The G-man Cometh.

The G-man Cometh.

by JasonBryan / Sep 28, 2016 / 0 comments
Saturday, 17 September 2016

The man, the myth, the legend, Garth Brooks came to Anaheim for the weekend and blew the roof all the Honda Center. Well the roof is still physically there but the metaphorical ceiling has been raised. There’s a reason he’s sold more albums than Elvis and almost as many as the Beatles: he’s that good.

I went to the Saturday night show and it was started with Mitch Rosell playing a couple well-written solo tracks on his acoustic guitar, followed by Karyn Rochelle, one of the Brook’s back up singers. Then for a real treat Joe Nichols came out with two guitarists and did a mini-acoustic set. I got the feeling he was back stage partying and Garth convinced him to go out and play a couple of songs. Amongst a few of his hits “Sunny and 75”, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”, he squeezed in his country rendition of Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogie”. I hadn’t really paid attention to how the show was structured beforehand, and I was under the impression that Trisha Yearwood was the opener. I was wrong, because the main show was about to blow up the joint.

First let me take a moment to explain the stage. The set up was a basically a 360 degree oval, with every seat in the venue full. For the early acts a jumbotron was lowered down over the center of the stage hiding Brooks’ band’s equipment. But when it was his turn to take the stage it rose up revealing a drum-set set within a massive atom-like circular cage. With two different keyboard stands, (there were two keyboardists and probably 10 different keyboards in use for the show), in all there were 9 other musicians on stage with him. He opened with the single from his latest album Man vs Machine, but from that point on it was all hits. Brooks is a true showman, there to give the audience what they loved about him and what gave him his success and all the luxuries that came with it. It’s no surprise that a man who writes such heartfelt songs is full of humility, but he comes across so genuine in his lyrics, his singing, his interactions with his band mates, and of course the audience, you can almost forget he’s not your friend too.

Brooks ran around the stage jumping from risers, being sure to stop at intervals to make sure fans from all places got a moment where he was in front of them, and he did this for nearly every song. At one point Brook’s climbed on top of the contraption the drummer was playing inside of. I was sitting in what would have basically been the rear corner behind the stage and it was fantastic, super close to the stage and band members constantly playing to the back and sides and corners. I’m surprised they didn’t straight make the stage an in-the-round center stage layout.

The energy was high, the crowd was loud, constantly encouraged to sing along, often tested by Garth to make sure they knew the words. He demanded that the audience sing the “too adult for the radio” third verse of “Thunder Rolls” louder than he’s ever heard it. The crowd sang it loud, but I’m sure every crowd in every city sings it the loudest.

About halfway through the night Trisha Yearwood joined the stage for “In Another’s Eyes” which I’ve always felt is about how they left other relationships to be with each other, but the lyrics play a little broader than that. When Brook’s introduced her it was obvious that they were both still very much in love with each other. Garth then took a back seat to his wife as she went into a four song set of some of her biggest hits.

Garth came back to the forefront for what is probably the greatest cover song of all time, Billy Joel’s “Shameless”. Brooks recorded this song in 1991 just two years after Joel, and it is a staple of the brooks discography. There’s something about the conversion from 80’s Pop to 90’s country that makes the song timeless, but hats off to Billy Joel for putting words to define love in a way few poets can. About this point in the show Brooks reveals that his guitar is mostly there to hide his gut. (He does this every show) and strums on the strings with no sound filling the stadium, he then states that they do let him play some choice notes before going into the opening notes of “Friends in Low Places.” The crowd of course went berserk in the frenzied manner only few performers can create.

For the Encore’s Brooks came out on stage with just his acoustic guitar and no band mates and took requests from audience held signs. He played the first verse and chorus of six songs before the band joined him from “Much Too Young (to Feel This Damned Old)” and then continued taking requests. Half the place was in tears for the World War One Christmas song “Belleau Wood”. It may have been everyone, but I couldn’t see clearly through my own tears. Trish Yearwood came back out on stage in her PJ’s and sang her song “Walkaway Joe” and then Brooks finished the night with “Standing Outside the Fire”.

It was an unforgettable night by a music icon. If you get the chance go see him, he’s been zig-zagging across the country on this tour since 2014 it’s a must see. There are only two types of people in this world; those that love Garth Brooks and those that don’t know it yet.

Set list from Saturday’s show:

Man Against Machine


Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House
The Beaches of Cheyenne 

The River
Two Piña Coladas
Papa Loved Mama
Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)
Unanswered Prayers
If Tomorrow Never Comes
That Summer
The Thunder Rolls 

In Another's Eyes 

XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)*
How Do I Live*

PrizeFighter *
She's in Love With the Boy *
Callin' Baton Rouge
Friends in Low Places 

The Dance
Wrapped Up in You
You Move Me
The Red Strokes
Amarillo By Morning 

Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
More Than a Memory
It's Your Song
Belleau Wood 

Longneck Bottle
Walkaway Joe *
Standing Outside the Fire

*Trisha Yearwood songs

Photo's by Jon Zitzman

Rating out of 11: