There’s nothing quite like a Garth Brooks concert.
The energy, the sounds, the crowds and, of course, the man and his music. The reason why thousands of people are all there, screaming and singing along.
For my generation, there are only a few iconic performers who absolutely must be seen live. Garth Brooks is near, if not at, the top of that list.
For me, it was a 25-year wait to see the country music legend live in concert — perhaps for the final time — last Saturday when my wife and I went to his third of four shows at the Fargodome with a group of friends.
Regardless of if you’re a huge country music fan or just know his songs in passing, there’s no denying the man is a showman. At 54 years old, you’re afraid he’s going to have a heart attack the way he runs around the stage and mixes his energetic character into his musical performances.
I had been to a Garth Brooks concert when I was very young and shortly before he became a worldwide superstar, though I obviously don’t remember it well.
When I was 13, my family had tickets to one of the four sold-out Garth Brooks concerts at the Bismarck Civic Center. I was obviously excited and even though I was fighting the flu, told my parents I was going. Unfortunately, the illness got the best of me and, thanks to some nice security people, I ended up spending the concert sleeping on a couch in someone’s office in the bowels of the Civic Center so my family didn’t have to miss the show.
That tour ended up being one of the biggest in music history and came at the height of Garth’s fame. The Academy of Country Music has named him entertainer of the year six times. The Country Music Association has awarded him the same honor three times. One of those years was 1997, mostly because of the Garth Brooks World Tour that spanned three years and shattered concert tour records.
Needless to say, I was ready to finally see the man live in concert.
Sitting behind and to the right of the stage, we were obviously a little worried about the seats. Our friends told us not to worry. They’d been to a different concert on this version of Garth’s tour with his wife Trisha Yearwood.
Of course they were right. The show was second-to-none, with 2½ hours of music and an intimate encore acoustic set that changes every night.
One of the most touching moments in ours came as Garth sang one of his biggest hits, “The Dance.” During the song, he pointed the house cameras toward two people in the crowd who had signs for their mom, Joyce, who was a huge fan but had passed away. Their signs said “Thanks for Being a Part of Joyce’s Dance” and had a picture of Garth and Joyce together. Garth got choked up as he sang.
I get goosebumps again just writing about it.
Today’s country music stars should watch a Garth Brooks concert and take notes. Few artists today have the ability to mix poetry and gravitas in their songs and lyrics like Garth, who doesn’t write all of his songs but co-wrote many with a select group of songwriters over the years.
Unfortunately we’re listening to a generation of country music seemingly hellbent on being pop and hip-hop stars — something Garth Brooks, ironically, was accused of during his rise in the 1990s — and singing more about pretty girls, big trucks and drinking beer rather than than putting a little substance and meaning into their music.
I’ve been to those concerts too. They don’t hold a candle the legend that is Garth Brooks.
Keep on Ropin’ the Wind cowboy, and we’ll keep coming back to see you.