Review: Toby Keith show largely disappointing

Musician Toby Keith

Toby Keith – Photo by Ron Short

Another year, another Toby Keith concert. Quite frankly, not much has changed. While the superstar country singer can still work a crowd, from an originality standpoint he’s been severely lacking for the past few years.

The heavily inebriated majority of the crowd at Keith’s August 9 show probably didn’t notice the glaring similarity of last year’s show to this year’s. However, if you check out the two set lists online, there is very little variation in song order or choices. Given his nearly 60-single repertoire, which doesn’t even include the “Bus Songs” that’s rather disappointing.

On a positive note, Keith busted out a few old numbers like “Dream Walkin’” and “Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This” which pay homage to his original roots and were a welcomed change from the pop-type music he’s been producing lately.

Still, there’s no denying Keith’s a born entertainer. The fans love him from the first note to the last. Screams were heard when the lights went out and the entrance video began. Personally, this year’s entrance video reminded me of a Ford commercial. Keith performed his set for a crowd that certainly showed up ready to sing, dance and party.

Unfortunately for the non-heavy drinkers, the party was everywhere. It was impossible to walk through the crowd without stumbling into drunks or, even worse, being drenched with beer. While I’m all for having a drink and a good time, some people can’t control themselves. Sadly, this ruins the concert experience for everyone.

Kicking off the show was Toby’s daughter, Krystal Keith. Unfortunately it seems Krystal didn’t inherit the performer gene from her dad.  Krystal gave it her all but didn’t deliver a standout performance.

The concert progressed as a pretty run-of-the-mill standard Keith show, beginning with a comical Ford-Truck inspired video featuring a few celebrities. This year, Carrot Top was cast as a mob boss. About mid-way through the show, Keith performed the “Bus Songs” against a video backdrop of marijuana leaves. The set featured a tribute to fire fighters, police, EMTs, veterans and others that serve and protect, which was very moving but unchanged from last year’s.

Even the crowd interaction was reminiscent of last year’s.

Musician Colt Ford, a former professional golfer, performed during the middle slot of the show and was the best act of the night. A born entertainer, he had a great rapport with the crowd and even took selfies with the front row of the audience. While he might not be a household name just yet, chances are you’ve heard his songs including “Cold Beer” with Jamey Johnson, “She Likes to Ride in Trucks” with Craig Morgan, and possibly his biggest hit to date, “Drivin’ Around” with Jason Aldean.

While some acts get better with age, it seems Keith’s just becoming a dirty old man. His music went from being inspired by cowboys and love to waxing on about getting drunk and high. The man is talented and entertainment in his blood, but rather than focusing on his original inspirations, he’s catering more to the party crowd to his detriment.

Keith closed out the night with the standard encores of “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”, songs that are ten plus years old. While there’s no denying their popularity, it would be refreshing to hear something different. Also disappointing was that this year’s show lacked Keith’s usual confetti drop at the end of his set.

Perhaps Keith should take note of other artists who change things up by performing songs slower or faster, doing an acoustic set, performing covers or even mash ups; anything to spice up the show.
Review by Hayley Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges

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