Even though ticket prices were topping $100 for the best seats in the house, the 4000-member audience packing the South Okanagan Events Centre still got its money’s worth at the country music spectacular Saturday evening.
The evening was packed full of entertainment as the venue was with people, with performers ranging from fresh to established in the country music genre.
Kicking off the evening was a short set from newcomers One More Girl, the sister duo from Vancouver, performing songs from the first album, Big Sky, released in 2009. Following them, Canadian country star George Canyon took the stage for a hour-long set, with six albums to his name since 1996 giving him a solid reputation in the genre.
But Canyon’s achievements pale in comparison to headliner Toby Keith. At 49, the native Oklahoman is a veteran of country music, with 14 studio albums to his credit along with three compilations and two Christmas albums since breaking into the scene in 1993.
Ostensibly, this evening is a continuation of Keith’s American Ride tour, named for his 2009 album, but “the Big Dog Daddy” started his portion of the evening with Bullets in the Gun, the title song from his 2010 album, before launching into a pounding rendition of American Ride.
First, however, Keith treated the audience to a video introduction, amounting to a five-minute long commercial for tour sponsor Ford Trucks and starring Keith as a hero of the U.S. working class.
It was no surprise then that when Keith finally came on stage, he was rolled out in the back of an F-150 — as he has at concerts since at least September — before being handed a guitar to perform Bullets in the Gun sitting on the tailgate.
There was also lots of fireworks and explosions and videos backing up Keith, along with his band Easy Money. The light show was just a frill however, as the veteran performer clearly knows how to give his audience exactly what they want, with high-energy country rock, combined with Keith’s legendary U.S. patriotism.
Keith did tone down the patriotism — a little — for his north of the border audience, also giving a shout out to Canadian firefighters, police and soldiers during the 90-minute show.
According to figures from Global Spectrum, who manage the SOEC, about half the audience came from outside Penticton.
“Local motels that were contacted advised of being filled to capacity or near capacity,” the SOEC release said. “The Penticton Lakeside Resort and Casino indicated 130 rooms attributed to the concert.”