Thousands of Garth Brooks fans descended upon downtown Nashville last night for the country star’s massive concert celebration. The event was held to mark his seventh career diamond album, a feat that no other music artist in history has ever achieved. Fittingly, Brooks threw a party for his fans that few other country stars could ever pull off.
Unlike his emotional, first-ever show at the historic Ryman Auditorium earlier this year, Brooks seemed grateful but laid-back. Although there were a few teary-eyed moments in the beginning, those feelings quickly culminated into pure joy. The first half of the show featured an array of special guests, some of which were even a surprise to Garth himself. He kicked things off by introducing a fellow Oklahoma native who Brooks credited as one of his biggest inspirations. The crowd roared with delight as Reba McEntire strode out on stage to perform one of Garth’s earliest hits, “Not Counting You.”
Chris Young had the challenge of following Reba, but blew the crowd way with his impressive rendition of “The River.” Jason Aldean also joined Brooks and tipped his hat to the late Chris LeDoux with a short but sweet version of “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” Before the duet, Aldean explained just how influential Brooks was to him as an aspiring artist. “It’s weird for me to say this, but I used to have posters of you on my wall,” he admitted. “You broke down a lot of doors for me, thank you so much.”
Brooks’ wife and musical partner Trisha Yearwood took the stage next, and the duo shared some adorable banter before rolling into 1997’s “In Another’s Eyes.” As he does any time she takes the stage with him, Brooks requested Yearwood to perform her solo hit “Walkaway Joe” as a special treat. He looked on with a sense of bewilderment at her talent, even after all these years.
Longtime friend and collaborator Steve Wariner popped in for “Longneck Bottle” before being lured back onstage by fellow surprise guest Kelly Clarkson, who requested to hear his 1987 hit “The Weekend.” After Clarkson performed “We Shall Be Free,” her favorite song since she was 10 years old, she and Brooks stood happily on the side stage and watched their friend perform. It was another reminder of just how personable and humble Brooks is. Sure, this night was about him becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time, but he still spent most of the night admiring the talents of others.
Still, there were plenty of solo Garth performances to be had. Eager fans got to hear him run through condensed versions of “Papa Loved Mama,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “Two Pina Coladas,” “Unanswered Prayers” and “The Dance.”
Even at the end of the night, when he was presented with his shining glass trophy in honor of his seventh diamond album, he couldn’t help but thank those who came before him.
“All I ever wanted to be in life was George Strait,” he said, also crediting Randy Travis, Merle Haggard and Keith Whitley as the heroes that got him to where he is today.
The night came to a close with a rousing singalong of his signature song, “Friends in Low Places.” As his friends circled around him and fireworks exploded in the air, he gave fans one last bow before leaving the stage. Although most were sad to see the night end, it’s comforting to know that Brooks has no plans of stepping away from country music again any time soon.