Toby Keith marks 25th year with fairgrounds show

It seemed a bit ironic that this year’s finale concert at the Canfield fairgrounds — where alcohol is forbidden — was a near sellout for Toby Keith, the country music megastar who has gained much of his popularity singing songs like “Whiskey Girl,” “Beer for my Horses,” “I Love This Bar” and “Red Solo Cup.”

Of course, Keith performed each of those hits and more Monday night as part of his concert tour marking the silver anniversary of his first No. 1 single, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” with a throwback concert, of sorts.

More than 8,000 fans packed the fair grandstands on Labor Day to hear the popular patriotic performer belt out the song the concert tour was named for, along with many other chart toppers, some recognizable to only the truest Toby Keith fans.

Those songs included early hits, “Who’s That Man” (No. 1 in 1994); and ballads “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You” (No. 2 in 1996) and “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This” (No. 1 in 2000).

Aiming to please, Keith also performed other fan favorites like, “As Good As I Once Was,” “Who’s Your Daddy?,” “Talk About Me,” “God Love Her,” “American Ride” and “How Do You Like Me Now?”

As always, his trademark patriotic encore was comprised of “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” both which hit No. 1 in the early 2000s.

Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the personalized Youngstown State University football jersey that Keith held up during the show bore jersey number “1.”

“You got the right man for the job in coach Pelini,” Keith said from the stage.

A football-loving Oklahoma native, Keith also made it a point to give a shoutout to longtime Oklahoma Sooners head football coach Bob Stoops, a Youngstown native and Cardinal Mooney graduate. Keith added that he sometimes plays golf with Stoops.

Noting that he had been urged to “boogie, boogie, boogie,” due to the threat of storms coming, Keith took the stage promptly and 8 p.m., following country opening act, Craig Campbell. The inclement weather held off, though, and Keith did not disappoint his audience by performing for more than 90 minutes, uninterrupted by storms that struck other areas of Mahoning and Trumbull counties yet avoided Canfield.