In a last minute stroke of luck, I was able to procure tickets to see Garth Brooks on his opening night of his three night, four show stop in Salt Lake City. I was so excited because I didn’t think I was going to be able to see him. Tickets sold out in record time, and I didn’t get one. Well, fortune favored me because I did make it into the newly named Vivint Smart Home Arena (Formerly Energy Solutions Arena, formerly the Delta Center which is still pretty much what everyone still calls it. Maybe this new name will catch on.), to see the country music legend’s return to Utah after a 17 year absence.
My history with Garth goes back maybe 20 years or so. In high school I was not a country music fan. Not even close. I was a huge fan of alternative music. Now it’s probably called oldies, yikes. So while I was listening to Depeche Mode, Nirvana, The Cure, NIN, The Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Oingo Boingo, and others country music was far from my musical pallet, and I thought it to be uncool, and tough on the ears. Then I dated a girl who was a huge country fan. She was unapologetic about her love of country music, didn’t care if I liked it or not, and never asked me to try to like it. But being the devoted boyfriend, I wanted to try. So I borrowed her Garth Brooks tapes (Garth Brooks, No Fences, & Ropin’ the Wind). Yep, tapes. I listened to them with my walkman. Yep, walkman. I mean, come on, I wasn’t about to listen to them on my stereo. I didn’t want anyone to know I was giving this garbage a chance. So, I listened, and it didn’t do much for me. A couple songs sounded ok. I listened again, nothing. Then I gave it another try, and somehow, someway, “Friends in Low Places” got to me. It made me laugh, it pumped me up, and it broke the wall for me to allow country into my life. I may not like every country artist out there, but it is impossible for me to deny some of the talent that is in the industry. I kept my new love of Garth and country hidden to most besides this girlfriend, until one day, I finally had to reveal myself as a tried and true country fan.
I suppose due to my delayed appreciation for Garth, my penance was to have to wait for over two decades to finally see the man in person. But I’ll tell you all, it was worth the wait!
Now, I know I can get wordy in my reviews and they can go on, and on with the details about what I loved. But this review is not going to be much longer. It can’t be. There just are not very many words that can describe what it’s like to see Garth Brooks in concert. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. I’ll just say that he will take you from one extreme to the other with essentially the snap of a finger. It’s a huge rush, yet it gets reverent, it’s low down, gritty, raw, blue collar, white trash loving fun, then it gets to a point of spirituality that it almost feels like the heavens open up to watch a little of the show. You’re laughing, you’re crying, you’re screaming, then you are speechless with awe of what you are seeing and hearing. It really is amazing how broad the spectrum this show is. Garth goes from the coolest guy in the room, to the biggest nerdiest goofball in the place. And that’s why we love him. We elevate him to the lofty status of legend, yet we all feel like he is one of us. I don’t think there is anyone in the jam packed arena that doesn’t feel like they could simply hang out with the guy after the show and shoot the breeze about anything other than the epic event they just witnessed.
Garth made it a point to give the crowd what they wanted. He played all of his hits, told stories about the songs, and right in the middle of his show, he brought out his amazingly talented wife Trisha Yearwood. I was under the impression she was going to open the show, but it was a pleasant surprise and a cool change of pace to have her perform about 5 songs an hour into the concert. Plus she didn’t have to play to an arena of people just arriving. She was given the attention and response her talent and career deserve.
This being the opening night of his stay here in Salt Lake City, I kept wondering ‘How is he going to do three more shows in the next two days?! Let alone two shows in one night?’ He gave us so much energy, and never held back vocally. But every account I got from the people that attended those shows said that he put on the show of a lifetime. I can’t imagine anyone anywhere not saying or feeling the same. He asks for the crowd to give him everything they got, and gives it all right back. All I can say is if you enjoy being entertained, if you want to hear great music, Go See Garth! Even if you think you’re not a fan, Go See Garth! I promise you, you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to see him again.
Man Against Machine
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The Beaches of Cheyenne
Two Piña Coladas
Papa Loved Mama
Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
The Thunder Rolls
In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)
How Do I Live
She’s in Love With the Boy
Garth Brooks Set 2
Callin’ Baton Rouge
Friends in Low Places
Amarillo By Morning
Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
Standing Outside the Fire