Columbus, OH, Germain Amphitheater, July 15, 2005


Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Whether one likes Toby Keith or not, whether one wants to agree with is political views or not or whether one wants to talk about his bout with The Dixie Chicks or not, one object of little discussion is Toby Keith knows his fans. And he knows how to get them riled up in a split second.

 

From the moment Toby Keith emerged on the stage and strapped on his black acoustic guitar, just about everyone was ready for the ride. With is signature honky-tonk voice and rugged exterior, Keith draws a crowd like a flame draws moths. During his 12 years and 12 records, Toby Keith has yet to stray from his roots, and his "love me or leave me" attitude may not be liked by some, but those taking his country ride wouldn't have him any other way.

 

In town to support his latest release, Honkytonk University, Keith was able to brilliantly mesh his older hits with the new material and left fans feeling more satisfied than his signature bulldog after a meal of raw meat.

 

Although Keith does have songs from early in his career with stereotypical country names such as "Big Ol' Truck" and "She Ran Away With A Rodeo Clown," on his fourth record, Keith did a rare crossover almost unheard of at the time and sang "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" with Sting. It was then that Keith pulled himself away from the middle of the pack and became the lead dog of a sled packed with newcomers.

 

Although Keith has been hitting Columbus just about every year on his tour and has his signature 5-minute movie to open the show (which always stars his pooch and Ford truck over himself), Keith and company are still able to provide enough fresh material and stage set-ups to keep the near sold-out crowds as happy as pigs in mud on a hot, muggy Ohio summer day.

 

Keith always has been and still remains a true cowboy to his fans. Whether one wants to agree with his "kill 'em all" attitude or not, whether one likes his stance on America or not or whether one thinks his style of music has no merit or not means about as much to Keith as a penny in the US deficit. Keith remains true to himself and his fans, and if anything, needs to be respected for not following the pack, but leading his own march down a path created by those before him, such as Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.

Toby Keith
Toby Keith
Toby Keith
Toby Keith
Toby Keith
Toby Keith