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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.
 
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Posted by on December 25, 2010 in Concert Reviews

 

Concert Review: Carrie Underwood

Roberts Stadium
Evansville, Indiana
Thursday, December 2, 2010

When I went to see Carrie Underwood in concert last night, I had previously made the decision that I was going to take a break from a being a critic, and for one night just be a fan.  I fully intended to have a great time, and that I did.

Carrie’s Evansville concert kicked off with an opening set by Sons of Sylia.  This country-rock trio gave an energetic performance of their songs “Love Left to Lose,” “I’ll Know You,” and others.  The highlight of their set was when they played some “old school bluegrass music,” which they played “as fast as possible.”  Apparently, they did indeed mean fast, as they only played it for about thirty seconds.

Billy Currington took the stage next, performing a selection of his hits.  He kicked off his set with “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” and then launched into “Why, Why, Why.”  He also performed a couple of album tracks that have not been released as singles, including “I Wanna Be a Hillbilly” from his album Doin’ Somethin’ Right, and the horn-infused “Love Done Gone” from his current album Enjoy Yourself.  Obviously, his set would have been complete without the requisite hillbilly beer-drinking anthems, such as “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and “People Are Crazy.”  I was in an especially jovial mood last night, and there were a few instances when I clapped and sang along to songs that would normally provoke me to change the radio station.  Billy then performed his new single “Let Me Down Easy,” and closed his set with “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and “Good Directions.”

And then it was time for the lady herself to take the stage.  The crowd went wild as Carrie emerged on a lift from beneath the stage, sitting on a divan, singing “Cowboy Casanova.”  She then launched into performances of “Quitter,” “Wasted,” “I Know You Won’t” and “Some Hearts.”

After a quick costume change (There were seven costume changes altogether, in case anyone was wondering), Carrie performed her ballads “Just a Dream” and “Temporary Home,” and then strapped on an acoustic guitar for a performance of “All-American Girl.”

At one point in the show, Carrie was lifted above the crown in a pickup truck as she treated the crowd to a cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  After getting the crowd pumped with “Undo It” (I even sang along with “Undo It,” which should tell you just how giddy I was), Carrie sang “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” following that performance with a sampling of “How Great Thou Art.”

Sons of Sylvia joined Carrie on “What Can I Say,” their duet from Carrie’s Play On album.  Next, Carrie spoke to the audience about her deep connection to the Grand Ole Opry, and performed “I Told You So” in front of a backdrop of the Grand Ole Opry stage.  “Tonight we’re bringing Nashville here to you,” she announced.  “Welcome to the Grand Ole Opry!”  She was accompanied by video footage of Randy Travis singing the song with her in a virtual duet.  I enjoyed getting to pretend that I was at the Opry, and Carrie’s re-creation of the Opry stage was quite possibly my favorite moment of the show.

Carrie accompanied herself on piano as she sang her latest hit “Mama’s Song,” as old family photos were shown on the screen backdrop.  After a final costume change, Carrie performed one of her signature tunes, “Before He Cheats.”  The show ended with Carrie’s performance of “Songs Like This.”

To say that Carrie’s vocals were spot-on would be quite an understatement.  Her performances were full of energy and emotion.  In between songs, lively stage banter kept the audience thoroughly entertained.  It was an evening of fun, excitement, surprises, and showstopping performances.

Carrie’s Play On tour continues on through December, wrapping up on January 1, 2011, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Concert Reviews

 
 
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