If I’d had a bucket list when I was a young teenager, going to see Garth Brooks in concert would have been near the top. I was a big fan back then, and I knew every word to pretty much every song (he did have a few songs I hated–hello, The Fever–and therefore didn’t know the words). I used to put the kid I baby-sat down for her nap to the tune of Somewhere Other Than the Night (probably not the best song choice for a three-year-old). But I never got around the seeing the man in concert before he “retired.”
When I heard a few years ago that Garth was going to be playing shows in Vegas, I thought immediately I’d fly out there just to see him. That didn’t happen because I’m not a millionaire and tickets were hundreds of dollars.
But now he’s officially “unretired.” His last kid just graduated high school, so now he’s back at it. So I obviously had to get tickets to one of his opening shows in Chicago. (On a related note, I hate the process of buying concert tickets anymore. There’s too many robots set up to grab tickets, and you’re left with what you get. We were lucky to get pretty good seats, but it was for the second show of the evening that didn’t start until 10:30–that’s 11:30 Indiana time. We didn’t get to the hotel until about 3a.)
Garth went and got old. Not really old, old. But old enough that he can’t sprint around the stage and sing at the top of his lungs quite like his did when he quit some 13 years ago. Good news is that you could tell he wasn’t lip synching; he missed words because he was so out of breath. Occasionally, I wondered how much of his staring at the crowd in apparent awe was genuine and how much was because he needed to catch his breath. Ok, I’m being a little hard on him. I couldn’t do what he did–he put on a full-out, no holds barred concert. And it was awesome.
The beginning worried me that Chris Gaines was about to make an appearance because there was a lot of weird man vs machine stuff going on. Reminded me of a Schwarzenegger movie. I couldn’t understand a single word of what he said/sang. Luckily, that all ended with the first song. Then he launched into all the old favorites.
Unlike Cher, Garth didn’t do any costume changes. But he did keep switching his guitars. He had one guitar that was pretty plain and had a “B” marked on the lower side. At one point when he strapped that one on again for the umpteenth time, he said the crew called that one the “safe guitar.” Safe because it was never turned on. “I just use it to hide my gut!”
He owned the stage. So much didn’t change from the concerts that I’d watch on NBC. I don’t know why, but I remember they were on NBC. He also owned the fact that he’s slowed down just a hair. He was trying to catch his breath when he said, “Guys, I’m, like, 114 years old now. You gotta give me a break!”
His wife, Trisha Yearwood, who I think is hilarious and awesome came on stage in the middle of the show to sing a few songs and, I think, allow Garth to sit down for a minute. She didn’t stay on long enough because she didn’t get around to singing Walkaway Joe. Though, they apparently did this song on opening night.
At one point, about 90 minutes in, I turned to my sister and shouted that the only thing missing was the confetti (a reference to my recent awesome experience at an Ok Go concert). Less than two minutes later, confetti guns were going off. Seriously. They shot confetti and unfurled streamers all over the audience.
At the end, the band came out for an encore. To my dismay, they played the one song of his that I truly hate–hello again, The Fever. I was so disappointed to be leaving on a lame note. But then! Garth came back out by himself and took audience requests. Two of the songs he sang were She’s Every Woman and The Red Strokes. Two of my favorites.
I’m so glad I went. Check that off the bucket list that I don’t have!