Cole Swindell brings first headlining tour to NHBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader February 14. 2018 12:42PM
If you go...WHAT: Cole Swindell: reason to Drink Tour
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: SNHU Arena, 500 Elm St., Manchester
TICKETS: $29.75 to $49.75
INFO: ticketmaster.com; snhuarena.com
After years of opening for top country artists like Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney, Cole Swindell is headed out this week on his very first headlining tour.
Swindell’s Reason to Drink Tour rolls into New Hampshire with a stop Friday at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, where Swindell says he is looking forward to playing extended sets for bigger crowds.
“It’s going to be different, but I’ve been waiting for this,” said Swindell. “This is something I’ve dreamed of, but the pressure’s kind of on me now. It’s going to be fun to be out there.”
The tour, named for a track on a new album Swindell is expected to release sometime this year, also features rising country stars Chris Janson and Lauren Alaina.
“I couldn’t be more happy with this lineup,” said Swindell. “Chris puts on one of the best live shows I’ve seen out there, and Lauren’s one of my favorites. I just think it’s going to be a cool and a lot of fun.”
Swindell said he is looking forward to helping the careers of these young performers, similar to the way support he received from Bryan, Aldean and others helped propel him to the top of the country charts.
“To take other people out (on the road), honestly that’s a big part to me because I’ve had the opportunity to be out with some of the biggest acts,” he said. “So if I can help their career at all by bringing them in front of my fans, it means that much more to me.”
Opening for Kenny Chesney on his Big Revival Tour in 2015 gave Swindell the chance to live out one of his dreams.
“One of the coolest moments of my life was with Kenny Chesney,” said Swindell. “I got my start in college. My first show, I was so nervous, and the first song on my set list was ‘Don’t Happen Twice’ by Kenny Chesney. Years later we were out on a stadium show and I tell Kenny that story and he was like, ‘Man, you gotta get up and sing it with me sometime.’ So in Seattle in front of about 50,000 people, I got to sing ‘Don’t Happen Twice,’ the first song I ever sang in a show, with the guy that sang it.
“I’m getting choked up thinking about that. That’s one of those moments that you can’t ... I don’t know. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t lived it,” he said.
Swindell hopes to provide similar moments for his tour mates in the coming months.
“Without the support from everybody that I’ve gotten, I wouldn’t have been in the position to tell Kenny that story, to live that moment,” said Swindell. “I hope one day I have a song that some kid played when he was starting and I get to sing it with him. Because that moment, that’s what it’s all about. Kenny was in the position to do that. He did it, and I learned a lot from him.”
Swindell is probably best known for the song “You Should Be Here,” the debut single from and title track of Swindell’s 2016 sophomore album. The song became a No. 1, platinum-selling hit, and it has a strong connection to the New England area.
His father died in 2013, just before Swindell’s music career took off.
“We were at Gillette Stadium, and Luke Bryan sold it out,” said Swindell. “We were one of the openers. My song-writing partner, a guy named Ashley Gorley, was in the parking lot on the back of the bus before the concert. It really came from a text that his daughter and he were exchanging when he was taking a picture of the concert, saying “You should be here,” because she loves music. When he said the name, all I could say was, ‘Please let me write that with you.’
“That’s what I love about country music, that’s what I love about songwriters, is being able to put out those words, those feelings,” he said. “From the first lyric and note of the song, it’s got that feeling about it.”
Swindell views the headlining tour as the next step in his career.
“It’s time for me to build my fan base one year at a time and one tour at a time, and one day I want to be back in those arenas and those amphitheaters and stadiums that I’ve played in the first four years, and I want to be the main guy in there,” he said. “I got a lot of work to do, but this is our first step.”