“The People’s Superstar,” “The Emperor of No Shoes Nation” and the top country touring artist of 2018 is on his way back to Lincoln.

Kenny Chesney will be making a Pinnacle Bank Arena stop Saturday on his “Songs for the Saints Tour,” a stripped-down arena version of last year’s stadium-filling tour that just earned him Billboard’s Top Country Tour award for 2018.

Instead of hitting the stadiums in major markets, like Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, Chesney is targeting this summer’s tour at smaller markets -- like Des Moines, Sioux Falls, S.D. and Lincoln, his run for this weekend.

“Rather than the massive two-day set-up, make everyone come to a stadium away from their homes, I wanted to go where the fans live, strip things back a bit and make it a little more intimate,” Chesney said in a statement announcing the tour.

That would be an intimate show for 12,000 or so, who will again fill Pinnacle Bank Arena to see Chesney in what almost certainly will be his fourth sold-out headlining show in Lincoln in the last 18 years.

That run of shows began with a Pershing Center concert in 2001, was followed a year-and-a-half later by a Bob Devaney Sports Center performance and then, after a 13-year gap, brought Chesney to Pinnacle in 2015. 

Chesney, who was eight years into his career when he headlined at Pershing, talked with the Journal Star before the first two shows and had plenty to say from the stage four years ago. Here’s a quick look back at some of what he had to say, and what we said about him and three Lincoln shows:

Pershing Auditorium, March 10, 2001

What He Said: “You have one of two options,” said Chesney, who had the Pershing staff set up a basketball goal and shot hoops for an hour or so before his show. “You can sit on the bus and eat and get fat or you can go work out every day. We work out. It allows the time to go by and it’s good for you.”

What We Said: “For Kenny Chesney, Saturday’s sold-out Pershing Auditorium concert was yet another payoff for eight years of work. ... Chesney is a hitmaker whose music draws on ‘70s singer-songwriter rock more than it does old Nashville fare … (he) has a show that’s tailor-made to be a crowd pleaser.”

Bob Devaney Sports Center, Aug. 28, 2002 - Nebraska State Fair concert

What He Said: “I hope I’m a regular guy. People out there relate to me and I relate to them. I grew up in the same way a lot of them did, with the same pressures and the same insecurities -- all of that stuff. I think my songs are about regular people and real life. The artists and everybody I loved are people I related to, like Randy Travis, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, like George Jones and George Strait. I hope people look at me like that.”

What We Said: “Kenny Chesney has the top-selling country tour of 2002 for a reason. It’s very likely the best show on the road. … One thing is certain, no one, not even Garth himself, could have a stronger connection with his fans than Chesney did Wednesday night … In the 17 months since he performed at Pershing Center, Chesney has taken his show up to the highest level of arena performance.”

Pinnacle Bank Arena, July 16, 2015

What He Said: “Lincoln, Nebraska, I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to sing that song in this town, this arena, this state, this community, where it means so much,” Chesney said, picking up a Husker football helmet, carrying it around the Pinnacle stage during “The Boys of Fall.”

What We Said: “He returned for a romp through 'She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy' before leaving a satisfied crowd that got just what it had come for. That is, watching and hearing Chesney, a multiple winner of country entertainer of the year for good reason, deliver another of his engaging shows -- two hours of singalong hits delivered at high volume by a six-piece band and the constant motion singing machine.”

Photos from Kenny Chesney's previous Lincoln show

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott is an entertainment reporter and columnist.

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