Kenny Chesney’s latest album, Be as You Are, was inspired by his love of the islands and all but one song was actually written there. It should come as no shock then that Chesney’s first of back-to-back sold out shows for his “Somewhere in the Sun” tour was as close to the islands as you’re going to get in Wisconsin during late March. Also not a surprise is that the sun was nowhere to be found.

No worries; as you all know, “everything gets hotter when the sun goes down.” Fans had no choice but to “check their worries” at the door as Chesney instructed and enter the makeshift paradise. Chesney’s surprise entrance, from the back- on an elevated swing- certainly got the party started, but it was his non-stop performance of island-inspired songs, as well as some old favorites, that set the place on fire.

In between breaks to grasp the hands of eager funs lucky enough to cuddle up to the stage, and to accept various gifts including Hawaiian leis- among other non-mentionables- Chesney, CMA’s 2004 Entertainer of the Year, did what he does best.

Tanned, toned and with his Old Blue Chair in tow, Chesney brought the excitement of the islands to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Way back when, we all learned to love him for his more original country hits like, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” and “Back Where I Come From,” both of which fans were able to enjoy, but it’s hard not to love anything that makes you feel like you’re on the beach with Kenny Chesney, your favorite umbrella drink in hand.

His powerful vocals did the trick and fans couldn’t help but sing along, umbrella drinks raised, to favorites from his triple platinum album, When the Sun Goes Down such as “I Go Back,” and the title track, with Uncle Kracker making an appearance in what else but a Brett Favre jersey. More favorites from his older album, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, which went quadruple platinum after its release in 2002, helped round out the show. It just wouldn’t be a Chesney concert without that title track and of course, “The Good Stuff.”

Fans will argue that everything about this concert had the makings of “the good stuff,” including Chesney’s opening acts. Uncle Kracker, although not the typical country artist, was welcomed by the friendly small-town crowed and his upbeat, danceable tunes certainly warmed up the place, making an easy transition into Gretchen Wilson’s set. Wilson kept the party going with a rockin’ rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” as well as her own titles, “Redneck Woman,” and “I’m Here for the Party.”

It seemed as if every person in the Resch center was there for the party, and with live music from country powerhouse Kenny Chesney and his opening acts, dancing in the aisles, and of course, umbrella drinks, it was the hottest party this town has seen in a while.

- Jenny Agamaite