INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- When you're the Big Dog Daddy, Mother Nature better have more than torrential rain, hail, thunder and lightning to throw at you.
And so it was that country star Toby Keith, supporting his chart-topping new album "Big Dog Daddy," flipped a genial bird to the elements on Thursday (July 5th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, the first of what is the venue's only two-night stand for the 2007 season. Though a power failure following an early evening storm held the show up for more than two hours, Keith and his 10-piece band cut no corners in their pyrotechnic-laden assault, which rocked the reported 14,000 fans -- including Detroit Tigers Sean Casey and Nate Robertson and Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer -- past midnight at a venue whose regular curfew is 11 p.m.
The weather did claim a couple victims. Opening act Flynville Train -- whose guitarist, Brent Flynn, was celebrating its birthday -- was forced to ditch its set. And middle act Miranda Lambert had to cut her performance in half. But Keith, sporting his traditional white cowboy hat and saluting "Detroit rock city on redneck night," rewarded the crowd's patience (and, it should be noted, good behavior) with an exuberant 100-plus minutes of hits and new material, plus some choice covers like Ringo Starr's "No No Song," the Sanford/Townsend Band's "Smoke From a Distant Fire" and even a bit of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" laced into "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action."
Amdist the fireworks and confetti drops, Keith injected Detroit and Michigan references into the show whenever he could (i.e. often) and scored points with the Motor City crowd by opening the show with a short "film" designed mostly to promote Ford's F-150 pickup trucks (Keith's a spokesman) and playing in front of an oversized Ford truck grill that was part of the drum riser. He blended rock energy with Bubba-style Southern charm, including some sly come-ons to the ladies, but mostly won the night with muscular performances of favorites such as "Honky Tonk U," "Whiskey Girl," "Should've Been a Cowboy," "Get Drunk and Be Somebody," "I Love This Bar," "As Good As I Once Was" and "Beer For My Horses," with Willie Nelson performing his duet part via video.
Keith slowed things down for the new "Love Me if You Can" and "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This," and he performed "Runnin' Block" -- which he introduced as a favorite of U.S. troops during his USO visits to Iran and Afghanistan -- in an unplugged, acoustic arrangement.
Keith and company do it again -- hopefully without a rain delay -- at 7:30 p.m. Friday (July 6th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $72.50 pavilion, $37.27 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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