Saturday, March 27, 2010

Only Garth

I know that it looks like I'm starting to promote Las Vegas concerts. You may be partially right there. My wife is a huge fan of Garth Brooks. I'm a fan but never saw him live before. She's such a big fan that she woke me up, from a dead sleep, excited with the news that Brooks would start performing at the Wynn in Las Vegas at the end of last year. We couldn't afford the tickets early on and waited. Our tax return and the timing of our anniversary made tonight's performance a must.

She had the purchase of the tickets all worked out. She would wake up early, set up a few computers and two phones with the intention to get through and get tickets. The excitement faded after a few hours. The venue had just launched their anti-scalping policy which pretty much locked up their servers and phone lines. The phones were busy and the window applet that said she was 'in cue' would just time-out. Frustrated, she told me that she was done and was going to her mother's house to feed the dogs. When she returned, she tried again... and got through. The smile on her face when she came to tell me "Guess what?" had replaced the tears from earlier. We were to go with our friends Jennifer and Ryan (but that is a long story that, to protect the names of the innocent, must be saved for my memoirs -- due out July 26th 2041 via Simon & Schuster.)

Getting the tickets there was a breeze and they even had refreshments if the lines got bad. The solitary guitar sitting on its stand on the stage, viewed when walking into the Encore Theater, tells you right-away that it was going to be an intimate show. It was. As you may know, I'm first and foremost a fan of music history more than a particular artist. Brooks takes you along his personal history and I'm sure more than half of the audience went home to Google the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Gladys Knight And The Pips, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Chris LeDoux (among others.) He teased with renditions of those songs -- laying the basis for what would become his own sound. Personal, laugh-out-loud humorous and thoughtful, you get to see a side of Garth that few do. He didn't let fans down that wanted to hear his songs either... you might have thought that from the description. He ripped into several classics, tested himself with a few songs the audience threw at him and brought out his wife Trisha Yearwood for a duet and her own hit single before winding down the show himself.

I have seen a lot of concerts. I don't review them often because the recorded medium and live arena are so different yet many just want to hear 'the hits' played just like on the album. That's not the way to judge a live performance. Of all the shows that I've seen, Garth Brooks' current low-key (a man and his guitar) set was quite possibly the best that I've ever seen. If you weren't a fan, you became one. If you were a fan, you got to know the man. And, I don't think that you can put a price tag on that.

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