Garth Brooks Live at Bridgestone Arena

Pierce Greenberg | December 20th, 2010

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.

Setlist

“Rodeo”
“Papa Loved Mama”
“Beaches of Cheyenne”
“Two of a Kind (Workin’ On a Full House)”
“Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”
“Shameless”
“Unanswered Prayers”
“Tomorrow Never Comes”
“We Shall Be Free”
“Thunder Rolls”
“Long Neck Bottle (w/ Steve Wariner)”
“More Than A Memory”
“Callin’ Baton Rouge”
“The River”
“That Summer”
“In Another’s Eyes (w/ Trisha Yearwood)”
“She’s In Love With the Boy (TY)”
“How Do I (TY)”
“Friends In Low Places”
“The Dance”

Encore
“Ain’t Goin Down Til The Sun Goes Up”

Encore 2
“Two Pina Coladas”
“When You Come Back To Me Again”
“Beer Run/Hard Luck Woman”
“Red Strokes”
“Belleau Wood”
“American Pie”

  1. bll
    December 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Man I wish I could have gotten tickets. Hopefully I’ll still be around once he tours again.

  2. J.R. Journey
    December 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    It’s great to hear Garth’s self-imposed exile hasn’t taken away much of his natural charisma or showmanship. I’m seriously thinking of taking a trip to Vegas in 2011 to catch his show at the Wynn. I’ve yet to see Garth Brooks in concert, and 2014 is too long to wait.

    Thanks for an excellent recap. This is the best review I’ve read of these shows yet – and there are dozens floating around online.

  3. GLY
    December 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    SEEN GARTH’S 4TH CONCERT FOR FLOOD RELIEF ON SUNDAY DEC 19. IT WAS AWESOME!!! IT WAS WORTH FIGHTING THE TRAFFIC AND THE CROWD TO GET TO SEE HIM PERFORM. I THINK IT SAYS EVERYTHING ABOUT THE MAN THAT HE WOULD DONATE SO MUCH OF HIS TIME TO THE RELIEF EFFORT. HIS PERFORMANCE WAS GREAT AND IF HE WAS FAKING THE ENTHUSIASM AND ADMIRATION OF THE FANS IT CERTAINLY DID NOT SHOW. HIS SHOCK AND AWE WAS SPECTACULAR !!!!!

  4. Alison
    December 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I am so jealous! I’ve wanted to see Garth for years. I’m hoping to get tickets to see him at the Wynn but it’s not looking very good- sold out shows left and right. It’s like the ’90’s all over again. Here’s to hoping.

  5. idlewildsouth
    December 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I saw him last night (Sun) and was very very impressed. I actually told my sister “I believe in country music again”. I like the fact that the set list varied. I assumed it was all pretty much the same show every night, but it looks like he changed it up from show to show. He actually saved “We Shall Be Free” for the encore, which he started with his guitar and was joined by his band. In the second encore, the first song he did was “Turn The Page” and he went on to do “Which One Of Them” a verse and chorus of “Please Come To Boston”. The last few he did were “Alabama Clay” and he had Stephanie Davis sing “The Wolves”, which he had to beg her to sing it because, as he said “seriously, please sing it…my voice is shot.”

  6. KatieLynn
    December 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    My Fiance and I are going to see him Wednesday night at 9…His last Show!!! We live in East Tennessee, just outside the smokies. I tried , and tried and TRIED to get some tickets…with no luck , and somehow by the grace of god I won a pair earlier this week!!!! I was too young to see him, and then he retired…so I’ve been waiting over 10 years for this, I seriously might cry…and the fiance may disown me…don’t care, can’t wait!!! lol

  7. Ben Foster
    December 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I always love reading Pierce’s show recaps. I wish I had been there!

  8. Noeller
    December 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I’m praying to every non-spiritual entity possible that it’ll be this same show once he gets back on the tour trail in a few years. Just ONE MORE world tour with some stops north of the 49th, and I’ll find a way to get there. Sounds like it was a hell of a time — thanks for the recap!

  9. DHH
    December 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Love that he’s playing “Please come to Boston” and “Turn the Page” again. I remember him singing those in the 80’s – surely can’t be any better now than they were back then just “pickin'”.

  10. Byron Boyd
    March 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I said to the group I went with – Its a great show – IF you buy into his schtick that he can’t believe we all showed up and knew his tunes – other than that – it’s a lot more show than dough. But he does have an incredible catalog of hits and mostly songs that others were afraid to cut.

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