Going to a Toby Keith concert is like having a few beers (and shots of tequila, and maybe a little bit of Willie Nelson's weed) with an old buddy you only see a year.
Yeah, they'll be some new topics to discuss as you catch up with the latest happenings in each others lives, but mostly you'll talk about the same old stuff, and when its over you'll have had a fun and familiar time.
Friday night Keith and fellow big, burly, ex-oil-rigging, ex-football playing, baritone Trace Adkins opened up the Blossom pop concert season with a near sell-out crowd that was quite happy to party with their old buddy, the Big Dog Daddy, and his Toughest Tour.
Despite the local weather folks gleeful weeklong predictions of torrential downpours, most fans didn't seem to concerned with the threat as short skirts, short shorts sandals and flip-flops were everywhere, with fans seemingly having faith that Mother Nature is a country music fan.
Their faith was well placed as the forecasted rain never came, though there was plenty of muddy ground through which to trudge.
Keith kept up his end of the bargain with a show that followed the basic blueprint he has been using for the past several years, opening the show humorous short film starring Keith, a talking bulldog and a Ford F-150. This year's lengthy edition featured a "contest" between Keith and fictional bands--with names such as Fistful of Guts and the Jehova Brothers--for the title of "America's Toughest Tour" sponsored by Ford, of course.
Also, per usual, a part of Ford truck was embedded in in the middle of the stage, this years edition featuring the bed of a F-150 with working taillights . There was pryo, there was confetti, there was group toast to the men and women of the armed forces, firefighters and law enforcement and a set list designed to get people partying which they were more than ready to do.
The Blossom show was only the second on the tour and Keith wearing jeans, a black button down shirt and requisite cowboy hat was in high spirits as he and his 10 piece band (including bass playing Massillon native Chuck Goff) ran through many of his hits including a dust-kicking set opening Big Dog Daddy, Hottie, and a rollicking Let's Get Drunk and Be Somebody that had folks line-dancing in the aisles.
Though he is several years removed from the controversy of Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, Keith is bit of a maverick in the country genre, flouting the general rule of thumb to keep your banter family friendly when outside of a bar. Keith dropped a several ``SÂ´Â´ and a few ``FÂ´ Bombs throughout the show and extolled his desire for a sisterly menage-trois at the end of I'm Just Talkin' Bout Tonight, none of which seemed to bother the crowd much. He played a few recent singles including the title track from his latest album That Don't Make Me A Bad Guy, and God Love Her and old concert favorites including the sing-a-longs Weed With Willie and Should Have Been A Cowboy.
Keith ended the show with a few of his patriotic tunes including American Soldier sending fans home satiated for another year.
Opener Trace Adkins, stated early in his set that ``we ain't gonna mess aroundÂ´Â´ and he did not, keeping fans on their feet for much of his 50 minutes onstage.
The setlist fed the party-hearty vibe Keith favors, highlighting Adkins popular uptempo and novelty tunes such as Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, I Got My Game On and the funny honky-tonkin' "ecomonic stimulus plan " Marry For Money. As promised, Adkins only performed two ballads the recent single Your Gonna Miss This and the gospel fueled Muddy Water featuring a small gospel vocal group and an impassioned and animated vocal from Adkins that surpassed the recorded version. Adkins ended his set with a surprisingly rocking arrangement of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground that saw Adkins reaching into both the upper and lower registers of his range and gave his his septet some room to to jam.
Fans may not get to many surprises at a Toby Keith concert and after you've seen him a few times it becomes fairly easy to predict the flow of songs and moods., But just as with that old drinkin' buddy, just because you've seen and heard it all before don't mean it ain't fun.