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Stagecoach 2010: Toby Keith and the joys of restraint

April 26, 2010 | 10:30 am

Because Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith played Sunday night after the deadline for Monday Calendar's Stagecoach report, coverage of their performances is being blogged on Pop & Hiss:

TOBY_KEITH_LAT_STAGECOACH_6

The most impressive thing about Toby Keith’s festival-closing performance Sunday at Stagecoach was the fact that he took the time in the middle of the set to string together several contemplative songs on a night when most fans would have been happy to spend the whole time on their feet whooping and hollering along with the upbeat stuff.

Nuance isn’t a quality that gets a lot of attention in the waning hours of events like this.

But this Oklahoma tough guy has his sensitive side too, which makes some of his more blustery songs easier to swallow in context.

It helps, of course, when his reflective nature is directed toward such subjects as his favorite watering hole (“I Love This Bar”) or the yearning to have lived a more adventurous life (“Should’ve Been a Cowboy”) using imagery his audience can fully relate to.

He’s a good lyricist and as time goes by he’s found inventive ways to show it, one of the best being “As Good As I Once Was,” a self-deprecating look at a chronic bar brawler who realizes several years down the line that a lot of things about him ain’t what they used to be.

The way he’s going, Keith is on track to wind up better than he once was.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Toby Keith at Stagecoach. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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