From the moment the trucks pulled onto the stage and the pyrotechnics blasted off, Toby Keith had his legion of fans standing, clapping and dancing, as the country star took the crowd on a musical journey.
Playing both his latest hits, from the album, Bullets In My Gun (2010), to old classics like How Do You Like Me Now and As Good As I Once Was, Keith whipped the big, silver buckle and cowboy hat crowd into a frenzy of fun.
Combining his powerful singing voice with an amiable personality and quirky sense of humour, Keith managed to entertain the crowd on a variety of levels.
Country purists enjoyed his powerful ballads and hillbilly tunes, while others swayed and chuckled to his more rock-influenced songs.
Keith’s presentation was truly well-rounded, including a video presentation to start, plenty of audience interaction, explosions, streamers and music you can’t help but hum in your head hours later.
While a huge supporter of the U.S. military, Keith knew his audience well as he thanked Canada’s firefighters, police force and the military for all their sacrifices. When he sang his hit song Courtesy of the Red White and Blue, which is dedicated to the U.S. armed forces, he emphasized the words “red” and “white” as waving Canadian flags appeared on the video screen.
Keith is the perfect stereotype for a country singer – tall, big shouldered, bearded and looking for a good time – he gives the impression he’d be equally comfortable on stage singing before thousands, or sitting on a bar stool, drinking beer and chatting with friends.
Judging from the reaction of the modest crowd who came to see Keith at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre Sunday night, he could have done either and still received a standing ovation.
The long night of entertainment began with two opening acts. One More Girl, a pair of singing sister from Maple Ridge, opened the show. Carly and Britt McKillip were the perfect start as they helped settle the audience in with their fine vocals.
On stage next was Canadian country sensation George Canyon.
No stranger to Abbotsford, Canyon has played here many times, including opening for Alan Jackson last year.
Canyon has his own faithful following of fans who showed their appreciation for his talents as he set the stage for Keith’s performance.
Canyon almost stole the show when he performed Stompin’ Tom Connors classic, The Hockey Song, while wearing an Abbotsford Heat jersey and video highlights of the local AHL hockey squad scoring, hitting, and fighting played in the background.