Blows the roof off Bridgestone Arena
Garth Brooks will likely remember Saturday, December 9, 2017 for a number of reasons. When he and wife Trisha Yearwood picked up their mics at the afternoon press conference, he told us it was something of a homecoming for them: the first time they had played Nashville since the fundraiser following the ‘great Nashville flood’ of 2010.
As Trisha said, after three years on the road, it was pleasant to realize they didn’t have to pack a suitcase. After each of their Nashville shows, they could simply drive to their home in Goodlettsville. Garth smiled at said, “Welcome to the end of the journey.”
December 9 also marked the official announcement that Garth’s latest single, ‘Ask Me How I Know,’ reached Number One on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. It was his first Number One since 2007’s ‘More Than A Memory.’ To add poignancy, December 9, 1989, was the date that Garth reached the Number One spot for the first time with ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes.’
Oh, and Saturday was the eve of Garth and Trisha’s wedding anniversary: they were married December 10, 2005. A memorable weekend in so many ways.
Garth’s pre-show celebration
At a backstage party prior to Saturday’s show at Bridgestone Arena, Garth and Trisha celebrated their return to Nashville following an incredible tour that shattered just about every record for attendance and ticket revenue. Awards were presented to Garth, one after another, marking so many milestones in a unique career. Among his astonishing achievements: he is the best-selling solo artist in the United States with over 148 million domestic units sold, and over 160 million records sold worldwide.
He is also the only artist to have released seven albums that reached diamond status, according to RIAA. (This is an even greater achievement when you remember that he took a hiatus from recording between 2001 and 2009 to focus more fully on being with his family.)
At the pre-show party, it was also announced that Garth also tops the Nielsen BookScan chart with the Number One non-fiction book, ‘The Anthology, Part One: The First Five Years.’
And then it was showtime. A packed Bridgestone Arena was treated to a superb show that opened with a solo set from singer/songwriter Mitch Rossell who wrote Garth’s current chart-topper, ‘Ask Me How I Know.’ That song is Rossell’s first commercially released cut as a songwriter, making it a memorable night for him, too. Rossell was followed by a set by Karyn Rochelle, a fine songwriter who co-penned ‘Red High Heels’ with Kelly Pickler.
Two+ hours of high energy
When Garth finally hit the stage, the sold-out crowd erupted as he roared into ‘Let’s Lay Down and Dance,’ the beginning of more than two hours of faultless high energy. Garth is a master of handling a crowd. At one point, without saying or singing a word, he virtually ‘conducted’ the audience like a mime. For several minutes, he urged different sections of the crowd to compete in the volume of the noise they could produce, building to a deafening crescendo.
As he had pointed out at the press conference, he understands an audience’s desire to hear the familiar hits and he knows how to finesse the performance of lesser-known or current material into his set. He didn’t disappoint, performing a string of crowd favorites, including ‘The Thunder Roars,’ ‘Rodeo,’ ‘When Tomorrow Comes,’ and many more. Trisha joined him onstage with some of her own hits including ‘She’s In Love With the Boy’ and ‘Memphis.’
With all the records that Garth has already broken, he isn’t done yet. Although the current World Tour is finally coming to an end, there’s no end in sight to his unique and remarkable career, as much a tribute to his mastery of marketing as to his amazing musical talent. There’s more to come.
Footnote: Mitch Rossell, who opened for Garth and also wrote the current Number One, may be finding his first taste of chart success as a writer, but he is no newcomer to the music business. As he told the audience during his set, he’d been playing music and writing songs as long as he could remember. He’d been in Nashville for about five years, determined to make music his career. He looked around the packed arena and said that before these tour dates with Garth, “I was playing Tootsie’s bar at the Nashville Airport.” Aspiring artists and songwriters need to remind themselves that ‘Nashville is a five-year town’ – or maybe a ten-year town for some. Patience and perseverance win out in the end.