Garth Brooks Live at Bridgestone Arena
As I settled into my seat at Garth Brooks’ third show in two nights on Dec. 17, a large woman disrupted the peace. She scooted past me, shivering with excitement.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this,” she yelped while touching my arm. “I might cry.”
An older lady seated next to me gaffed at the high volume of digital cameras in the crowd.
“The only pictures I need are going to be right in between here,” she said, touching her temples.
So, indeed the best-selling albums artist in the SoundScan era certainly has fans of all types, and in massive volumes. But Garth, apparently the founder of the Brooks School of Unwarranted Shock (of which Taylor Swift is a star alumna), had his mouth agape the whole evening.
Supposedly, it was stunning that crowds still knew every word to “oldies” like “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old” and “Friends In Low Places.”
Regardless of whether his shock was genuine or not, Garth still rode the energy of the crowd to deliver a powerful traditional set and, ironically, a surprising encore.
The show felt like a greatest hits package—but songs like “Beaches of Cheyenne,” “Papa Loved Mama,” and an acoustic version of “Unanswered Prayers” really only showed how a hit by Garth’s standards shatters the hits of today. Garth, while slightly overblown at times, channeled near-theatrical stage presence by draining all the emotion out of “Shameless” and “Thunder Rolls.”
The poor man needed a few breaks, and he got them when guests Steve Wariner and Trisha Yearwood took the stage. Wariner joined Garth on “Long Neck Bottle,” adding smooth vocals and blistering guitar playing. Yearwood came out on “In Another’s Eyes” and showcased her own material with “She’s In Love With The Boy” and “How Do I”—which was a dedication to the troops.
But it wasn’t Garth’s big hits with the full band that proved he still is an entertaining force. After his first encore of “Ain’t Goin Down Til The Sun Comes Up,” he returned to the stage to the loud clamoring of more than 18,000 fans.
For the next 20 minutes, he roamed the stage with his guitar, reading off homemade request signs that fans waved enthusiastically. He then picked his way through acoustic versions of “When You Come Back To Me Again,” “Red Strokes,” and “Beer Run.” He even delivered a stark, but strong version of “Belleau Wood” to a quartet of marines in the crowd.
Garth ended with “American Pie,” took his hat off and bowed one more time before disappearing into the underbelly of his elaborate stage set-up.
Earlier in the show, he said: “There’s nothing any better than being a dad, but if anything comes close, this would be it.” His youngest daughter is a freshman in high school, and when she graduates, Garth still maintains that he’ll be back on the road.
If his stint in Nashville teaches him anything, maybe Garth will be less surprised in 2014.
“Papa Loved Mama”
“Beaches of Cheyenne”
“Two of a Kind (Workin’ On a Full House)”
“Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”
“Tomorrow Never Comes”
“We Shall Be Free”
“Long Neck Bottle (w/ Steve Wariner)”
“More Than A Memory”
“Callin’ Baton Rouge”
“In Another’s Eyes (w/ Trisha Yearwood)”
“She’s In Love With the Boy (TY)”
“How Do I (TY)”
“Friends In Low Places”
“Ain’t Goin Down Til The Sun Goes Up”
“Two Pina Coladas”
“When You Come Back To Me Again”
“Beer Run/Hard Luck Woman”
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