Concert Reviews

Garth Brooks brings a once-in-a-lifetime show to Dusty Armadillo

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When the Garth Brooks Dive Bar Tour at Dusty Armadillo was first announced I couldn’t help but imagine what the show might be like. I have been to the Rootstown club many times and have taken in ten of Brooks’ shows since the early 90’s. So, getting a good image in my head was easy. After seeing the concert on Monday (10/28), the actual experience was far better than any I could even imagine.

The Dive Bar Tour was organized as a radio promotion tool for the song, “Dive Bar” by Brooks and Blake Shelton. Tickets for each concert are not being sold, and are only available through multiple country radio contests. The approximately 700 winners were in attendance on Monday, along with more news and media coverage for a concert than I have seen in a long time.

Hats off to Brooks and his team for not having actual tickets, but instead the winners names on a list. This process made it near impossible for any winners to sell their tickets for what you would believe to be top dollar to any ticket broker. The number of tickets distributed for the concert were also held to a minimum as to not overcrowd the club for the show. The result was a great sized crowd that still had room to move.

Before Brooks ever entered the club, he was busy greeting fans who weren’t lucky enough to get tickets and were waiting in the parking lot for a glimpse of the 57-year-old singer.

Brooks then made his way to the stage where he was greeted by a thunderous round of applause. He kicked off with “All Day Long” from his latest album, Fun. The proximity of fans to the stage at Dusty Armadillo made his infectious personality stand out even more as he worked his way around waving and pointing at folks in the crowd.

This is one of my shots with my cell phone since cameras were not allowed into the club – Photo by Charlie Kriak

While greeting the crowd Brooks explained that he was under the weather and had a bit of “the crud” as he called it. You would have never known from his performance.

During the 90-minute set the singer covered his hits like “Two Pina Coladas,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “To Make You Feel My Love” and his cover of Billy Joel’s “Shameless,” which topped the charts in 1991.

The Dive Bar Tour gives Brooks a chance to go back to the kind of clubs where he played when he was starting out in the 80’s. One of the stops on the tour included Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas where Brooks played while he was first honing his craft.

The tour also gives Brooks a chance to play some of the music from his nights performing in the “dive bars.” He received a great crowd reaction and had everyone singing along when he jumped into a cover of David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name.” He then showed more his his musical tastes by adding covers of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” Don McLean’s “American Pie” and one that was a favorite when he performed around his home in Stillwater, Texas, “Fishin’ in the Dark” from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Brooks was definitely at home in the small venue of the Dusty Armadillo. He seemed to get more energized as folks sang along to every song, and he was happy to oblige by pointing the microphone at the unison of voices and balancing himself with one hand on the low ceiling above the stage.

Of course he played “Friends In Low Places,” but closed with what many consider his signature song “The Dance.”

It was such an awesome experience seeing Brooks in a “dive bar” setting. The entire evening almost seemed unreal and from the reaction of the crowd many felt the same way. You are almost in awe at first, like watching a movie that you get so pulled into that you forget to eat your popcorn. Brooks draws you in with great music and a stage presence that is second to none in any genre of music.

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