When you walk into a room full of reporters and cameramen in hoodies and ball caps, with big, warm smiles, you’d be excused to think that the man who is arguably the most famous voice in country music was one of the crew members.
But whether it’s the facade of a seasoned performer or genuine earnestness, Garth Brooks seems to be able to be anyone’s best friend—or at least for two nights, the size of anyone in Edmonton.
“You know, I guess the thing with Edmonton – the same for all the places you enjoy – it’s the people, right?” he said as he sat on the edge of a podium talking to reporters Friday afternoon.
“And these people don’t just show up — they show up ready to play and they show up with an expectation.”
Brooks is no stranger to Edmonton: In 2017, he sold not one — not even two or three — but nine concerts with his wife Trisha Yearwood at Rogers Place: “All those nights were bad nights.”
In total, some 160,000 fans took part in those shows five years ago. He said the level of dedication raises the bar for him and his crew.
Brooks said that the 2017 shows also made him have high hopes for audiences to appear at Commonwealth Stadium Friday and Saturday nights.
“We want these people to get out of here because they think this was a better show than the arena show. So that’s what we came for.”
The sold-out Edmonton shows are the only Canadian dates on a tour that has taken him across the United States and will end in Dublin, Ireland.
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Brooks said he hopes for polite but energetic crowds, adding that there is a level of sincerity towards his fans.
“They know their country music inside out.
“When you play country music for a country music audience, there’s a way it sinks into your soul.”
Music brings back memories, Brooks said, explaining that his goal is to quickly turn the show from a concert to a huge party of 61,000 people.
“If you can get into that party mode in the first two songs — and then Katie just lock the door, it’s going to be fun.”
Garth Brooks excited for 2nd show in Edmonton
Brooks said his goal is to get people walking out of Commonwealth Stadium who love each other more than they did when they came in: “Not an easy task here, because they come in and already love each other!”
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“Garth Brooks music (is) is all about inclusion, not exclusion. We can’t do it alone. We need eachother. So black and white have to learn to work together. Red and blue have to work together. Canadians, Americans need to learn to work together, right? So that’s what we do.”
Music brings people together who otherwise wouldn’t have anything in common, Brooks said.
“If they were in the same room, maybe they wouldn’t agree on anything. But there they are, friends in low places, arm in arm, right on the river.
“That’s a beautiful thing, it tells me that music could very well be the voice of hope for me.”
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Brooks said he takes the audience at his concerts and listens back to them singing along with The river: “I’ve been doing this for 100 years. Right? And I still cry like a baby when it happens. So I think that’s something fun that I’m looking forward to.”
The stadium tour actually started in 2019, but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brooks said canceling the tour was the right thing to do, but added that he’s so much more excited about it now.
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There’s nothing quite like performing live, he said, adding that he feeds “1,000 percent” on the energy of the audience.
He said he learned that lesson during the COVID-19 pandemic, when live concerts weren’t possible, so in the United States they were replaced by drive-in shows. Brooks put together a filmed concert, which he says was attended by an estimated 750,000 people at drive-in movie theaters across the United States.
“All you do is perform in front of the cameras,” he said, explaining that the singing and cheering of the fans makes a difference to him as an artist.
He also noted that he is only part of the show’s coming to life. He was performing with Blake Shelton in Boise, Idaho when they ran into technical difficulties.
“So Blake Shelton is going to surprise us on dive bar, everyone knows it’s coming, and the sound system starts beeping and going off. Now you are in front of all these people. Now you realize what you are without your crew.
“Without the crew, without the band, without the people, it just wouldn’t work. So this is a statement of honesty – not humility – I’m lucky enough to be a part of this.”
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For anyone going to the concert, it’s important to remember that Commonwealth Stadium has a clear bag policy. Wallets or clutches that you cannot see through are not allowed.
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The city of Edmonton will have park-and-ride rides to and from the stadium at six locations, similar to Edmonton Elks games, but it will cost $6 for the two-way special event.
All Commonwealth Stadium park and ride services begin two hours before the event starts and end once the stadium is clear after the event.
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