Glitch-powered Garth Brooks rocks Boise ‘all frickin’ night’ at historic show
Michael Deeds, Idaho Statesman
Published at | Updated at
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — You couldn’t blame any of the 42,000 fans for pinching themselves Friday night.
Was that actual live music cranking on the Boise State Broncos’ football field, where no major concert had ever been allowed?
Was that truly Garth Brooks, the country superstar who hadn’t performed in Boise for 27 years?
And whaaa — hold on! What were these mysterious, 16-ounce cans being sipped by blissful Boiseans in the normally alcohol-free bleachers of Albertsons Stadium?
Take another gulp of that $10 beer and slap yourself, cowboy. This was real.
It also was unreal (that Coors Light tall boy price, right?) and surreal — in a super-fun, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-Wranglers way.
Playing the first of two consecutive nights at Albertsons Stadium, Brooks stampeded the stage dressed like a ranch hand (cowboy hat, jeans) and outfitted like a pop diva (headset microphone).
He began at 9:15, later than scheduled, ostensibly to give concertgoers time to enter. The historic crowd was the largest ever at Albertsons Stadium (topping 36,864 at a BSU-BYU football game in 2012). The lines were slothlike, but at least there were two opening acts: The Crew Band (Brooks’ road crew) and Granger Smith.
By the time Brooks and his 10-member backing posse hit the stage and launched into the singalong stomper “All Day Long,” fans were bursting at the seams with anticipation.
But just as the party started, it abruptly ended — during the third song.
Brooks’ gigantic light-and-sound rig, which resembled an alien spaceship, let out an ear-splitting pop during “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House.”
Then the stage went nearly silent.
Oblivious to the audio problem, Brooks kept singing. His band kept jamming. The bemused audience tried to help by shrieking along loudly. But Brooks was forced to stop the show and exit the stage.
For several minutes, only the noise of a helicopter filled the stadium as a film crew circled above. When the glitch finally was repaired, the 10-minute delay had transformed the evening.
Strangely, in a positive way.
Brooks reappeared even more fired up than he had been, pointing fingers and pumping up fans.
“You guys are fantastic!” he told the audience.
The night evolved into something greater than a meticulously rehearsed stadium show, where between-song banter is virtually the same in every city.
“We’re gonna be here all frickin’ night now!” Brooks proclaimed, yanking off his cowboy hat. “I say let’s have a night we’ll never forget!”
Singing with a voice that’s still rich and spot-on, Brooks, 57, uncorked hit after hit with his crack band: “The Beaches of Cheyenne,” “Two Pina Coladas” — and “The Thunder Rolls,” complete with a gut-rattling thunderclap effect, just to prove that the sound was 100-percent fixed. Even in the highest bleacher seats, fans stood and waved their arms to the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark.”
When NBC’s “The Voice” star Blake Shelton suddenly appeared, nobody was surprised. It had been revealed in advance that a one-song duet would be filmed and recorded.
And so the unique mini-disasters continued. After Brooks taught the crowd how to sing along to “Dive Bar,” his new single with Shelton, the men launched into the tune and paraded around the stage.
Afterward, Brooks put a hand to his ear monitor and was informed they needed to do the song over.
“Are you telling me I sucked?” Shelton joked.
So Brooks, Shelton and the entire crowd sang the song again.
Before leaving the stage, Shelton also performed a solo acoustic version of his No. 1 hit, “God’s Country,” showcasing his booming voice.
Then it was Brooks time again. Throwing his head back, eyes closed, arms held wide to the sky, he basked in The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” Billy Joel’s “Shameless” and “The Dance,” from Brooks’ 1989 self-titled debut album. Confetti-shooting BSU cheerleaders joined Brooks during his signature tune, “Friends in Low Places,” rocking the stadium.
Brooks got intimate during a four-song solo acoustic segment. But it was getting late. Soon, he ended the show with a raging “Standing Outside the Fire.”
The high-energy, happily unpredictable concert had lasted just over two hours.
“Tell me it’s like this all the time here!” Brooks exclaimed at one point, beaming at the Albertsons Stadium crowd.
Sorry, no can do. (But this should help change that — right, BSU?)
And not to be a spoiler, Saturday ticket-holders, but your concert can’t possibly be quite this memorable. This certainly wasn’t Brooks’ first stadium “Rodeo,” but things he couldn’t control are what made Friday extra special.
“How this concert started,” Brooks told the delighted crowd, “it could have gone dreadfully wrong. And because of you, it turned out a ****ing great night!”
WATCH A HIGHLIGHT VIDEO OF THE CONCERT FROM OUR OWN NATE EATON: