Garth Brooks and fans rock into early morning
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Garth Brooks performs Friday evening at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
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.
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.
Garth Brooks performs during his 7 p.m. show at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, July 14, 2017.