"To say that I missed you guys was an understatement," Kenny Chesney told the crowd at his Nashville tour kickoff

By Kay West
March 27, 2015 01:00 PM
Rick Diamond/Getty

Kenny Chesney‘s mother, father, sister, 18,000 fans and an all-star line-up of musical guests celebrated his 47th birthday Thursday night in Nashville as he kicked off his Big Revival tour.

“To say that I missed you guys was an understatement,” Chesney told the Bridgestone Arena crowd of his return to the stage after a two-year break.

By the time he said goodnight more than three hours later – after former Eagle Joe Walsh led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” – it was past midnight and Chesney was already a day older.

The 36-song set was infused with surprise guests.

When Taylor Swift strode out in a short skirt and midriff-baring top to lend her vocals to “Big Star” the arena erupted in screams and thousands of cell phones began snapping photos.

Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift
Rick Diamond/Getty

David Lee Murphy – the writer behind many songs in Chesney’s catalogue – took the spotlight to perform his own #1 from 1995, “Dust on the Bottle.”

Grace Potter also appeared, first to join Chesney on his current single “Wild Child,” and then hours later during the encore, for their duet “You and Tequila.”

Uncle Kracker also crashed the party, adding four songs to the set list, including their smash collaboration, “When the Sun Goes Down.”

Just when fans thought the sun was setting on the show with Chesney’s traditional encore-closer “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” he offered to order breakfast if they stuck around, and then brought out Walsh for “Life in the Fast Lane” and “All Night Long.”

The long night finally ended when Chesney signed off with, “It’s great to be back. We love you, good night.”

The Big Revival is camped out in Nashville for a second sold-out show before hitting the road for the summer for 55 dates including 22 stadium shows (10 co-headlined with Jason Aldean).

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