Wednesday, 20 April 2016

REVIEW: Garth Brooks in Hamilton

My first CD ever was a Garth Brooks record. The man is an icon, a legend. So when it was announced that  Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood would bring their Ghostunes tour through Hamilton, ON over the Easter weekend (with FIVE shows), you can say I was just a little bit excited. (This is your fair warning that this review may be slightly biased).

It had been 19 years since Garth's last visit to Southern Ontario and the anticipation was palpable! Garth SMASHED his ticket sales record for both Hamilton & Toronto shows combined ( in 1996) in just 45 minutes! This also represented the biggest four days in the 31 year history of the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton. Tickets were snatched up by fans old and new. The very fact that an artist can come back after a hiatus as long as Brooks, (he famously retired from touring/recording new music to stay home in Oklahoma and raise his three daughters) and break his own records, proves how timeless an entertainer he is That is no small feat!

Canadian country star Brett Kissel opened the first show, playing an acoustic set for fans and living a career dream, as a self-proclaimed huge fan!

Garth Brooks energy is truly infectious. He arrived on stage with a grin so big it only reviled that of every audience member. I think what is so engaging about watching a Garth Brooks show is just how truly genuine and humble he is. There's no acting there. He's the real deal, and he gets it. He acknowledges that fans have paid their hard earned money to spend their night with him, and he doesn't take it for granted.

While he opened his set with the new stuff, Man Against the Machine, Garth didn't hold out on any of his classics. In fact, he told the crowd he knew exactly what they came to hear (the old stuff!), and he delivered.

"Rodeo", "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House", "The River", "Beaches of Cheyenne", "Aint Going Down til the Sun Comes Up", "Papa Loves Mama", "The Thunder Rolls", "If Tomorrow Never Comes" were just SOME of the songs in the first half of the show, before "Ms. Yearwood" (as Garth calls her), came out.

Trisha Yearwood took the stage for her part of  the show after a sweet duet of In Another's Eyes with her husband, Garth Brooks. She then went into her classics, American Girl (X's and O's), How Do I Live, Prizefighter (a new one dedicated to cancer survivors - with an impactful video montage) and of course, She's In Love with the Boy accompanied by Garth Brooks on backup guitar and a really fun audience Kiss Cam - watch close and you'll spot Garth and Trisha. She ended her set with a sweet kiss and an "I love you" from her husband. She has an incredible voice and truly makes it look effortless!!

Garth returned to perform his favourite song live, and also one of my personal favourites, Callin Baton Rouge. SO much fun! The Dance, That Summer and Friends in Low Places, followed.

Then, he somehow managed to turn a sold out arena into what felt like a tiny, intimate venue by taking requests from the crowd. He spotted signs and made shot-outs, and gave some audience members so very special memories. Some of the requests he performed over the weekend included The Red Strokes (my all time personal fave), Ireland, Mom, The Change, When You Come Back to me Again. There's really not many artists out there who can pull out any song from their library of hits at the drop of a hat like Garth did.

He closed the show with an encore of Much Too Young, Standing Outside the Fire,  Fever, and covers of American Pie, Aamrillo by Morning, and Night Moves.

If you were one of the 80,000 people at the Hamilton shows, consider yourself lucky. Garth puts on one hell of a show - there's really no one like him. Two thumbs WAY UP, A++++, She's Gone Country APPROVED! A definite bucket list experience filled with nostalgia that didn't disappoint.

As I mentioned, this was a true bucket list experience for me. We were lucky enough to see the show 3 out of 5 times over the weekend - and from the front row no less!

We were invited for a special behind-the-scenes tour! We got to go under the stage - if you've seen the show you'll know that's where Garth and the team enter and exit from.

We got to see "Garth's Guitars" all lined up and prepped for the show and check out all of the detail that goes in to choreographing a massive sound and light show such as Garth's.

After that, we were lucky enough to help make some dreams come true: we got to help select some lucky fans to upgrade to front row!

We thought it would be nice to choose a mother-daughter group and some Garth super-fans out for a girls night!

Oh what a night!

Check out our video highlights below!

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