Toby Keith Hammer Down Tour featuring Kip Moore & Drake White Comcast Theater, Hartford, Connecticut Sunday, August 25, 2013
Long standing country veteran Toby Keith brought his Hammer Down Tour to Hartford, Connecticut this past Sunday and absolutely blew the roof off of the Comcast Theater. Joined by country music’s rising star, Kip Moore, and new-comer Drake White, Toby and company put forth one of the most energetic shows I’ve seen this summer.
I was unfortunately unable to get into the venue in time to see Drake White, but made my way into the pit just before Kip Moore took to the stage. A huge backdrop with Kip’s back and outstretched arms made for an impressive visual on stage. Kip appeared on stage with his patented backwards red trucker hat and cut off Rolling Stones t-shirt.
I had previously only seen Kip at smaller club like venues in New York City and was interested to see how he would adapt to a larger venue. Needless to say, he had absolutely no problem crossing over as he used every inch of the stage and T shaped catwalk, running, jumping, and sweating all over the place.
Kip mixed in tracks from his critically acclaimed “Up All Night” album, including #1 hits ‘Beer Money’, ‘Hey Pretty Girl’, and ‘Something ‘Bout A Truck’, with a few new impressive tracks off of an upcoming album set to be released in October. The highlight of his set came when he stripped down, sat on a stool, and performed a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Hey Pretty Girl’. All the couples in the sold out crowd wrapped their arms around each other and forgot about the otherwise party atmosphere that dominated the night. It shows the true appeal that Kip Moore has as he can touch upon all aspects of life through his lyrics and infectious delivery.
Kip Moore Setlist:
Crazy One More Time
What I Do
I’m Going Back On South
Unless Heaven’s Got A Dirt Road
Hey Pretty Girl
Something ‘Bout A Truck
I must admit I am a long time Toby Keith fan and have seen him live well over twenty-five times. But there was something different about Toby this time around. He changed up the setlist to make things a lot more modern (old staples such as ‘I’m Just Talkin’ Bout Tonight’ and ‘You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This’ were removed). And he seemed to genuinely be enjoying himself a lot more on that night as he was more active on stage and extremely demonstrative.
He came out to a non-single cut, “Haven’t Had A Drink All Day” and pumped right into a bombastic “American Ride” and then a passionate “Made In America”. He was strutting his stuff all over the stage and was very interactive with the crowd. In fact, I was in the pit with my good friend, Michael Wilcoxin, who just served our great country overseas in Kuwait. He was wearing his Army “Greens” and Toby instantly spotted him. In true Toby Keith fashion, he instantly came over to Mike, gave him a fist pump and even gave his guitar pick to him. But more on that in a minute …
The rest of Toby’s set included mostly high energy hits. ‘Beer For My Horses’, ‘Who’s Your Daddy’, ‘I Love This Bar’ and ‘Beers Ago’ were just some of the tracks that Toby chose from his extensive catalogue for this summer night. When it was time for ‘Red Solo Cup’, two enormous inflatable cups appeared on both sides of the stage and the entire crowd whipped out their own solo cups. Outside of the slower ‘Hope on the Rocks’, Toby kept up a party atmosphere that had everyone singing, smiling, and partying all night long.
However, anyone that has ever attended a Toby Keith show knows that the highlight of his set and of the night is the beautiful dedication he does for our troops and our country as his encore. “American Soldier” followed by “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” may be the best encore in country music, period. And on this night, he pulled my friend Mike as well as some other military members, and even a wounded warrior, on stage to help celebrate the USA.
Chants of USA as well as cheers and applause rained down upon the members of the military who were on stage with Toby. It really was a sight to behold as they instantly became the stars of the night. Toby even sent them out to the front of the catwalk to receive the ovation that they so deservedly have earned for their sacrifices to keep us free.
In the end, Toby showcased what he truly loves most: supporting our troops, loving our country, and getting people in the mood to party. As always, he nailed all three with his perfectly executed performance. His final words before he left the stage with the American Soldiers alongside him were “Never Apologize for Being Patriotic”. Toby, we never will.
Toby Keith’s Setlist:
Haven’t Had A Drink All Day
Made in America
Wanna Talk About Me
Ballad of Balad
Hope on the Rocks
God Love Her
Beer for My Horses
Weed with Willie
Get out of My Car
Red Solo Cup
Who’s Your Daddy
Ain’t As Good As I Once Was
I Love This Bar
How Do You Like Me Now
A Little Less Talk
Stranglehold (Ted Nugent Cover)
American Soldier (ENCORE)
Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (ENCORE)
VIDEOS OF THE VETERANS ON STAGE:
After the show, I was able to catch up with Kip Moore standing outside the entrance. He was gracious enough to allow a short discussion with me about his upcoming album. He stated he is actually hoping to finish up the final cuts for the project this coming Tuesday. He expects the next single to be out this October and hinted that it might be “Unless Heaven’s Got A Dirt Road”. He also guaranteed the new songs he played that night (see the above setlist) would be on the album along with a song called “New York City” which he is very excited about. Furthermore, after some prying he told me he expects the album to be released “on or around January 18th”. He was very humble during our conversation and seemed to be very excited about the new album. I expect a huge future for Kip Moore.
Dierks Bentley Locked & Reloaded Tour August 3, 2013 Hartford, Connecticut
Dierks Bentley may be an “opening act” on the current ‘Locked & Reloaded Tour’, but his performance in Hartford this past Saturday night had all of the makings of a head-liner mainstay. Following sets from Kix Brooks and newcomer Rae-Lynn, the tenacious Dierks took to the stage to an energetic version of “Am I The Only One” and instantly made sure he was not the only one there ready to party.
What followed was a perfectly conceived setlist that contained equal parts love, fun, memories and patriotism. Whether it was “Free & Easy” or “Every Mile A Memory”, you could tell Dierks sings songs about moments he has experienced and things that he loves. Nothing shows that more than he brand new single, “I Hold On”, which the crowd was lucky enough to hear before its release.
“I Hold On” tells a story about the truck his deceased father had given to him and despite all the years and wear and tear, he still holds on to it because “…she’s still here and now he’s gone”. The same goes for his guitar and despite its scratches and dents, he likes it better than a new one. The message is clear: life is not about things, but more about memories. I expect this single to be an enormous hit for Dierks, who seems to be one of the few in today’s country music to be consistent with the quality of music he puts out.
Another true highlight of Dierks’ set was when he and his band put forth an impressive rendition of “Up On The Ridge”, the title track from a previous bluegrass record he had released. The song starts with the band lined up next to each other perched on a raised stage with a gleaming forest and moon backdrop and finishing with the band jamming out at the front of the stage. It is the perfect song to showcase just how impressive Dierks’ entire band is as the jam out at the end of the song was as firey as the flames that appeared on the big screen.
Of course the ladies were not forgotten as Dierks proceeded to tell everyone on the lawn to get close to their significant other so that he could help them get lucky. He then serenaded the crowd with the sexy “Come A Little Closer” and followed it up with “Feel That Fire”. Both songs blended together nicely in the middle of an action packed set.
Dierks added in humorous comments throughout, brought a woman on stage to (poorly) play his guitar, and even signed a guitar and gave it to a concert goer in the pit. At times he was on his knees slapping five with fans and at other times he was catching air with his patented jump in place dance. He is a true entertainer who is happy, humble, talented and explosive from the beginning to end of each performance.
Dierks finished off his brilliant set with the beautiful “Home” which combines a sense of patriotism with a touch of self worth. It is constructed without a military or flag waving sense of love for America that is unique compared to many other patriotic-like songs. Nonetheless, shouts of USA resonated from the crowd and Dierks’ throaty delivery had the capcity crowd in the palm of his hand at show’s end. After hearing “I Hold On” and “Bourbon in Kentucky” (although it was not performed), I fully expect his soon to be released ‘Riser’ album to be everything one would expect from Dierks Bentley, a consistent and quality product.