Garth Brooks - Calgary Stampede Centennial Show - Calgary, AB (07.12.12)
Posted by Bill Wannop on 07.17.2012
Garth Brooks came out of retirement to get the band back together and play at the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Excitement reached an all time high, when the arena sold out in 58 seconds, with over 15,000 tickets being sold. Garth would return for one night only, with the entire city expecting for an epic performance. Was he up to the task? Could he possibly put on a performance that exceeded the hype?
For the past eight years Garth Brooks has been relishing in his semi-retirement. Even though he is the second best selling solo artist in the United States, he has not released any new music since 2005. His only performances have been his Vegas show at the Encore hotel on select nights each month, in addition to some rare charity concert performances. However, one event enticed him to get the band together and come out of retirement and light up the stage for one night only. That event was the centennial anniversary of the greatest outdoor show on earth, The Calgary Stampede. Even with Garth Brooks inactivity in music, there is no questioning his popularity, as excitement swept the city as soon as the concert was announced. Excitement reached an all time high, when the arena sold out in 58 seconds, with over 15,000 tickets being sold. Garth would return for one night only, with the entire city expecting for an epic performance. Was he up to the task? Could he possibly put on a performance that exceeded the hype? The answer to both questions was a resounding yes.
As the arena filled, you could feel the excitement in the air. This was a special concert on a special night, and it was unlikely that one of the greatest musical performers would let his fans down. Right from the opening song, Garth had the audience in the palm of his hand. The band took the stage and the beat started to build until Brooks emerged and went right into his hit, “Rodeo”, a perfect opening song for an event that is world renown for its rodeo events. Right from the first song the entire crowd was on their feet, with little reprieve between tunes. Brooks moved through his steady hits, before ending his playing session with the full band with the hit “Shameless”.
Between songs, Brooks casually chat with the crowd, telling stories on fatherhood and giving his opinion on whatever he is thinking about. These are the qualities that make Garth Brooks that much more lovable since he is so personable, and easy to relate to. Before each track, he will always introduce the song, in addition to giving the audience some nice tidbits about the song, its origin and what he was thinking when he first wrote or recorded the track. These sentiments really allow Garth to open up to the audience, really displaying how much pride he takes in his music.
Brooks kept the concert moving, giving his band a break, leaving himself alone with only his guitar on stage. Sitting on the corner of the stage he went on to one of his biggest hits “Unanswered Prayers”. During each chorus he would let the crowd sing the hook, even encouraging them to, simply smiling and sitting in awe at the 15,000 fans all singing back to him.
The band would return as Brooks played “The River” as it appeared as though Brooks was having the time of his life. Garth seemed like a big kid on stage. He was enjoying every second of what he was doing. There seemed to be a symbiotic relationship between himself and the crowd. He loves entertaining and you can tell he loves the roar of the crowd. With each song Brooks energy level seemed to increase, which only grew the crowd louder, which again further fueled Brooks. After moving though even more hits (as Brooks made fun of himself, stating he is only going to be playing old stuff, because he has no new stuff), Brooks would introduce his first special guest, Steve Wariner. Wariner is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, who is a pretty big country star in his own right, with over 50 singles that have charted on Billboard. The two would play “Long Neck Bottl”e together, before Brooks would leave the stage as Wariner went through two of his own songs. This was a great change of pace, and gave short break for Brooks, who would return full of energy with “Baton Rouge”, before going into hit “In Another’s Eye”, at which point this second special guest, Trisha Yearwood, would join Brooks on stage for the duet.
Earlier in the day Garth Brooks was asked how the stampede was able to convince him to give a performance, and what the Stampede could have offered him in order for him to play the event, to which Garth replied “I said I would do it for a belt buckle”. After the duet, The Stampede organizers followed through and presented special commemorative belt buckles for the Centennial event, to both Mrs. Yearwood and Mr. Brooks. After the ceremony, Trisha Yearwood stayed on stage and went through a couple of her own songs, playing ”She’s in Love with the Boy” and “Walkaway Joe”.
Brooks mentioned numerous times how he missed performing big shows, and stated that once his oldest daughter is in college, that he and Trisha Yearwood will be going on a big tour again. One of the main issues Brooks has is the whole music industry itself and the way greed has somewhat ruined it. For this concert he had every ticket priced exactly the same at $62 (which is an amazing deal since the ticket also grants you access to the Stampede, which costs $17 itself). Since the show sold out in 58 seconds Brooks could have charged 3 times that amount and still packed the house. He reiterated that when they return in a couple years that ticket prices will cost the same, and you will not have to worry about any sell outs, because he will play as many shows as needed to ensure everyone gets a chance to see him, whether that is 1 show or 100 shows. Again, Brooks shows that he is not a greedy person and loves to give people extreme value for their money, which just adds to the overall enjoyment of the show, knowing that you did not need to break the bank for the ticket.
It is also quite amazing that Brooks has the majority of the same band members and backup singers as when he first started performing. This only adds to the show as there is a very big level of comfort and connection between Brooks and the band, with him jumping around the stage, and the band members following him and assisting him in every aspect.
To finish off the night, Brooks simply played 4 chords on his guitar and the roof exploded. He then went through “Low Places” getting the crowd to sing the last verse. It was a fitting end to a great concert, however the crowd was not having it, pulling Brooks back on stage for not one but three encores, in which Brooks finally stated, somewhat out of breath, “it’s a work night, are you sure you want to stay’”the answer was a resounding yes. “If you thought I didn’t have a clue before, I sure doesn’t have a clue now.”
Brooks finally finished the amazing concert with the cover “American Pie” as he stood atop the stage arms raised still feeding off the audience.
You can still catch Brooks at the Encore at the Wynn in Las Vegas, where he plays many nights a month; however it is a completely different show. At the Las Vegas show it is a much more intimate experience, with just Brooks and his guitar, no band. The Vegas show is still an amazing experience from one of the best entertainers of the world, but the energy of this show was just unreal. Brooks proved once again that he is one of the best performers in the world.
There were no special effects, no pyrotechnics, no real stage set (in fact they actually sat people behind the stage), just Garth and his band. One of the main things about concerts is how the audience is feeling, and you can truly sense that Brooks was feeding off his audience and really wants them to have a good time. He encourages them to participate every chance they get. The energy, pure passion and showmanship from Garth Brooks was truly amazing. Added with the energy from the crowd, the special guests in addition to the historic centennial Stampede, made this one of the greatest concerts of all time.
For more information on Garth Brooks please visit his Official Websiteofficial website
1. Rodeo - they call it rodeo.
2. Poppa Loved Momma – have vid
3. Much 2 Young (To Feel This Damn Old
5. Unanswered Prayer
7. Thunder Rolls
Introduces Sever Wariner – first special guest
8. Long Neck Bottle
9. Steve Werner solo
10. Burning Both Ends of The Night
11. Baton Rouge
Trisha Yearwood came on stage – second special guest
12. In Another’s Eye – duet with Garth and Trisha
13. She’s In Love With The Boy
14. Walkaway Joe
15. Low Places
16. The Dance
17. Aint Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up
18. If Tomorrow Never Comes
19. I Was Drunk The Day My Mom Got Out Of Prison
20. American Pie
The 411: There were no special effects, no pyrotechnics, no real stage set (in fact they actually sat people behind the stage), just Garth and his band. One of the main things about concerts is how the audience is feeling, and you can truly sense that Brooks was feeding off his audience and really wants them to have a good time. He encourages them to participate every chance they get. The energy, pure passion and showmanship from Garth Brooks was truly amazing. Added with the energy from the crowd, the special guests in addition to the historic centennial Stampede, made this one of the greatest concerts of all time.