Toby Keith performs in concert in Helsinki, Finland. (Shock Ink photo)
Oklahoma country music star Toby Keith wrapped his first European tour last week, adding another continent to his growing sphere of influence.
Standing-room-only fans packed into Bergen, Norway’s Vestlandshallen Arena Nov. 22 and heard the final encore of a two-week sold-out run that included nine shows in six countries. Anticipation for the tour was at fever pitch as tickets were gone well before Keith set foot on European soil.
“The accents are a little different and the food sure isn’t what you get in Oklahoma,” Keith said in a news release. “But they say music’s a universal language and the folks we saw sure seemed to be having a good time. And so did we. I’m already looking forward to the next one.”
Keith opened the tour in Glasgow, Scotland Nov. 9 before playing London’s Hammersmith Apollo (Nov. 10), Dublin’s Olympia Theater (Nov. 12), Belfast’s Odyssey Arena (Nov. 13) and jumping across the North Sea for shows in Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Oslo, Norway and, finally, Bergen.
Media coverage was extensive. Keith’s stop on the popular Swedish talk show “Skavlan” was one of the highest-rated episodes of the year. He was also the subject of cover stories or features appearing in the Irish News, Sunday World, Up Country, American, Irish Star, The Newsletter and more. And those are just the English language publications.
The energy inside and outside the venues was captured in a review of the Belfast show by the Ulster Star: “With Stetsons and cowboy boots everywhere you looked in the arena, it felt like you’d been transported to Texas rather than Belfast, and that was no bad thing as the country superstar thrilled the crowd.”
Keith was home from Europe in time to watch his Oklahoma Sooners whip my Oklahoma State Cowboys in Saturday’s Bedlam football game in Norman. But he will soon head back to Europe: He is set to perform Dec. 11 at the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
It’s been another hugely busy year for Keith: He played to capacity crowds on his domestic “America’s Toughest Tour,” his current single “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” is rapidly climbing the charts, and his last single, “American Ride,” the title track from the chart-topping album of the same name, went to No. 1.