It's no secret that Garth Brooks has long been my musical North Star. Garth's melodies provoke so many childhood memories for me. I'll never forget running errands on Saturday mornings with my grandpa, the music turned up loud, and both of our voices joining together to sing "Papa Loved Mama" as the wind blew through our hair with the windows down. We were vastly different ages, yet completely connected and in sync, because that was the magic of Garth. I was only three years old when "Shameless" was released, and although I didn't yet understand the lyrics (hell, I didn't really understand them until I met my husband), it remained my favorite song throughout my entire life. His songs defined eras in my life, and even now, when I put on a Garth record, it's that same warm feeling akin to returning home when I miss it the most.
Thus, it's also no surprise that Garth Brooks' show was something I've been looking forward to since the day he announced his World Tour. And, judging by the crowd that showed up in Anaheim, California, on Sunday night, I wasn't the only one.
Garth has remained an artist of the people, pricing all of his tickets- from the floor seats to the nosebleeds- exactly the same to give equal opportunity to fans. His merchandise is priced as though it were 1992 again, with t-shirts for only $25 and commemorative posters for $10. He's not a greedy artist returning to the scene post-retirement for a pay day. It's clear via his actions that he's back because he loves what he does.
And then when he performs...it's like a master class in what true entertainers should exemplify. He is full of gratitude and graciousness, more energy than I've had since I was 19-years-old, and he sings every song like it's his last.
When I interviewed Jill Moreland for Mentor Monday, I remember her telling me to earn your paycheck every day. I've applied that advice to everything in my life now, striving to work as hard as I can and earn it, and I've begun to realize this is what all of the greats do.
I certainly witnessed Garth earning every penny from each ticket purchased, from every piece of merchandise sold, from every album ever purchased. This was more than a job, and it was more than an obligation. He seemed genuinely excited to be there, and from the deafening roar of the crowd (it's three days later, and I'm slowly regaining my hearing), the feeling was reciprocal.
Garth played all the hits and crowd favorites, ranging from "Callin' Baton Rouge" to "Rodeo" and "Friends in Low Places," inserting just a couple of his newer songs into the set. He left it all on the stage, just as he does every night, and he rarely relies on the smoke and mirrors of production to back it all up.
He's just Garth. And that's a hell of a lot to live up to.