Toby Keith Closes 2015 Country Jam With Powerful Set of Hits, Tribute to His Father
Toby Keith closed 2015 Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo. with a nearly two-hour set that included hits spanning his entire career. The night served as a musical resume for why Keith was chosen to be inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame this week.
The star was as energetic as ever, seemingly invigorated by his recent honor. This wasn't a man simply singing hit after hit after hit — this was one of country's best performers doing all he could to fire up the tens of thousands of fans who waited four days to see him. The set began with a curveball. "Haven't Had a Drink All Day" was never a radio single, but it did the job of bringing a crush of fans as close as they could get. Five country-rockers followed before Keith finally took a breath and introduced two older hits, added at the urging of the Easy Money Band.
Keith predictably gets a big response when he asks fans to cheer for local firefighters, police and rescue crews before "Beer for My Horses." "I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again" also garners a big response, especially in Colorado, where marijuana is legal. No one complained about the lack of ballads. "Red Solo Cup" rolled into "Who's Your Daddy?" which poured into "I Love This Bar." "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" was added as a favor to a fan, but quickly after he returned with more enthusiasm than ever on "Should've Been a Cowboy" and "How Do You Like Me Now?" Each song seemed to be an extended version, which pushed the show well past the expected 10PM end time. Few left.
There was but one cover, Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold." The singer performed it like he wrote it, growling through the famous chorus as guitars and the thunder of drums swirled around him. It was a cover one felt through the chest, and it slowed down just enough to make the transition to back into "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" a little more comfortable.
Finally, he approached his encore. Surely he wouldn't leave without performing "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" right? Much like he did a week earlier during Taste of Country Festival in Hunter, N.Y., Keith began with "American Soldier" dedicating it to his late father, an Army veteran.
The final song was a fiery version of his hit from 2002. Fans shouting "U.S.A." brought him back to the stage — there was no shortage of America's colors on this night, or throughout the entire four-day camping and country music festival. Members of the Colorado National Guard joined him during the final song, and each received a big embrace from Keith as the walked proudly off the stage.
Keith's set ends 2015 Country Jam, a Colorado party that included headlining sets from Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and the Band Perry, as well as over two dozen other acts. The first headliner for 2016 Country Jam was also announced over the weekend: Brad Paisley will take the stage during next year's four-day festival, June 16-19, 2016.
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