Toby Keith gets Locked and Loaded in Tampa

Toby Keith brought his ‘Locked and Loaded’ tour to Tampa, Florida on Friday, October 14th. It was his second to last U.S stop of the tour. He’ll be taking a few weeks off and then heading over to Europe to, “Show them how we do it American style.” The Tampa show was everything you’d expect from a Toby Keith show. There was the pit, where fans were able to be as close as possible to each performer and as for the other seats, well, there wasn’t an empty seat at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre and during Toby’s set, no one used their seat anyway.

The guest I took with me is not a country music fan but he bravely followed along anyway. From the beginning of Toby’s set, which was the introduction video, to the very last encore song, everyone stood. Opening with his 29th number one single, ‘Made In America,’ Toby kicked off the show in high gear. He got the fans up on the roof (well, for those in reserved seats) and kept them there for 90-minutes. During that first song, he showed video and pictures from around Tampa on the video screens. Toby never once slowed down with any of his songs. He cranked out hit after hit including, ‘Beer for My Horses,” “Whiskey Girl,” “Who’s Your Daddy,” “Little Less Talk, A lot more Action,” and “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” He even let his background singer, Mica Roberts take the mic with the band and sing “Lady Marmalade.”

Toby also played two more songs that will be on his upcoming album, out October 24th. “Clancy’s Tavern” is the title track on the album and from what Keith said, it’s this little bar from where he’d spend his summers with his grandmother who passed away earlier this year. Based on the new songs that I heard, this is going to be an amazing album. Toby also brought some humor to the night with songs like, “Weed with Willie.” He also sang the uncut version of “Red Solo Cup,” complete with dancers dressed in solo cup costumes and throwing cups out into the crowd.He said that this song was, “the stupidest song he ever wrote.”

Audience participation was called for when Toby threw his mic out into the audience twice and let two people sing the chorus to “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” For his encore, Toby came out and sang “American Soldier,” followed by bringing out a friend of us from Tampa who served in the military. He helped Toby sing, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” If there was one thing I learned from watching this show, it’s that Toby needs very little to keep the crowd on their feet and rocking. With the exception of a little smoke, some pyro and streamers, it was just him, the band and the crowd. Why this man doesn’t get more Entertainer of the Year nominations, I don’t know.

Eric Church played for almost an hour before Toby’s set, opening with “Creepin’,” which is the best song on his new album. I didn’t get to see much of Eric’s set since I got to meet Toby, but from the way the crowd sounded, he was pretty rockin’ himself.  JT Hodges was the first openeing act of the night, playing for about twenty minutes. He played his songs like, “Lonely,” “Green Eyes, Red Sunglasses,” and “Sleepy Little Town.” He is definitely one to watch. I predict big things to come from him as he put on an amazing performance.

I give the Locked and Loaded Tour four stars out of five – it’s a must see show for any country music fan.

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