Friday, December 24, 2010

Concert Review: Garth Brooks

Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For the past week I had been kicking myself for neglecting to buy a ticket to one of Garth Brooks nine flood benefit concerts in Nashville (Which marked his first time performing in Nashville since 1998).  So when I found out that a friend had two Garth tickets up for grabs... I was, needless to say, one very happy country fan.

My concert buddy and I were late leaving for Nashville, due to circumstances beyond our control (Obviously I wouldn't keep Garth waiting if I could help it).  Thus, we missed the first three songs of his set.  But when Garth launched into a showstopping performance of my old favorite "Shameless," I quickly recovered from the disappointment of having missed "Papa Loved Mama."

As Garth performed his classic anthem of hope, "We Shall Be Free," the video screen displayed photos of Nashville flood workers in a tribute to the enduring spirit of Nashville.  Not long afterwards, the sound effect of crashing thunder announced that Garth was about to sing "The Thunder Rolls," and we in the crowd responded with a thunderous roar of our own.

And then it was time for the appearance of a special guest as country star Steve Wariner walked onstage with a guitar strapped on.

"Do you actually know how to play that thing?" Garth teased.

Steve responded by... smoking it.  The two pals then performed their toe-tapping hit duet "Longneck Bottle."  Garth complimented his cohort on his instrumental prowess, admitting that "I only carry the guitar to hide my gut."

But the talented Steve Wariner wasn't Garth's only special guest that night.  When Garth sang the opening lines of "In Another's Eyes," a beautiful blonde-haired woman ascended the stairs onto the stage, and a familiar voice filled the arena.  Thus began a passionate and romantic duet between Garth Brooks and his lovely wife, Trisha Yearwood.  After they had finished the song, the couple proudly announced that they had recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.  A spotlight was then shone on an elderly couple in the audience who were celebrating their fifty-ninth anniversary that night.

"Anyone who's been married six or more years is a hero in our eyes," Garth quipped.

Trisha Yearwood then took the stage for a performance of two of her best-loved hits, "She's In Love with the Boy" and "How Do I Live."  The audience sang along with every word, as they had with every song in Garth's set.  To be honest, I was nearly every bit as excited about Trisha's three-song set as I was about Garth's 23-song set.

When Garth returned to the spotlight, all he had to do was play the opening guitar chords to "Friends In Low Places" to elicit a deafening cheer from the crowd.  As he was performing his signature classic, he happened to notice one fan's bright pink sign which read "Hey Garth, I drove 14 hours - How about a guitar pick?"

Garth beckoned the young woman to come down to the stage.  After she made her way down from her seat, Garth handed, not a guitar pick, but his guitar.  In a loving gesture of fan appreciation, Garth gave that thrilled young woman a souvenir to cherish forever, not to mention an awesome story to go with it.

After performing "The Dance" and "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)," Garth concluded the show by doing his "housekeeping" - Reading the song requests written on the signs that the fans held, and then giving an acoustic performance of the desired tune.  Garth honored requests for "Learning to Live Again" and "Every Night It Rains," and then performed a cover of Dave Loggins' "Please Come to Boston."  He closed out the show with "Two Pina Coladas."

The mutual appreciation between Garth Brooks and his adoring fans was easy to see.  The audience sang along loudly to every word to every song (I think the two loudest ones were in the seats right next to me).  Garth's fans waited twelve long years to see him perform in Nashville, and after the spectacular show he put on that night, I think I can speak for all Garth fans when I say that we'll wait another twelve years if we have to!

In summary:  The show was awesome.