Review: Garth Brooks electrifies crowd of 50K plus on a red-hot night in Salt Lake City
Garth Brooks performs in front of over 50,000 enthusiastic fans during his sold out show at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on July 17, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Jay Perry
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 18, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – Well, Utahns, I’ll tell you one thing if Garth Brooks promises to bring the party to Salt Lake City, believe him. I can’t remember going to a bigger party at Beehive State, and many of us were ready to let our hairs fall and our hearts sing out after a rocky 2020.
“If you think you’re coming to the stadium because you have a seat, I’ll let you rest … you’ve never been to a Garth show,” Brooks told reporters at a news conference on Friday.
Salt Lake City was the second stop on his stadium tour, and Brooks and his band were the first single-act shows to play Rice Eccles Stadium since U2 played there in 2011, scratched from the heat; he told reporters it would start when everyone was in the stadium, around 8 p.m. That was an accomplishment in itself; around 50,000 concert-goers had to find their seats, but although it was scorching hot and a little hectic, everyone managed to handle the logistics successfully and with grace; We got our seats just a minute and a half before Brooks took the stage.
Garth Brooks performs in front of a crowd of over 50,000 enthusiastic fans during his sold out show at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on July 17, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Jay Perry
Anyone who’s been to a Garth show before knows that you don’t spend a lot of time sitting down. He took the stage at 9pm, which means the first three songs, “All Day Long,” “Rodeo,” and “Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House” were performed before sunset. As soon as it got dark, the concertgoers held their phones up and lit the stadium like thousands of fireflies against the backdrop of the beautiful mountains of Salt Lake City.
It was a memorable moment.
Tens of thousands of music fans in Salt Lake City show their love for Garth Brooks after being unable to attend major live music events for a year due to COVID-19. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Jay Perry
It was emotional to be back at a big show like this – the Salt Lake City performance was the fastest-selling stadium show in Ticketmaster history – 51,000 seats in 30 minutes – but there are many things that make a Garth show going that really take a lot of time experience to another level. He just has a way of making the people in the back row feel like they are at the front, and the people in the front feel like there’s nowhere they’d rather be.
It also really seemed like there wasn’t a place Brooks would rather be, giving the huge stadium the same intimate feel of one of his iconic dive bar appearances as it did at The Westerner in Salt Lake City on Friday night. During the two-hour show, he never left the stage and barely drank a sip of water. (I noticed the same phenomenon during Paul McCartney’s three hour show in Rio Tinto in 2010. I suspect they could both be superhuman.)
Garth Brooks wows thousands of Utah fans with an energetic performance in front of a sold out crowd at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, July 17, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Jay Perry
Brooks was drenched in sweat by the end of the performance, but his voice and guitar playing were in great shape all evening. Throughout the night he proved to be a consummate showman, a professional at his best. He played right in different areas of the stadium and encouraged the audience to sing along to every word. The atmosphere was downright electric; I especially liked the back-to-back appearances of “The River,” “The Thunder Rolls,” and “Ain’t Goin ‘Down (‘ Til the Sun Comes Up) in the middle of the show.
But there were lovable and downright emotional moments, such as when Brooks took the time to create some truly lifelong memories for a number of avid fans; dedicate a song to a front row couple who invited him to their wedding next month and hold up a homemade sign that reads “You are the reason I play the guitar” and tell the audience, “Well, that goes for too me.”
He also put together a totally sensational band. My husband, Jay Perry, a lifelong musician and recording artist, said the band was the musical equivalent of watching the Founding Fathers sign the Declaration of Independence.
Garth Brooks and his longtime band bow to more than 50,000 enthusiastic fans at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on July 17, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Jay Perry
Five of the seven members (including Brooks himself) have been together since the beginning of his career; Guitarist Ty England was his classmate at Oklahoma State University; and the guy he calls “The Rookie” of the group, violinist Jimmy Mattingly, has been with him for 21 years. The band’s synergy was breathtaking; The stage, which is right in the middle of the audience, is huge, so they are often very far apart physically, but they are narrow as a drum. He also has two stunning backup singers, Vicki Hampton and Robert “Bob” Bailey, who have also been with him since the early 1990s. A true family; and you will feel like part of this family for the night.
When I told friends that I had the privilege of seeing Mr. Garth in concert and interviewing him, the praise was invariably exuberant; Words that came were passionate, authentic, humble, real, sweet, and sincere. And really, he’s as nice in person as you would like him to be. But because he’s so down to earth and a little self-deprecating, the range of his talent is even more impressive when you see him live.
Case study; After the last two songs, “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance,” Brooks does a section of the show he calls “Housekeeping,” in which he selects song requests from the signs held up by the audience. After performing the 90s hits “Ireland” and “In Lonesome Dove”, Brooks discovers a sign that reads “Rocket Man”. He grabs his guitar and grimaces that says something like “Well, dang, OK, I’ll try …” then he pauses and begins a flawless acoustic version of Elton John’s hit.
Garth Brooks speaks to reporters on the eve of his sold out concert on July 17 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Gephardt Daily / Patrick Benedict
Brooks told reporters at Friday’s press conference that he regretted not adding a second show in Salt Lake City, and he apparently spontaneously announced during the performance that he would like to make another appointment with Rice-Eccles in 2022, do whatever it takes to Get tickets. I will never forget the last night. Brooks himself told Gephardt Daily: “Music is the great unifying factor for me, it is the great healer. For us, separation is the last thing we want. It’s united, isn’t it? Even the pledge of allegiance says indivisible, and right now we’re as divided as possible so I’m all for the healing, and I think music is a great way to do that. “
Garth Brooks takes the stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd at The Westerner in Salt Lake City, Friday, July 16, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily / 8 Ten, Inc. (Courtesy)
For more information on Brooks’ tour click here.