I walked out of Allstate Arena at 1:15 am on Sunday, September 7th and sent one text reading “that was the best concert I’ve ever been to.” In a little over two hours and 27 songs later, Garth Brooks had made his 5th show in Chicago one to remember. Garth was only one aspect of the concert, however. Crew, stage hands, the band, and the crowd all came together to make the show simply magical – at one point Garth even declared, “Hands down this is the best night we have had here in Chicago.”
Walking into the arena, there was a lot of anticipation. The stage was at one end of the arena with Garth fans 360 degrees around the stage that featured a cube video screen in the center. I met one man who had made the trip from Ireland, people who simply added the show to their summer concerts, and a girl who had a Garth Brooks concert on her bucket list (so she attended three in one weekend).
The set kicked off with “Man Against The Machine”, a new song that is expected to be on Garth’s next release around Black Friday. It didn’t take long for the crowd to sing along, however, as he quickly went back in time to play some of his classics. “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind,” and “Beaches of Cheyenne” had the crowd singing just as loud as Garth himself.
There was no shortage of hits as Garth continued with “The River” and “Papa Loved Mama.” The crowd continued to stand on their feet as the show continued (we never sat down that night). Upon seeing the faces in the crowd, Garth Brooks shouted, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re just getting started. I waited too long for this!” Once again, the hits just kept coming. He played “Unanswered Prayers” and “Thunder Rolls” before he launched into his new song “People Loving People” with words on the video board so that the crowd could sing along to the song as they had been doing all night.
Having spent the beginning of the night running around the stage, climbing the drummer’s cage, and jumping around, Garth took a short break as he let his wife, Trisha Yearwood, take the stage after he joined her on “In Another’s Eyes.” Trisha sang three songs of her own before Garth once again joined her for her latest single, “PrizeFighter”. Although he wasn’t singing, it didn’t mean Garth took a 15 minute break. Garth acted as a guitarist to back Trisha up as she belted out hit after hit. You could see the joy on Trisha’s face as she stared out into the crowd with awe and commented “I expect the screaming for the whole Garth Brooks thing, but for the Trisha Yearwood thing is a little overwhelming.”
Garth finished the night with even more hits (yes, he has more). “Shameless,” “Friends in Low Places,” and “The Dance” acted to finish out Garth’s set, but that didn’t mean he was quite ready to leave the stage. He came out once more to cover Aerosmith’s “Fever”. I don’t want to ruin the encore for this of you planning to go to a show this weekend or on one of the other dates, but Garth took the show to a whole ‘nother level. After a minute to catch his breath, Garth once again grabbed his guitar and gave us a special acoustic performance to finish out the night. He played “Alabama Rain” and “Cold Shoulder” in addition to “Ireland” which spawned a few in the crowd to proudly wave the flags of their native land. To close out the night, Garth once again invited Trisha to the stage for his favorite Trisha Yearwood song, “Walkaway Joe”.
It wasn’t too big of a surprise that this show was the best I had been to as the hype for Garth’s return was massive. The TV specials and stories others had told me didn’t quite get me ready for the Garth experience, however. There is nothing that could have gotten me ready for that night – the only question now is when can I go back?
Although only three cities for the tour have been announced, Garth has said that he plans to hit all the US dates that he toured between ’96 and ’98 as well as adding dates around the globe. Chicago is just the beginning of this journey. If show #5 was anything to show how the rest of the tour will be, every night will be a night to remember. There is no end to the madness that is Garth Brooks – let’s hope he doesn’t disappear for another 16 years anytime soon.
Garth Brooks | Saturday, September 6th | 10:30pm Setlist:
1. Man Against The Machine
3. Two of a Kind (Workin’ On A Full House)
4. Beaches of Cheyenne
5. The River
6. Papa Loved Mama
7. Ain’t Going Down (‘Til The Sun Comes Up)
8. Unanswered Prayers
9. That Summer
10. Thunder Rolls
11. People Loving People
12. In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
13. American Girl (Trisha Yearwood)
14. How Do I Live (Trisha Yearwood)
15. She’s In Love With The Boy (Trisha Yearwood)
16. PrizeFighter (Trisha Yearwood w/ Garth)
17. Callin’ Baton Rouge
19. Friends In Low Places
20. The Dance
22. Every Time That It Rains
23. Alabama Clay (acoustic)
24. Ireland (acoustic)
25. Cold Shoulder (acoustic)
26. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
27. Walkaway Joe (duet w/ Trisha Yearwood)
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