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Nasty weather doesn't stop Toby Keith from putting on a good show at WE Fest

Toby Keith played some good old drinking songs during his WE Fest performance Friday night. Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Toby Keith loves to party, so he wasn't going to let some bad weather keep him from knocking a few back with an old friend.

The singer made his eighth appearance at WE Fest Friday, good enough for second most appearances at the event behind John Anderson and Sawyer Brown. And nothing was keeping him from the events 30th birthday bash.

Though about an hour and a half late because of massive storms that whipped through west-central Minnesota, Keith brought the party, even if not all of the invited made it. Many of the VIP seats were empty and the general admission crowd was smaller for Keith than Jason Aldean Thursday night, a likely result of the bad weather that forced most out of the concert area around 7:45 p.m.

After a shortened, 45-minute set by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Keith took the stage a few minutes after midnight to "American Ride," looking trim and fit and working the stage from side to side. This set fans at ease that may have worried about his gallbladder surgery earlier this week that forced him to cancel a show on Thursday.

But Keith isn't necessarily known for putting on theatrical or energetic shows and once he strapped on his guitar he never roamed too far from his microphone. This is fine, because that's what he is known for - his singing.

Keith has one of the most identifiable and rich voices in American music and when you hear his range on something like "I Wanna Talk About Me," you wonder how he would do on Broadway, or at least an episode of "Glee."

That said, his material isn't necessarily family friendly. As he illustrated Friday night, he's best when talking about picking girls up ("Who's Your Daddy," "Get Out of my Car") knocking down drinks ("Get Drunk and be Somebody," "Beers Ago") or knocking down drinks while trying to pick up girls ("I Like Girls that Drink Beer," "Whiskey Girl," "As Good as I Once Was").

The real revelation Friday night wasn't Keith, but his horn section. I've seen the singer three times and never did I notice the trio. Friday night you couldn't help but notice them as they added and extra level and complexity to "Whiskey Girl" and particularly the cover of Ted Nugent's "Strangle Hold."

Of course, Keith is also known for patriotic tunes, and just as he opened up with two songs about America, he closed with two salutes to the troops: "American Soldier" and "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)."

Bookending the show with the American numbers nicely bookends what is great about America and WE Fest: Beer, babes and beer-drinking babes.