Country, country, and more country! That was the order of the day on Thursday when Toby Keith’s Interstates and Tailgates Tour rolled into Toronto. And despite the traffic restrictions around the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, and the rain that kept trying to disrupt things, this show kept rolling.
Paslay started things off with an excellent piece of work to a half full venue. Unfortunately, due to road closures to accommodate the Toronto Molson Indy (City of Toronto should be ashamed of this poor planning) many of the fans were still filing in for some time after Paslay’s set. Too bad, because Eric was damn good and I really enjoyed his show. (Note: unfortunately we were unable to secure photo access for Eric). He’s a Grammy nominated singer and songwriter and I wish that more of Toronto had been able to see him play. Well done Eric!
Next up, and greeted by a partisan crowd, was Canadian, Dallas Smith. Ripping into Wasting Gas, Dallas wasted no time in getting things cranked up a little more. I covered one of his shows last summer which was fantastic, but I can tell you, this guy has really lifted his game. Hot off a killer show at Gone Country (Rock The Park) in London the day before, Smith and his band nailed a killer set in what was their first time playing to the Molson Amphitheatre. The crowd was really feeding off what Dallas was offering, and they finished his lines for him as they sang along. They were just loving him. His banjo man, Matt Rose is one wicked dude on the 5 string, and Darren Savard lays down some great guitar work with his left-handed style. You could see Dallas really enjoying the crowd’s energy and this was a sweet way to fill out the nights bill.
When it was time for our headliner, we were treated to an entertaining opening video. Really like a mini movie clip of Toby Keith backstage and telling some stories from the road. That’s all I will say about it. Don’t want to spoil it for anyone going to upcoming shows. It was a good laugh. And then, Toby and his 11 piece band got the country rolling and kept it up for the rest of the night. His band included a 3 piece horn section to fill out the sound and they all sounded tight!
All the hits were played on this night: Red Solo Cup, Who’s Your Daddy, my favourite As Good As I Once Was, and of course, Beer For My Horses (complete with Willie Nelson singing his part on sampled tracks and video screen). It was pretty much a good ol’ beer drinkin’ country music stompin’ good time. Keith always made sure he had a full red solo cup of his own on stage, which he used to great effect as he made several toasts on the evening. First up was to Toronto Fire Dept, then Toronto Police. Next the Canadian military and then their families. But it was just a bit later when Toby honoured the late great Merle Haggard with a 7 minute medley of Haggard tunes. And that brought the biggest toast of the evening. What a great job in honouring the truly iconic country artist. He just keep bringing out the hits, and during Should Have Been A Cowboy, he tossed his mic into the front row for a fan to sing a bit.
This was a solid night of country music. Many thanks to Toby Keith and his team at Shock Ink for having us out, as well as the team at Red Umbrella PR for our Dallas Smith access. This was another great Live Nation Ontario show in a long list of many and we were happy to be a part of it.
More Photos From The Show:
Scott Burns / Scott Burns Images / Sound Check Entertainment