Little g ... Big A+
September 25, 2014
This week, "The 'Ville" belongs to All Access Editorial Assistant Monta Vaden who, it's safe to say, is a Garth Brooks savant. Monta went to Garth's Atlanta show last week and took notes. We invite you to live vicariously through her now, as she shares her experience seeing the G-man - not for the first time, but for the first time in years ... rjc
I feel like I should start with a few apologies. First, I'd like to apologize to my colleagues who have heard me count down to this Garth Brooks show in Atlanta since the day he announced he would tour. I'd also like to apologize to those of you reading this that have not yet had the opportunity to attend a show, as I know bragging is rude. Finally, I'd like to apologize to Jesus. I'm fairly sure that what I'm about to say goes against a commandment. I don't think I'm supposed to love Garth Brooks as much as I do. Hopefully that doesn't count against me, because I really do love Jesus.
I'm still new here, so you may not know me. My name is Monta, and I'm a Garth Brooks addict. There, I said it. If you do know me - or if we've spoken on the phone, or are Facebook friends, or if you've read the 10 Questions interview we published shortly after I joined the staff - then you know that I've spent the vast majority of my life believing that there will never be another act quite like Garth.
I still remember the first time I heard him. I was (insert an unreasonably young age here) years old and was riding the bus to school when Gerry House played "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" on WSIX/Nashville. I walked around singing it for the next two days - at which time my grandmother finally caught what I was singing and informed me that I shouldn't use such language. Oops! Fast forward through midnight cassette releases at Walmart, four Opry shows, five arena shows and a lifetime fandom later ... you're not here to hear about my fandom and how it has grown throughout the years, even despite his long hiatus. You're here to read about him now, on tour, and live in Atlanta.
This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to see Garth at the opening night of his Atlanta tour stop. I had a terrible time trying to secure tickets the day they went on sale, but I finally snagged one seat for the 10:30p show. Hooray!
It was a bit of a logistical nightmare getting 18,000 people out of a venue at the same time a new 18,000 were trying to get into the same one, but both the staff and the crowd handled it well. I stood in line with other fans anxiously awaiting the show, and I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple who had come over from Ireland for the concert. They originally had tickets to one of the infamous cancelled shows, but they were willing to make it work to see Garth. They spoke highly of the way he handled "the situation" in Ireland; they were not as complimentary when speaking about their country.
After getting everyone seated, it was finally time. He began the show with menacing skull and crossbones on the projection screens counting down 60 seconds until show time. Garth took the stage to thunderous applause, opening with a track entitled "Man Against Machine." Though this is apparently a track from his upcoming album, you wouldn't have known it was unfamiliar - fans were on their feet and singing along by the second chorus.
Garth hit us with one big song after another, reminding us that when he goes to a show, he doesn't want to hear the new stuff. A moving, sing-along version of "The River" got me a bit choked up near the beginning of the show and made me appreciate the course my life is currently charting. "Papa Loved Mama" followed, bringing me right back up to the high-energy level. "Do I have to be the one to remind you that you're getting older?" Garth asked us all. "We might need to slow it down here with a good old love song to let you catch your breath!" He then proceeded straight in to "Ain't Goin' Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up." He knew he had us right where he wanted us. All 18,000 of us.
To slow it down, he followed with "Unanswered Prayers," which brought with it another sing-along, this one moving Garth himself to real tears. "This is so unreal," he said with sincere emotion after the song ended. "I don't wanna push my luck, but I've gotta get me some more of that. That was cool!"
He ended his first set with his latest single, "People Loving People." I was interested to see how the crowd would react to the new music, and I have a feeling Garth was, too. He utilized the large screens to display the song's lyrics so the crowd could continue to participate. Full speed ahead, everyone followed. I was genuinely impressed and pleasantly surprised. Afterwards, Garth brought out Trisha for "In Another's Eyes" before she launched in to her set.
"Ms. Yearwood" also brought her greatest hits out of the gate. "Xs and Os" and "How Do I Live" segued in to the crowd favorite "She's In Love With The Boy." Trisha utilized her own version of the kiss cam; it was fairly adorable. Not to be outdone, Garth reappeared with his own version of adorable, presenting Trisha with a birthday cake and gifts. After everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to Trisha, the two closed out her set with a duet of her latest release "PrizeFighter." I've heard a rumor that Kelly Clarkson made an appearance during the early show that night, but I was happy to get a bit more Garth and Trisha harmony in my life.
Garth kept me on my feet with hit after hit. He was open and candid when he spoke between songs, as if he were playing an intimate show. I could feel a lot of what he had utilized in Vegas coming through. The connection he had with the audience was at an all-time high. "The older you get, the more your give-a-shitter gets gone," he shared, as he launched in to the strum of four notes that never fail to set the audience ablaze. (Seriously, if you don't know what song I'm talking about there, we can't really be friends.) Garth closed the set with his signature, "The Dance."
Two encores followed, where he took requests via signs, called up favorites buried deep on early albums, and even covered King George's "Amarillo By Morning."
He concluded with "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" at 2:13a (ET). I kid you not. I think if they hadn't cut the lights on, we may still be there. He was giving everything he had to an audience who had waited anxiously for years to see him. It felt like a really great church service. (See what I mean? Sorry, Jesus.) I left feeling excited and refreshed, confident in myself, and confident in the fact that the man I've held in such high esteem for most of my life still has what it takes.
Since Garth is striving to make each show unique, there were notable absences in the set list. "The Thunder Rolls" and "If Tomorrow Never Comes" were two that stuck out immediately. I've heard they were included in the early show, whereas that crowd didn't get to hear "Shameless." I know this from the information given to me by two lovely ladies in their late 60s or early 70s sitting in front of me who had attended both shows that evening.
It's also important to note that some things really have changed. There was no fire. He didn't fly. No indoor weather phenomenon occurred in the making of this show. But he never stood still, either. He ran, he jumped, he worked the entirety of the 360-degree stage, making certain that everyone there - no matter their seat - had a great view and felt included. Though I say he never stood still, he did take a moment in the second encore to lie down on stage. Seriously. The man has been away from touring for 13 years, so what did you expect? He gave us all he had. Just as I know he did for the first show that night and I know he will do every night he steps on stage. Because that is who he is, and that is part of why I love him.
The show was amazing, and I'm blessed to have been there. Honestly, I don't think anyone walked away unhappy or disappointed - except for maybe the drunk guy behind me who kept yelling, "Sing 'Chattahoochie!'" all night. Sorry, pal ... right state, wrong legend.
Without further ado, here is the full set list from the Garth Brooks World Tour in Atlanta, GA on Friday, September 19th at the 10:30p (ET) show:
- Man Against Machine
- Two Of A Kind, Workin' On A Full House
- Beaches Of Cheyenne
- Two Pina Coladas
- The River
- Papa Loved Mama
- Ain't Goin' Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up
- Unanswered Prayers
- To Make You Feel My Love
- That Summer
- People Loving People
- In Another's Eyes - with Trisha Yearwood
- Xs and Os - Trisha Yearwood
- How Do I Live - Trisha Yearwood
- She's In Love With The Boy - Trisha Yearwood
- PrizeFighter - Trisha Yearwood with Garth Brooks
- Callin' Baton Rouge
- Friends In Low Places
- The Dance
- The Fever
- Lonesome Dove
- When You Come Back To Me Again (fan sign request)
- Amarillo By Morning
- Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)