HONORING AMERICA'S FINEST
On a deliciously cool, late summer evening Nissan Pavilion brought its concert season to a close with two of country music’s rough and ready artists Toby Keith and Trace Adkins.
Trace Adkins opened his performance with “I Got My Game On” and continued with other light-hearted songs like “Swing,” “Songs About Me,” “Marry for Money,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “One Hot Momma” and “Badonkadonk.” He shifted gears singing “You’re Gonna Miss This,” a very poignant song for those in the audience who recently sent their kids off to college. And then he sang “Arlington,” a personal favorite of mine with scenes of the nation’s famous cemetery on the big screen behind him reminding us of the high cost of freedom. Trace followed this song with another he admitted he seldom sang live but with the anniversary of 9/11 having occurred just the day before he said he wanted to send a message to the terrorists responsible for the suicide bombings and proceeded to sing, “Welcome to Hell.” Suffice it to say he got his message across.
Toby Keith took charge of the stage after Trace and continued to fire up the crowd as he began his set with his current single “American Ride,” a song that aims its cynicism at cultural trends. Toby sang hit after hit: “Talkin’ ‘Bout Tonight,” “Whiskey Girl,” “God Love Her,” “Talk About Me,” “Kiss Me Like This,” “Who’s Your Daddy,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “I Love This Bar,” and “Beer For My Horses,” to name a few.
In my opinion the highlight of the evening came when Toby returned for his encore performance with “American Soldier.” The lights were dimmed and the big screen revealed scenes of our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as Toby sang. Moments later military personnel began to enter the stage. Some were soldiers Toby and Trace met on tour in Iraq; others were patients they met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Some were disabled and some were home on furlough. They all received a standing ovation. It was a chance to thank our military for their service to our country.
After Toby gave one of the vets a shirt, the “Star Spangled Banner” was played and Toby launched into “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue.” Trace Adkins took over the microphone for a verse allowing Toby to hug the necks of several members of the military gathered behind him. It was a magical moment, one I felt honored to witness.