Garth Brooks and fans rock into early morn­ing

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY BRANDY MCDON­NELL Fea­tures Writer bm­c­don­nell@ok­la­homan.com

Garth Brooks nearly brought the lyrics of his 1990s smash “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” to life Fri­day as he launched his whirl­wind home-state tour stop at Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena.

The coun­try mu­sic su­per­star fi­nally doused his Fri­day night dou­ble­header about 2:50 a.m. Satur­day af­ter blaz­ing again through his an­themic closer “Stand­ing Out­side the Fire.” He had played more than four and a half hours over two shows for en­rap­tured au­di­ences un­daunted by de­lays.

“You guys don’t care what time it is, do ya?” the Ok­la­homa na­tive ex­claimed af­ter breez­ing through his trop­i­cal chart­top­per “Two Pina Co­ladas” with his sec­ond nearsell­out crowd. “Peo­ple, if you came to raise hell, you picked the right guy on the right night.”

The leg­en­dar­ily in­ex­haustible per­former, who was born in Tulsa and grew up in Yukon, met his match — about 18,000 of them, ac­tu­ally — in the sec­ond of his four shows planned Fri­day and Satur­day at The Peake. Al­though Fri­day’s late con­cert on “The Garth Brooks World Tour with Tr­isha Year­wood” was sched­uled to start at 10:30 p.m., Brooks, 55, didn’t make his dra­matic en­trance un­til 12:20 a.m. Satur­day.

“Thanks for let­ting us com­ing home to the great state of Ok­la­homa to play mu­sic. We’re way be­hind sched­ule, which means we’re gonna be here all night, peo­ple!” he de­clared.

De­layed start

The first stage spec­ta­cle of Brooks’ home­com­ing stop didn’t end un­til 10 p.m. Fri­day, and with some con­cert­go­ers slow to exit the build­ing, the late show was de­layed to the early hours of Satur­day. With Paul McCart­ney play­ing there Mon­day, The Peake wasn’t avail­able Sun­day when the de­mand for tick­ets to the last Ok­la­homa stop on Brooks’ come­back tour bal­looned to four shows, so he opted to book the rare night­time dou­ble­header.

“Hats off to the build­ing,” Brooks said, ad­mit­ting that he was wor­ried fans would be up­set at the af­ter-mid­night start.

Far from an an­gry mob, the late-night crowd seemed even more ear­split­tingly en­thu­si­as­tic than the ador­ing au­di­ences Brooks typ­i­cally has drawn on his block­buster three-year world tour, which is cel­e­brat­ing the end of the 14-year hia­tus he took while rais­ing his three daugh­ters.

“I’m like 89 years old now. And if this big a— isn’t gonna make it through four shows in 24 hours, I’m gonna need you to carry it,” joked Brooks, who also was to play back-to-back con­certs at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Satur­day.

Al­though he had al­ready per­formed a more than two-hour con­cert, Brooks, wear­ing his sig­na­ture wire­less mi­cro­phone, still dashed around the stage with seem­ingly bound­less en­ergy and still of­ten paused in or be­tween songs to scream back at the deaf­en­ing crowd.

From the time the fa­mously fran­tic Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Famer made his first leap from the drum­mer’s plat­form to the vast stage, the fans matched him pri­mal scream for pri­mal scream. The bois­ter­ous opener “Baby Let’s Lay Down and Dance” quickly gave way to his bluesy clas­sic “Rodeo,” un­leash­ing a non­stop, im­pos­si­bly loud sin­ga­long.

“Oh, you re­mem­ber the old stuff,” Brooks quipped with a grin. “I’m just like you. … I come to a con­cert to hear the old stuff.”

Hit pa­rade

As the clock ticked to­ward 1 a.m., the fans proved they weren’t too tired to dance and sing through ev­ery num­ber and shriek their ap­proval for ev­ery se­lec­tion on the sprawl­ing set list. Backed by his equally tire­less and tal­ented band, Brooks re­sponded with a showy hit pa­rade — “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” “Papa Loved Mama” and “That Sum­mer” — as well as an im­pres­sively thun­der­ous crowd scream-off.

Dur­ing the fre­netic crowd-pleaser “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up),” he sprayed the fren­zied fans with bot­tled wa­ter, filmed them and him­self with a video cam­era and then climbed to the top of the spher­i­cal drum­mer cage, which be­gan to spin and rise above the stage along­side the plat­forms for the key­board and pedal steel play­ers.

But the tone was al­most rev­er­ent as thou­sands of fans turned their glow­ing cell phones aloft into a starry con­stel­la­tion to go with “The River” and then crooned fer­vently of “Unan­swered Prayers.” A sim­u­lated storm rolled through with “The Thun­der Rolls.”

“There’s no way you know this song,” Brooks said in­cred­u­lously, as the fans be­gan singing along to his new heart­breaker, “Ask Me How I Know,” with­out the help of the big-screen karaoke used dur­ing some his shows. “I love Ok­la­homa!”

‘An Amer­i­can Girl’

The whole arena could feel the love as the ro­man­tic duet “In An­other’s Eyes” her­alded the start of Tr­isha Year­wood’s set. The Grammy-win­ning singer’s voice was as warm and lovely as ever as she belted her hits “XXX’s and OOO’s (An Amer­i­can Girl),” “How Do I Live” and “She’s in Love with the Boy.”

“You guys know it’s, like, late right? It’s af­ter mid­night. You guys are so loud. … I can hear you guys all the way down the hall,” she said. “I love Ok­la­homa. The 14 years I had the priv­i­lege of liv­ing in Ok­la­homa, you made me one of your own, so I get to come home, too.”

Tak­ing a re­quest from a fan’s home­made sign, she and her trio of bigvoiced back­ground vo­cal­ists, dubbed “The Wall of Sound,” rev­eled in her sul­try blues-rocker “Wrong Side of Mem­phis,” one of her ‘90s hits that doesn’t de­serve to be for­got­ten.

Tak­ing re­quests

Brooks took over the stage again with a pair of cov­ers he has made his own: his dra­matic read­ing of Billy Joel’s “Shame­less” and his spir­ited ren­di­tion of Den­nis Linde’s “Callin’ Ba­ton Rouge.”

Just one strum of his guitar took the crowd noise to new lev­els of al­most painful vol­ume as the fans rec­og­nized “Friends in Low Places” and ea­gerly wailed along, whoop­ing with joy as con­fetti can­nons rained down on them. They sang along just as ea­gerly, but much more poignantly, to Brooks’ sig­na­ture bal­lad “The Dance.”

The lights had barely gone down when Brooks re­turned for an en­core at 2:15 a.m. He was un­will­ing to go forgo his fa­vorite part of the per­for­mance: house­clean­ing, when he takes re­quests from the home­made signs held up by many of his fans, in­clud­ing two women who were at­tend­ing their 41st Brooks con­cert. They gave the show an emo­tional turn by re­quest­ing “When You Come Back to Me Again,” which Brooks co-wrote for his late mother, Colleen.

It was just Brooks and his guitar as he roamed the stage read­ing the signs and then strum­ming and croon­ing his al­bum cuts “In Lone­some Dove,” “Wrapped Up in You” and “More Than a Mem­ory” as well as the Keith Whit­ley clas­sic “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” His fer­vent cover of Ge­orge Strait’s “Amar­illo by Morn­ing” brought the band back to­gether for the scorch­ing fin­isher, “Stand­ing Out­side the Fire.”

But be­fore his band- mates joined him, Brooks in­vited an­other mu­si­cian to the stage. When he spot­ted Brit­tany Chas­teen’s sign “My hus­band plays mu­sic be­cause of you,” the su­per­star stopped to get a few de­tails about her hus­band, Jonathan Chas­teen, of Vera, who plays in a band called Fam­ily Tra­di­tion.

“Come up here,” Brooks told him. “This is gonna get good.”

At 2:30 a.m., the topselling solo record­ing artist in his­tory stood in the shad­ows of his own stage, smil­ing con­tent­edly as he lis­tened to Chas­teen play one his gui­tars and sing Randy Rogers Band’s “An Empty Glass.” Brooks then joined him for a feisty duet of Joe Nichols’ “Te­quila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” be­fore telling Chas­teen he could keep the guitar he was wear­ing, stun­ning the mu­si­cian and send­ing the crowd into wild ap­plause.

“Thank you, brother, that was fun,” Brooks said.

Only at a Garth Brooks show. Or two.

[PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Garth Brooks per­forms Fri­day evening at the Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena.

[PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Fans wait pa­tiently out­side Ch­e­sa­peake Arena for Fri­day’s first con­cert’s crowd to clear, be­fore hear­ing Garth Brooks and Tr­isha Year­wood per­form their sec­ond con­cert of the evening, early Satur­day.

[PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Thou­sands of fans wait in line late Fri­day in down­town Ok­la­homa City for the sec­ond con­cert for Garth Brooks and Tr­isha Year­wood. Sched­uled to start at 10:30 p.m. Fri­day, the con­cert was de­layed un­til about 12:20 a.m. Satur­day.

[PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Garth Brooks per­forms dur­ing his 7 p.m. show at the Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena in Ok­la­homa City, Fri­day, July 14, 2017.

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