Last Night: Toby Keith at Cruzan Amphitheatre, September 4

Photo by Andrew Southam
Toby Keith

With Trace Adkins

Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The review:

All the fireworks, the patriotic flag-waving, and the macho chest-thumping that typically define a Toby Keith show were present and accounted for at the Cruzan Amphitheatre on Saturday night. There was the usual shoutout to the men and women in uniform -- a U.S. Marine handed Keith his guitar as the show began -- and the blatantly commercial positioning of a Ford pickup truck onstage during the intro.

And then halfway through his set, in a not-so-Toby moment, Keith broke into "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)," a somber tribute to his friend Wayman Tisdale, who died of cancer last year. The crowd wasn't exactly sure how to react at first to this one-song buzzkill, but soon many were moved to tears by the heartfelt lyrics and the poignant video footage of the former Oklahoma Sooners basketball standout.

The lighters went up as Keith sang about his close friend, whom he referred to as Brother Tiz. "He's the closest thing to Jesus I ever met in my whole life," Keith said, his voice nearly cracking at times as he spoke.

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Afterward, Keith switched gears, and suddenly the party was back on with "Who's Your Daddy?" and perennial favorite "As Good as I Once Was."

Keith, looking delightfully scruffy in a white shirt and cowboy hat,

kept the hoedown going for nearly two hours on a sweltering night with

dark clouds and lightning threatening in the distance. But luckily the

rain held off, unlike last year's midshow downpour.

His opening number, "Bullets in the Gun," is from a soon-to-be-released album. The hard-charging number transitioned easily to his hit "American Ride," which easily revved up the alcohol-fueled crowd.

Keith and his nine-member Easy Money Band stayed in high gear through such numbers as "I'm Just Talking About Tonight," "I Wanna Talk About Me, " "Trailerhood," and that ode to the working man, "Get Drunk and Be Somebody." He got the crowd swaying with "Weed with Willie" and had them toasting firefighters and law enforcement with "Beer for My Horses."

But his closing number, "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action," was convincing to no one, especially those in the crowd who came armed with full-sized American flags. They didn't have to wait long to start waving them, however. He gave them what they came for with his two brashly patriotic encores, "American Soldier" and "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," the latter of which united Keith with opening act Trace Adkins.

As the pyrotechnics faded and confetti fell on the audience, Keith flipped a bird in a final vulgar gesture to anyone who didn't care for his brand of jingoism. It was typical Keith: Less talk, more action.

The "American Ride Tour" owes a huge debt to Adkins, who put the pedal to the metal with his hourlong opening set. Clad in a black T-shirt and hat and some of the tightest blue jeans in country music, the long-haired Adkins opened with "Whoop a Man's Ass" off of his new album, Cowboy's Back in Town, which he recorded on Keith's newly formed record label.

He then veered back toward the mainstream with crowd pleasers like "Hillbilly Bone" and "Swing." He put on the brakes for a moment to thank the audience for its support in a sluggish economy. "The fact that you folks spent your good hard-earned money means a lot to us," he said and removed his hat, a huge show of respect in the country world.

There were other surprises as well. At one point, Adkins brought his daughter, Brianna, onstage so the crowd could sing happy birthday to her. He then sent her away so he could sing a song about her mama, he said, launching into "Hot Mama."

He also did a cover of the soulful Larry Graham love song "One in a Million You" that had several couples slow-dancing in the aisles. He followed with his own ballad "This Ain't No Love Song."

Adkins flexed his powerful bass vocals throughout, including on the bootylicious "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." He finished his set with a nicely executed cover of Foreigner's "Dirty White Boy," a song that was by then somehow quite appropriate.

Critic's Notebook

Better than: Getting rained on, as was the case last year.

Personal bias: My friend, a huge Adkins fan, was disappointed not to hear him sing "Arlington," a moving number that she believes would have been fitting given the show's patriotic theme.

Random detail: Saturday was also the birthday of Greg Hanna, the Canadian up-and-comer who opened for Atkins and Keith.

By the way: Many concertgoers got a chance to see a motorcycle parade that rolled into town for the show. Keith gave the bikers a shoutout from the stage.

Set list:

Bullets in the Gun

American Ride

I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight

Whiskey Girl

I Wanna Talk About Me

God Love Her

Get Drunk and Be Somebody

Somewhere Else


You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This

Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)

Who's Your Daddy?

As Good as I Once Was

I Love This Bar

Should've Been a Cowboy

Weed With Willie

Beer for My Horses

How Do You Like Me Now?!

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action


American Soldier

Courtesy of the Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)

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