The American way

Redneck pride flowed as freely from country sensation Toby Keith’s fans on Saturday night at the Delta Center as American tax dollars do into the nation’s defense budget.

And while Keith’s performance proved to be as red, white and blue as expected-the entire performance was foreseeably pre-empted with a flag-waving rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by none other than American icon Elizabeth Smart-some patriotic moments shone brighter than others.

The night’s official opening act was Terri Clark. The chorus of one of Clark-fans favorite songs, “Size don’t matter anyway, girls lie too,” was propelled to the rafters by an intimidating choir of female attendees. Clark also played “The World Needs a Drink,” and commented on how surprised she was that this alcohol-related tune has been given more radio airtime in Utah than anywhere else.

When Clark and her band were done, a huge white screen was lowered over the front of the stage, obscuring the set. About 25 minutes later, when the lights were lowered, the white screen came to life and began playing a Ford Trucks commercial starring Toby Keith.

In this shameless Ford promotion, Keith recklessly drives his F-350 up to his favorite bar located out in the middle of a desert. When he finds that the door is locked, he gracefully destroys the building with a strategically placed chain and some good old Ford power. As the bar is reduced to rubble and the screen lifted, Keith and his band were revealed in the flesh. All 10 of the band members were spread around the set, a simulated bar complete with urinals and a whiskey selection.

The boozy performance that followed was complete with America-hyping and spur-jangling. Favorites like “Mexico” and “You Ain’t Much Fun” got the crowd singing and dancing, while Keith’s story-like rendition of “Weed With Willie” got patrons laughing. (The song describes an experience aboard Willie Nelson’s tour bus while on the road. Make the inference.)

Before long, Keith was done just having fun and he moved on to what has recently gained him much public recognition-his brand of patriotism.

Pyrotechnics and and cannon blasts of red, white and blue confetti heralded the start of “The Angry American.” On this piece, Toby refers to 9/11 and his support for America’s reaction to the events. He sang, “Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye/man, we lit up your world like the fourth of July.”

He also praised the voters who gave George W. Bush a second term as president, and the decibel level of the crowd’s response could have rivaled that of any Jazz game.

After an exhausting show covering booze and love, marijuana and God, patriotism and Mexico, true fans left satisfied, while curious newcomers left walking a little bit funny. Why? Well, because, as Keith says, “We’ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American way.”

[email protected]