Written by Mike Gregory
Photos by Lucas Armstrong
After an 18-year hiatus, country music megastar Garth Brooks has returned to the stage for a world tour, which included 7 shows in Atlanta. Fans came in droves from surrounding areas, and downtown was bustling with Garth fever. Phillips Arena holds nearly 18,000 people and boasts a 4-sided big screen television suspended above the stage, allowing close up views for the entire audience.
The crowds consisted of all ages and excitement was in the air as everyone made their way into the arena for the first of two shows on Friday, which started at 6:30pm. Garth took the stage with a welcoming smile kicking off the night with hits like “Man on the Machine” and “Rodeo.” The arena erupted with cheers when he announced he was going to “bring out all the old stuff,” even though he has a new album coming out November 11th. The show was a perfect blend of rock and country. He played hits like “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til The Sun Comes Up), “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” and of course, “The Thunder Rolls.” Garth engaged the audience even grabbing one fan’s cell phone, recording the show from his perspective. He worked all sides of the stage making everyone feel as though it was their own personal concert. It was a wholesome and rocking show all at the same time.
The first performance would be full of unexpected surprises. The 19th just so happened to be his wife, Trisha Yearwood’s 50th birthday, which led to a huge cake with a tiara on top rising up from the center of the stage. Garth led the audience in singing happy birthday after crowning her. The surprises continued when Garth welcomed Kelly Clarkson to the stage, (Clarkson is featured on Trisha’s new album entitled PrizeFighter). Garth stepped back from the spotlight allowing Trisha and Kelly to highlight the title track from her album, which is set for pre-release on Friday. She also did a few more hits including, “She’s in Love with the Boy” and “How Do I Live.”
Garth continued the reunion performing fan favorites “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance” as well as a Billy Joel cover, “Shameless.” Garth did a double encore consisting of 5 songs starting with Aerosmith’s “Fever” and closing with “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”. At one point the drummer who was inside of a lighted sphere rose high into the air and began to spin. The keyboards on either side of the drums rose up as well. Simultaneously, confetti shot out over the crowd. After a brief thank you to the audience, it was time to go as another hungry crowd was chomping at the bit to get in. Find out where you can get your “Garth on” at http://www.garthbrooks.com/ .
On a side note, Garth is taking time to give back to the community through his organization, Teammates for Kids. While in Atlanta, the organization hosted a football camp for 150 kids from the Children’s Restoration Network each of whom will receive guidance from the Atlanta Falcons star, Roddy White. The camp encourages kids to work hard and be a good person—certainly, something the world is lacking.