Toby Keith is arguably – although there really is no argument here – country music’s most outwardly patriotic singer-songwriter and champion of the military.
Before Keith made his way onto the stage at Northern Quest on Tuesday night in a cream-colored cowboy hat, white button-up shirt and light blue jeans, a video played at 8:30 with a montage of images of Keith visiting members of the military. At the end of the video was the following statement: 25 years of giving thanks to those who served.
Keith loves his country – his America – and his “That’s Country Bro” tour stop also was a reminder that he adores women, cowboys and beer. Keith performed with guitar in hand, after the first song ended, for the rest of the concert, and his fans stood and danced during the sold-out show despite the heat and smoky air from wildfires.
“That’s Country Bro,” Keith’s newest single that he also uses for this tour’s name, was one of the only noteworthy new songs of the night, as this tour is a celebration of Keith’s biggest hits from the 1990s to now, singles including “I Wanna Talk About Me,” “Beer for My Horses” (during which a video featuring Willie Nelson was played), “As Good As I Once Was,” “I Love This Bar,” “How Do You Like Me Now?” and “Red Solo Cup.”
Speaking of the party beer-holder staple, Keith toasted the audience with his red Solo cup – did you know that they are made of thick, molded polystyrene? – throughout the evening, as it sits halfway up his microphone stand. The subjects of his “Saluds” included firefighters, police, “the boys and girls who wear uniforms” and their families. Keith boomed, “Raise it high for whiskey for my men,” before starting “Beer for My Horses.”
Keith paid tribute to “American legend” the 89-year-old actor Clint Eastwood. The men worked on Eastwood’s recent film “The Mule,” for which Keith’s song “Don’t Let the Old Man In” was featured. A video created by Eastwood was shown while Keith performed the song.
Keith’s first words of the night: “What the hell’s goin’ on, Spokane?” “I feel the need to play some redneck songs” was Keith’s introduction before launching into “As Good As I Once Was” and “I Love This Bar.” Then before his encore: “Thank you all for listening – Godspeed.”
And at the end of the two-hour concert, after his two-song encore of “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” Keith had the following message for his fans, who are called Warriors, before his final salute to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard: “Don’t ever apologize for your patriotism.”
Up-and-coming singer Matt Stell, who stands at 6-foot-7, served as Keith’s opening act. The crowd was appreciative of the short set by Stell, who also performed in the Next From Nashville tent at the Watershed Camping & Country Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater in George on Saturday night.
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