Written by Dave Clements
Sep 08, 2012 at 07:00 PM
ImageOne of Oklahoma’s finest cowboys  Toby Keith all but rode into The Woodlands on his horse (or was it a Ford F-250 Truck?), bandana under his straw hat, to serenade the nearly sold out house, Yee Haw …Country Style, Red Cup in hand.

As the sun set he came up and hit on all the important subjects that C&W has to offer……winners, losers, smokers, boozers, yuppies, bikers, thirsty hitchhikers, girls next door, movie stars, cowboys, truckers, broken hearted fools, suckers, hustlers, fighters, early birds, all nighters, veterans, short skirts, high-techs, blue collar boys and rednecks, lovers, lookers, dancing girls and hookers…..did we miss anything? Yep, probably….did I mention momma, prison, and trains and, of course,  Ford Tough Trucks?
I’ll get back to Toby in a minute.

ImageThomas Rhett, opened the show and he came out with his A game going, as he had obviously seen what was to follow on stage after him.  He knew that if he didn’t want to pale badly by comparison he was going to have to hit it hard.  To his credit, at only 22 yrs. old, he came across as very seasoned,   impressive to me and I think to most of the early crowd in attendance.  It probably didn’t hurt that he has a daddy in country music. Rhett Atkins, who had a #1 hit in the 90’s with ‘Don’t Get Me Started’ and has written #1 hits for country artists Joe Nichols, Josh Turner, and Blake Shelton.  Good genes and a good role model never hurt anyone!

Brantley Gilbert, 27 year old Georgia native, was the next Toby Keith opener…I think, and he absolutely lit ‘em up!  I say I think as it wasn’t obvious to me that anyone held back anything for Toby when Gilbert  hit the stage.  No doubt that a huge part of the crowd was here to see Brantley, and Toby Keith would just be an added bonus.   I had not seen Brantley Gilbert before and it didn’t take long to see that he has a lot going for him. I already knew he was an excellent songwriter having written the hits ‘Dirt Road Anthem’  and ‘My Kinda Party’ for  Mr. Jason Aldean.   That’s impressive in it’s own right.   Then, on his own resume, he has already charted a couple songs on country radio – ‘Country Must Be Country Wide’ and ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do’.  Gilbert is a firecracker that keeps exploding, time after time, all set long.

To best describe him think one part Lynyrd Skynyrd, one part Keith Urban, one part Kidd Rock, one part Red Hot Chili Peppers, one part Hank Jr., one part Hank III, and one part Eminem, and don’t forget to throw in a little country somewhere in the equation…and you’ve got Brantley Gilbert.  Shame he ain’t from Texas – should get here as quick as he can!

Toby Keith, an Oklahoma Sooner Football fan, obviously not from Texas either but certainly Texas has been very kind to him.  There are large crowds every time he plays Rodeo Houston, and they were equally as supportive of him Saturday night.

ImageToby started the show with a cute video and with it kicked off his portion of the evening with a ‘let’s drink and party’ mood.

His stage setting was designed to resemble a saloon, and his mic stand was designed to hold a red cup that was evolved into more than a prop as the evening went on.  More on that Red Cup later…

ImageToby Keith is certainly not new to this game called Country Music, and his talent has produced a fair number of hits that he did perform on stage this night.  He sang ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’, Should’ve Been a Cowboy’, ‘Whiskey Girl’, ‘As Good As I Once Was’, ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’, and on and on.  All well done and all classic Toby Keith.

It was cute how he introduced one song by saying ‘I’ve talked about Thomas Rhett, wasn’t he good?  I’ve talked about Brantley Gilbert, I’ve talked about Texas, I’ve talked about The Woodlands, now … I WANNA TALK ABOUT ME! ME ME ME’.  This song has been good to him and was clearly a crowd favorite, with lots of singing along.
He also sang a song that is new but just more of the old familiar subject that is part of so many of his songs…Beer.  ‘I Like Girls That Drink Beer’ was accompanied by it’s own video and is Keith’s latest effort to go after the party goin’ Country fans.  Looked like it was still working pretty well .

Ole Willie got a lot of play time during the show as well.  ‘I’ll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again’, although never having had any air time on radio,  seemed well known by all the Toby Keith followers in the crowd. Most sang along to this tune.  And all sang along to the duet song Toby originally recorded with Willie, ‘Beer For My Horses’.  This was hands down this crowds favorite.  Willie, of course, IS from Texas!

The low point of the evening for me was when Keith was about to start one of his more meaningful songs of late and  …Roger ‘The Rocket’ Clemens came out dragging several buddies with him and presented Toby with a Red Solo Cup.  This was obviously an intro to the song Toby was about to play. I’m a big Roger Clemens fan, think he should be voted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame, glad he was found not guilt by Congress, thought that entire investigation was a major waste of tax payer’s dollars, and believe he should have just kept enjoying whatever libation he was drinking and stayed in his seat.  I know they’re buddies.  Toby went to Roger’s game the night before.  But come on guys…you killed it. Enough said.

Having said that, Toby did redeem himself with his choice of encore songs for the evening.  Fan or not, most people are aware that Toby Keith is a long time supporter of the military and has traveled to the Middle East to entertain our troops.  First ‘American Soldier’ and then ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue’ had this crowd standing proud.  Way to go Toby!  This partyin’ crowd was reminded beautifully of how and why they have the freedom to do just that.

Until next time hope you keep it between the navigational beacons.