Garth Brooks 2nd show 10pm crowded entry

Just weeks after Nashville Scene had published its best shows of 2010 list where Paul McCartney took top honors, Garth Brooks, who had not played an arena show in town since 1998, shattered tickets sales records, 140, 000, with nine shows sold out in four hours and spread across five days at Bridgestone.

Garth came to town to do his part for flood relief along with his original band, every member from the shows that played arenas in the 90’s made it for the night as the Country Star who sold 100 million records in 10 years and set a new standard of what was possible for Country crossover did a “best of” show to a sing along crowd and raised closed to 4 million dollars for The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

(Photo: Dipti Vaidya/Tennessean Staff )

This was a full production that was also being filmed for broadcast on the Armed Forces Network and the crowd benefitted from a multi angle camera production that was broadcast on several screens in the arena.  Garth made note that  “You’ve done your part, now we are going to do our part” before going into a greatest hits night that featured guest spots by his wife Trisha Yearwood and Steve Wariner who had won a Grammy for his Chet Atkins tribute album just a year ago.

Garth had just come out of retirement a year ago playing a show in Vegas that features him on acoustic guitar and a stool, with no backup band. As Garth says, getting back to where it all started. Not only was this the first Arena show in Nashville since 1998 but it was the first show with his original band.

Songwriter Sam Cooper/Mrs. Cooper/Mother first time from New Jersey

I was invited by a record executive who happened to have a spare ticket left to caravan with a group of songwriters and family to the second show. I had not seen a crowd that nuts since the first time I saw Van Halen. The entire audience was on their feet for almost the entire show singing along to every song.

It was Garth’s 10:00 late show the first night on Thursday and if he was worn out from the first set he didn’t show it other than maybe breaking a sweat now and then.  Rolling through hit after hit, Garth not only made eye contact but interacted several times with the audience.  At one point, he grabbed a camera from a fan up front and took pictures of the audience and his band before giving it back.

Crank it up/Full Video Production at Monitor Board

If this was meant to be a return to the stage, it was enough to land front page articles not only by local press, but from Rolling Stone, Billboard and every major press across the country. There were several well written pieces out the next couple of days.

Country Music fans are now used to Arena sized Country shows put on by Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley. Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts but this was the artist that started it all with his blend of singer/songwriter style that blended country with influences from James Taylor to Billy Joel.  Garth figured out how to do “Arena Rock” size shows almost 20 years ago with high wire acts and smashing acoustic guitars.

Garth at Bridgestone Arena December 2010

Garth was in his element, walking around the entire 360 stage, egging on the audience and spotlighting band members as the night rolled toward the finishers “Friends in Low Places”, which  has become his “Honky Tonk Women” as well as the song he wished he was known by “The Dance” finished out the night.

In a year where several major stars returned to do huge shows to benefit those who suffered most in the historic floods in May this was the icing on the cake.  Now getting back to Paul McCartney, yes it was legendary that Paul played in Nashville for the first time. Paul has been playing a lot of second tier markets this go around. He also played Coachella for the first time in 2009. Those who know Nashville history know that Paul wrote “Juniors Farm” after staying at a Nashville area farm laying low one summer with Wings and the family.

Now back to Garth, as a personal triumph, this was as important as the Central Park Concert or playing at The Dallas Cowboys stadium. What started out as an offer to play a show turned out to be an avalanche of positive response with ticket buyers as far away as Canada to see Garth with the full band. Not bad for a member of “The Class of ‘89”.

Note*** First photos from my new HTC EVO 4G, we shall see…

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN