Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood at the LA Forum – 7/21/17
The number one selling artist in the United States (More than Elvis and Second only in worldwide sales to The Beatles) Garth Brooks, brought his wife, Trisha Yearwood, and enough energy to light up Los Angeles, to The Forum on Friday night.
It’s been 21 years since I saw Garth Brooks (Also at the Forum) and I remember wondering, how on earth can he run around and sing like that all night long!? You’d think at 55 years old that there’d be a step off the pace… Nope. As soon as Garth hit that stage, he created a 2 1/2 hour sonic boom. Influenced at a young age by the showmanship and theatrics of bands like KISS, Garth channels his inner rock god and makes sure that every inch of the stage has been touched by his boots.
As Garth mentioned a few times, the LA crowds get a bad rap when it comes to Country Music, but this opening night crowd proved that just because we’re in LA, doesn’t mean that we ain’t in the know… The crowd was on its feet from start to finish, singing every line of every song and hanging on every word the King of Country had to say.
Is Garth a smart man? Yes, he is. He let everyone know that even though he’s got new music out, he knows that aint’ what put our butts in the seats. And with that he launched into an evening of hits that spanned his entire career. “Rodeo”, “Unanswered Prayers”, “Friend’s in Low Places” and “Thunder Rolls” (with their special 3rd verses) “Callin’ Baton Rouge”, “The Dance” “Aint Going Down ‘Til The Sun Comes Up“…hardly time for a breath (For him OR us!)
Things did slow down momentarily when Garth started singing “In Another’s Eyes” which signaled the entrance of his wife, “Miss Trisha Yearwood”. Their heartfelt duet led to a very short set by Trisha that included not NEARLY enough of her songs (In my humble opinion). “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)”, “How Can I Live”, “Wrong Side of Memphis”, “She’s In Love With The Boy”; All Great songs, but no “Walkaway Joe”?! No “The Song Remembers When“?! No more duets with Garth?! Yes! I want my cake and eat it too! I guess the lack of Trisha meant there was more time for Garth… Every cloud and all…..
The band supporting these two artist was amazing and if you’ve been to a Garth show before, then you’ve seen them. On Garth’s crew the least tenured member, “The rookie”, fiddle player extraordinaire, Jimmy Mattingly, has been with Garth for almost 22 years. The rest of his band consisting of “Bruuuuuce” Bouton, (steel guitar), Mark Greenwood (bass), Dave Gant (keyboards, fiddle and “everything else”) and the one who’s been around the longest, Mike Palmer (drums) are tight and FUN! The band is rounded out by members of Trisha’s longtime band who now make up one large family since the two stars started touring together in 2000. They include guitarist Johnny Garcia and keyboardist Steve Cox. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special mention to the three background singers who provide phenomenal harmonies and vocal support that really help some of these songs come to life. From Trisha’s side of the fence comes solo artist and opening act, Karyn Rochelle. From Garth’s camp he has two vocalists that have been touring with him since the early 90’s; Robert “Bob” Bailey, and the amazing Vicki Hamilton, who displayed her incredible talent during Garth’s rendition of “Shameless”. All of these musicians would dance around the stage with the biggest of smiles, waving, pointing and interacting with the audience on all sides of the oval stage. They help make the Garth show an Experience!
If you’ve ever been to a Garth show, you’d know that he has an affinity for reaching out to his audiences. I’ve seen videos on this tour alone where he’s given a guitar to a young fan, and I’ve seen him come into the crowd to croon to an 89 year old lady. This show was no different as Garth picked out a sign in the crowd that read “We’re having a Baby! “Boy? Girl?”. Well that was enough to peak Garth’s interest as he had the young couple come up to the stage where they gave Garth an envelope that had an answer to their question. He ripped open the envelope and let them know the big secret by telling them that he already had three of these. (That would be girls). He then told them that if he was still around when that little girl went to college, he would pay for it. From anyone else this would seem like a throwaway line. But I believe it was said with the greatest of sincerity.
Garth’s encore was very special as he came out with only a guitar and started interacting with the crowd and taking their requests (Most often by reading the many signs that people had made for the show). We were treated to snippets of songs along with stories. Songs included Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”, “That Girl Is a Cowboy”, “Ireland” complete with ball shaped drum cage turning Green White and Gold, “The Change”, “She’s Every Woman”, “Wrapped Up In You” and a crowd sung version of the great George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning“. The evening was capped off by the return of the band who launched into “Standing Outside The Fire”.
True icons don’t come around too often. Garth is an artist to be cherished and adored. Beg, Steal and Borrow to get a ticket to this show if he passes through your neck of the woods….He’s one of the Good ‘Uns.
The show was opened by newcomer, Mitch Rossell who is making a name for himself as not only a performer, but a songwriter. He is the writer of Garth’s current single, “Ask Me How I Know“. He came out with an acoustic guitar and sang a few of his own songs which were very well received by the growing Forum audience.
After Mitch, Garth and Trisha’s back up singer, Karyn Rochelle came out with her band and pumped up the crowd with a short, spunky set that set the tone for the rest of the evening.