So I, along with 76,000 of my closest friends, took in a Garth Brooks concert on March 9, at the (renamed for 48 hours) Garth Brooks Dome at America’s Center, in downtown St. Louis.
This is an insane amount of people to be in one place for anything, but there we were and Garth was right in the middle of it all. It’s impossible to have anything even remotely resembling an intimate performance with a crowd of that size, but it’s also impressive and powerful to be a part of a gathering that large for the simple purpose of having a good time.
The show itself is inconsequential at that point, but it is important to note it was as entertaining and enjoyable as a Garth Brooks concert should be.
This is why I am going to resubmit a slightly edited version of the review I wrote the last time Garth came to town in 2014. That may seem lazy (and you’re not wrong), but the vast majority of it is as true now as it was on his last tour and that review just so happens to probably be the best concert review I’ve ever written.
So, here you go:
You will be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys a Garth Brooks concert more than Garth Brooks. Of course, that makes the audience, who already loved him, just love him that much more; and this feedback loop of us loving Garth, loving us, loving Garth rises to an ear-shattering, heart-pounding crescendo that makes his shows such a legendary experience.
For myself, Garth Brooks is the most demystified celebrity around. At roughly 15 years my senior, Garth grew up only a handful of miles from where I did. We both attended Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) and Garth cast a shadow over my formative years as the hometown-boy-made-good.
In Garth’s goofy, aw-shucks, life-of-the-party stage presence, I see traces of friends and family I have known my whole life. Garth’s just the guy who put it all together and somehow turned it into international fame and fortune. I’ve never loved Garth Brooks, but I’ve always respected the holy hell out of the guy.
His music has been a little too on-the-nose and pop-country for my tastes, but after seeing him live, I have to admit my respect has blossomed into full-blown admiration.
There is no denying he has recorded some truly great songs. “Friends in Low Places” will be played in bars in mining colonies on Jupiter’s moons. Garth still brings it with rockers like “Rodeo” and “Papa Loved Mama” and pours every last drop of emotion into weepers like “The Dance” and “Unanswered Prayers.”
But, first and foremost, Garth is a showman. Famous for bringing arena-rock spectacle to the starched and stuffy world of country music, the man can work a crowd as well as anyone you will ever see. You get the feeling he would take personal offense to anyone walking out of the place not grinning from ear to ear.
Garth knows what the people want and he is more than happy to give it to them.
Garth Brooks may be a little older and a little wiser since his last world tour, but he doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. With the help of a tight and lively backing band, he delivered what would be considered an energetic and enthused performance for a man half his age.
Garth loves the limelight and his fans love seeing him there and, from the looks of things, this is a love affair with no end in sight.
Party on, Garth.