When I was 13, my mother, sister and I moved to Spokane.
The kids I met in Spokane were already going to live rock concerts in the old Boone Street Barn or the Spokane Coliseum. My first concert was BTO. The second was Aerosmith. I was hooked on live music.
I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts over the past 47 years.
In 1997, I won some Garth Brooks tickets for his first live Spokane concert. It was surreal walking in and no one was frisking you. There were no semi-sized dumpsters being filled with smuggled bottles of booze. No weed was being smoked outside or inside.
Some guy in line outside asked me if I had ever been to a country and western concert before. No, I said.
He said you will love this experience. It was a family event with little kids, parents and folks of all ages.
Folks could walk to the stage and take pictures without security hauling you to the back door and confiscating your camera. It was mind altering. The guy’s advice was right on.
I remember walking in to the old Villa Bar in Lewiston one night after a softball game and hearing the folks inside singing a song, all together. I did not know the song. I asked the bar tender what was going on with the song. He gave me my pint and said, “It’s Garth Brooks.”
OK, who’s Garth Brooks?
“Friends in Low Places” was the song.
Forward to the 1997 Spokane concert with Garth. The same thing happened. People were all singing together to most of his songs.
I sort of knew the song by then, at least the chorus. After the concert, we bought the first Garth Brooks CD box set. I still have it, although both of my kids have scuffed them up a bit.
My son bought my wife and me tickets to see Garth’s Stadium Tour in Boise at Albertson Stadium a few days back. We had tickets for the Saturday show. Friday’s event sold out fast and added Blake Shelton to sing with Garth for a new song called “Dive Bar.” Some 42,000 people showed up for Friday. Saturday was close to sold out. The downtown area was packed out. Every parking lot was full. People, thousands of them of all ages, were making their way to the blue pony stadium. The parking lots and grass spots were full of tailgaters, drinking adult beverages and cooking food on the black top.
It was very festive.
Our seats were on the west side of Albertson Stadium in the shade, thank the Lord. It was hot. The blue turf was totally covered, thankfully for the two guys, one in front of us and one behind us, who were wearing University of Idaho Vandal caps.
It made me feel a little more comfortable being next to kin folk from the northlands of Idaho.
Neither guy burst into flames being on the major rival’s turf, either.
We were surrounded by folks of all ages, again just like in Spokane in 1997. There were urban cowboys, real cowboys, Daisy Duke-short-wearing cowgirls and children of all ages. There were white-headed folks like me. It was packed, from the floor to the press box and inside every luxury box above.
The crew band, made up of tour crew musicians, opened up and did four songs.
Then up and rising country and western star Dylan Scott of Louisiana did some of his stuff, including a Keith Whitley song and his No. 1 chart song, “Hooked.”
Then the thunder started to roll.
Brooks has been fortunate to keep a solid band around him his whole career. Some members have been with him his entire career. It’s a 10-person band. They are some of the best in the country and western music business, probably the entire music business.
The stage was a behemoth, sort of in the round. First time I saw that was with the group, Yes, on the Tormato Tour in 1979.
From side to side was probably hash mark to hash mark on a football field and 30 yards deep. It was pretty impressive with huge video screens on all four sides.
Steps went from upstage to down front.
The lighting grid is all LED and bright with video screens, running up the stage poles on all sides.
It was something to see for sure. It was unmatched is my guess.
Brooks started at 7:48 p.m. and stopped at 10:21 p.m. Then he came out for the encore and stopped at 11:08 p.m.
He never stopped.
Brooks did all the old songs and some new, including acoustic songs with just a guitar.
The effect of hearing nearly 40,000 people standing and singing in unison multiple times was almost overwhelming. It was so powerful. It went on for three hours and 15 minutes.
Mick Jagger ain’t doing that.
It was an awesome experience. My guess is that it was unprecedented in the entertainment world and in any music genre.
Download some Garth Books and give him a try. Go see him live of you can. You will love it.
Sayre of Lewiston served as regional director to former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.