Sammy Hagar Steals Kenny Chesney's Thunder in Arizona, Mas Tequilla!

University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, AZ, United States - May 31, 2008

by David Svendsen

Sammy HagarThis had to be one of the worst shows I have been to in the past decade. The University of Phoenix Stadium (once known as the Cardinals Stadium) is simply no place to have a concert. The sound is so sub par it is nauseating. I went from the floor, to the 1st level, to the 2nd level and even up to the 3rd, and it never got better. Normally it seems when a headlining band is threatened by a support band, the sound tends to suffer for the support bands but miraculously improves by the time the headliner takes the stage. Too bad this show had so much great talent before the lackluster headliner.

Such was the case with Sammy Hagar. I have seen him perform a half dozen times and he was perfect every time. I'm not a gigantic Hagar fan, but the man knows how to rock. Maybe that was his problem. He made Gary Allan look like a local band, so much so you simply forgot who came on before Hagar. To his credit, Hagar did play more mellow rock steady type songs than some of his all out rockers (although no matter where Sammy plays, he has to play the hits).

The crowd roared when Hagar opened with Mas Tequilla and There's Only One Way to Rock. This was definitely the man to set the party pace. Getting extra funky with Finish What You Started, and continuing on through I Can't Drive 55, Hagar was easily the best received artist on the bill tonight. Hagar resonates life on the beach, brings that laid back attitude with him wherever he goes. Something the crowd related to well.

To be fair to Allen, the crowd did react well to some of his material, especially Drinkin' Dark Whiskey. Other crowd favorites included southern rocking Songs About Rain and Right Where I Need to Be, the heartwarming Best I Ever Had, as well as Man to Man and Half of My Mistakes.

I've learned over the years how to recognize another indication that the headlining band is threatened by support - when they will not allow media to photograph any of the support. Not a surprise coming from the insecure Chesney camp. Hagar's folks had no problem giving up a photo pass for his performance. However, Chesney's folks were having none of it. If Chesney's people didn't OK it, then it wasn't OK. While Chesney's people spin idiotic excuses as to their reasons why, I'm curious as to why they can control the promotion of the other artists? Oh right, too much of a threat.

LeAnn Rimes once again canceled out of a huge Arizona performance. Vocal issues. Uh...LeAnn doesn't seem to like Arizona, got it. Next.

Keith Urban came out next, and didn't sound much better. I do have to give the man credit however, as he gave three of his key band members a moment in the spotlight to showcase their vocal talent. Incredible talent. He'd better be careful before some of this talent decides to take things solo.

The crowd had a blast during Urban's performance, as his contagious grin was shown high on the big screens all night. He makes quick time getting the audience involved by beginning his set with Days Go By and Where the Blacktop Ends. One of the genre's more established guitarists, he used the full length of the stage's walkway out in to the crowd to deliver Stupid Boy, and then let loose on riffs by Deep Purple and Aerosmith, among others, during I Told You So.

When Kenny Chesney did come out, it was apparent he shouldn't be in a stadium. He looked uncomfortable and definitely out of place. Not surprisingly, the sound was better. Imagine that.

Starting somewhat stiff, he began with Live Those Songs, Summertime and Beer In Mexico. He was constantly walking the runway and kicking beach balls back in to the crowd, trying to keep beach feel Hagar established flowing. He continued on with No Shirt No Shoes No Problem, When the Sun Goes Down (which included a duet with Uncle Kracker), Living in Fast Forward, How Forever Feels and Back Where I Come From. The crowd ate up every one of the hits.

After a long night, Chesney's performance appeared awkward, like he wasn't ready for it. The crowd seemed to overlook it and just enjoyed the music regardless. Lots of beer helped.

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