Toby Keith nails it at the ‘Hammer Down’ tour
A review of Toby Keith at the Comcast Center on September 21, 2013
As part of his “Hammer Down” tour, Toby Keith returned to Massachusetts last Saturday for his annual summer ending party at the Comcast Center. Over the course of two-hours, the country music superstar delivered a crowd-pleasing performance that thrilled the adoring crowd.
Upon entering the Comcast Center, one couldn’t help but notice the all too familiar sounds of a summer country concert: drunk men announcing their intention to give speeches to anyone who would listen while waiting in line, girls hiding nips of Stoli Razz in their jeans, and the feeling that everyone there was looking to escape reality for a few hours. Keith played the role as party host perfectly, serving up a 21-song career-spanning set that proved Keith knows his crowd expects.
The native Oklahoman, wearing his customary black button down shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy hat and boots, provided the steak while the other performers provided all the fixins. The main set featured a noticeable up and down energy from Keith throughout, while his backing band, especially the horns section, kept things interesting. The set opened with “Haven’t Had a Drink All Day” which, somewhat surprisingly, made it look like Keith hadn’t had a drink all day – his energy and interest seemed flat, while his band and some well-placed pyrotechnics provided the spark. It was just the first of two songs he would perform from his latest album, Hope on the Rocks. The party really with “Made in America”, which featured Keith strumming a cheesy black Ford acoustic guitar but providing lots of momentum. Keith’s vocals shined at many points throughout the night, especially during “Hope on the Rocks” and “God Love Her”. The back to back songs featured his grizzly vocals standing out and showing what years of drinking whiskey and dipping Skoal can do to perfect the sound of strained vocal cords.
The show featured a mid-set celebration of marijuana, casual sex, and binge drinking with “Weed with Willie”, “Get Out of Your Clothes” and “Red Solo Cup”, centered by a creepy yet humorous spotlight on the three horns players gyrating and being sexually inappropriate throughout “Get Out of Your Clothes”. A gigantic inflatable red solo cup got the fans cheering – there’s no hope at the bottom of an aluminum $9.75 Budweiser bottle, but for a brief moment, Keith convinced you that there might be.
The highlight of the night came during crowd favorite “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”. While everyone else was distracted by the video of Clydesdales running around much like an old Marlboro Man commercial, Keith identified a man in the front row who had “been singing every word of this song for 10 years of shows”. The man, inevitably wearing an American flag t-shirt, was given the mic to sing the chorus from his seat, sending the crowd into an uproar and catapulting the band with a huge energy throughout the rest of the night.
The encore dripped of Americana, as the huge lead singer brought soldiers onto the stage to display the American flag and United States Marine Corps colors during “American Soldier”, which he dedicated to a family in attendance whose son is currently MIA, and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”.
Other than an excessive use of Ford product placement (you can’t have ‘Merica without a black pick-up truck!) and advertisements for Keith’s Foxboro bar I Love This Bar & Grill, the entire performance oozed of authenticity. A man that knows who he is and what the people came to see. Toby, you’re not as good as you once were, but you’re as good once as you were.
Kip Moore opened the show with a set comprised of hit singles “Hey Pretty Girl”, “Somethin ‘Bout a Truck” and “Beer Money”. His contrast to Keith’s style was a perfect compliment to a great night and was a great billing.
1. Haven’t Had a Drink All Day
2. American Ride
3. Made in America
4. Beers Ago
5. I Wanna Talk About Me
6. Whiskey Girl
7. Hope on the Rocks
8. God Love Her
9. Beer For My Horses
10. Drinks After Work
11. Weed With Willie
12. Get Out of My Car
13. Red Solo Cup
14. Who’s Your Daddy?
15. As Good As I Once Was
16. I Love This Bar
17. Should’ve Been a Cowboy
18. How Do You Like Me Know?
19. A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action
20. American Solider
21. Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue