minneapolis home of the Minnesota Twins is a great place for a ballgame, but how would it fare with floorboards covering the playing surface and a giant stage jutting up out of center field? The answer was upon us in the form of a country music concert starring two seasoned vets who were making music back when Chuck Knoblauch was still a Twin. After a Paul McCartney show didn't materialize, this was the very first time the field would be packed with 40,000 music fans -- and these folks chose straw hats and cowboy boots over MLB gear as their signature attire.

You really couldn't ask for a better day for a show. Abundant sun and a little breeze danced through the open-air stadium as Florida product Jake Owen kicked things off with some pop-oriented twang at 4:30 p.m. It really was a day, though. With the final notes echoing off the Ford Building and Target Center more than six hours later, this would be a long time to subsist on Budweiser, nachos, and steel guitar.

It was Grace Potter who looked as comfortable as anyone on the big stage and its cross-shaped runway jutting out into the crowd -- she took to it barefoot! With her backing band the Nocturnals providing a dose of the South via Vermont, they created moments that still had hard-rocking country flair, but without the strict Nashville songcraft found in the rest of the day's acts. ( Although their most popular hit to date is "You and Tequila," a collaboration with our headliner Kenny Chesney.) "Paris (Ooh La La)" got a half-full stadium stomping along, and Potter -- who is all kicking legs and glee -- proved that covering ZZ Top's "Tush" is not something just reserved for the fellas.

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Photo by Tony Nelson
Potter and co. left a great, spastic image -- and provided a teaching moment for all working bands out there -- by wrapping up with "Medicine" off their 2010 self-titled album. This band collaborated on a team effort by gathering around Matt Burr's kit to beat every drum, cymbal, and probably knocked a few limbs in the process. This bit of unbridled teamwork was easy to ponder during nearly a half an hour wait for Tim McGraw's stage to be set.

By the way, Tim McGraw looks a lot like a professional wrestler these days. He chose to offset his skin, tanned to a shade somewhere in the "burnt umber" range, with a stylized white v-neck, matching white jeans, and a black cowboy hat. It was a bit like watching an admittedly understated Macho Man Randy Savage perform "I Like It, I Love It." And though McGraw was the first act of the dual-headlining show, and made the beer vendors happy and delved well into a full-length set spanning his career with a backing band steeped with talent and more understated wardrobe choices.

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Photo by Tony Nelson
Without much scampering around, McGraw can pull the crowd's favor with a well-timed fist pump, and a smile that belies that Target Field is far from his first show playing for an enormous, packed house. A shiny red microphone in hand, he pushed outside his country boundaries with the ELO-conjuring new song "Mexicoma" right after a fiddle-filled "Where the Green Grass Grows" without batting an eye. This guy did record with Nelly back in the day, after all.

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