FAIRLEA, W.Va. -- The Greenbrier Concert Series came in under par on the Fourth of July with what was probably the biggest concert event of the summer -- at least the single biggest in West Virginia.
It wasn't exactly a hole in one, however. It wasn't perfect and part of that had to do with the opening act, Lionel Richie.
Pairing the former pop sensation with country superstar Toby Keith might have made sense earlier in the spring after Richie released "Tuskegee," a collection of reworked country versions of his best known hits as duets with country stars like Shania Twain and Tim McGraw.
The record was warmly received, though his show Wednesday was about as country as a bottle of mineral water.
Richie stayed pretty close to the radio-hit originals, which was fine for a lot of people. Music from the '80s always plays well in West Virginia, and plenty of people in cowboy hats and boots sang along to "Hello" and "Dancing on the Ceiling," but there were plenty also staring at their shoes.
The 63-year-old pop and R&B singer turned in a decent performance. He sounded good, but most people came to see Toby Keith. They came for a big time country show, and they arrived in droves.
At a very rough estimate, the crowd might have been pushing somewhere around 10,000 or 15,000 people with Richie. It appeared to have doubled by the time Keith finished his first song.
Despite the size of the crowd, it was fairly orderly and friendly. Driving to the fairgrounds, getting in and out was, as expected, slow going, but not especially treacherous. There were a few drunks at the show, but with 12-ounce beers going for six bucks a can, getting and remaining drunk over a four-hour period would have gotten expensive.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time, though there was an odd moment of hostility between Richie and Keith's performances. Greenbrier owner Jim Justice came out to say thanks for all the support in making the PGA Tour and the concert series possible.
He also again responded to criticism he and the Greenbrier had received in the aftermath of the recent storm outages. Seemingly contradicting statements by AEP, Justice appeared to acknowledge that the Greenbrier might have received preferential treatment in having their power restored because of the PGA Tour but that he didn't have anything to do with that directly.
He also seemed to believe it was a good thing and that The Greenbrier having power for the PGA Tour probably sped the return of power to the surrounding area. He encouraged everyone to help those in need.