Garth Brooks Launches SiriusXM Channel With Live Hit Parade At the Ryman
September 9, 2016 at 8:45 AM (PT)
In the hours leading up to GARTH BROOKS’ first-ever full show at the historic RYMAN AUDITORIUM in NASHVILLE last NIGHT (9/8), the biggest question among attendees was, “What will his first song be?” At a press conference earlier in the day, BROOKS was non-specific, hinting at something he hoped would pay proper homage to the building, which he said more than once, he was still not worthy of playing.
The event marked the launch of SIRIUSXM’s new “GARTH CHANNEL” (Channel 55) (NET NEWS 7/7) and was broadcast live on the new channel and "THE HIGHWAY." BROOKS' entrance to the RYMAN stage last night was understated – no elevator lift, smoke, fanfare, or jumbo screens to be found. He strolled from behind the curtain with just a guitar, telling the crowd he himself wasn’t exactly sure where to begin, but said his favorite Country song of all time -- CAL SMITH’s “Country Bumpkin” -- seemed right. That classic opened a memory-lane medley that included GEORGE JONES’ “He Stopped Loving her Today,” GEORGE STRAIT’s “AMARILLO By Morning,” and MERLE HAGGARD’s “Today I Started Loving You Again.” He then included dashes of DOLLY PARTON’s “I Will Always Love You” and RANDY TRAVIS’ “I Told You So.” BUCK OWENS and ERNEST TUBB were both named-checked, and the throwback THURSDAY was completed with a full version of the KEITH WHITLEY classic, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
But BROOKS has his own, extensive catalog of iconic songs, and he wasted no time in unfurling them. After the WHITLEY ballad, BROOKS got right down to business with “Friends In Low Places,” and yes, even in the RYMAN, the famous third verse was included. The hit parade began moving fast and furious, as he followed with other signature tunes: “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind (Workin’ on a Full House),” “The River,” “Two Pina Coladas,” and “Unanswered Prayers.” If BROOKS ever felt he needed temporary vocal rest, it was readily available, as the entire crowd sang along all night. TRISHA YEARWOOD joined BROOKS onstage for “In Another’s Eyes,” “Walkaway JOE,” and the evening’s only new number, a duet between the two called “Whiskey To Wine.”
BROOKS’ 90-minute set and extended encore more than proved his worthiness for playing the RYMAN – something which only he previously doubted. But it also affirmed that no matter the size of the venue – YANKEE STADIUM, any indoor arena in AMERICA, or the RYMAN, with its intimate-sized capacity of 2,362 – he remains a special entertainer who is able make a personal, emotional connection with any sized audience, regardless of the configuration. He also understands what people come to his shows for: the hits, which were delivered in large doses, at a dizzying pace, performed impeccably.