Garth Brooks at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville: A Master Class Show

What happens when you order a Garth Brooks cocktail?

You start with a generous flow of George Strait, add a hint of James Taylor, add a few shots of Bob Seger, a bit of Randy Travis and a touch of Billy Joel.

Mix it up – along with plenty of other musical ingredients – and you’re served a brimming night of Brooks on stage at the Ryman Auditorium.

The Country Music Hall of Famer and seven-time CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year returned to the historic concert hall on Friday for the first of two sold-out solo evenings; Brooks gave a total of three acoustic concerts in Nashville this week, starting Thursday with a one-night performance at the Grand Ole Opry House.

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And – unlike the Nissan Stadium show that was derailed by severe storms earlier this year – the only moment that looked like lightning was when Brooks stormed across the stage to hit the backs of Ryman’s benches with thunder. .

Not too bad for a guy who once said he was so humiliated by the Ryman scene that he didn’t set foot in the venue until 2002, years after his career launched.

“Folks, we’re in the mother church of country music,” Brooks, wearing jeans and an Oklahoma state shirt, said from the stage Friday night. “Forget the artist standing on this stage. Nothing but respect happens in this house.”

Garth Brooks and Kent Blazy perform "If tomorrow never comes" during the NSAI 50 Years of Songs concert at the Ryman Auditorium on September 20, 2017.

For the two-and-a-half-hour show, Brooks played the role of DJ for a mixtape of the songs that went into its creation. He wove a sonic web that drew lines from James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” to Brooks’ “The River” and Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” to “The Thunder Rolls”.

Brooks’ acoustic appreciation for songwriting – he performed parts of over 40 songs on Friday night – has grown from “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, “Rocketman “by Elton John,” He Stopped Loving “by George Jones Her Today”, “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis, “You Look So Good In Love” by George Strait, and the list goes on.

Still, his jukebox redesign received the biggest applause when it landed on a Brooks original, as the audience request a capella ovationed “The Change”, honky-tonkin ‘”Two Of A Kind, Workin’ On A Full House “and stomping fan favorite” Callin ‘Baton Rouge “.

“You are just pouring gasoline on a fire,” he said after a raucous standing ovation, “I love it.”

Between songs, Brooks shared light moments from his songwriting origin story, tooth-cutting nights in Oklahoma bars chasing his dreams as a young songwriter. in Music City, entering the Country Music Hall of Fame and receiving a call from Bob Dylan.

Seems familiar? This isn’t the first time that Brooks has associated its musical history with a first-class showmanship and charm for all. Brooks launched a five-year residency in Las Vegas in 2009 that saw the artist come out of early retirement before returning to a full-fledged tour.

Garth Brooks holds a press conference ahead of his Saturday night concert at Nissan Stadium on Friday July 30, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

His extensive stadium tour – which was postponed earlier this year in part due to the increase in COVID-19 cases – ends in 2022, Brooks said. A new residence may be in his future.

Brooks sold the Ryman show Friday on limited capacity; despite the demand for tickets that would have reached tens of thousands, the public filled the balcony and the first dozen rows of the first floor of the tabernacle.

“We’re talking about doing a residency, like this one here,” Brooks said. “We’re just trying it out and seeing.”

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a night with Brooks without some Trisha Yearwood songs.

Brooks – aka “Mr. Yearwood” – has invited his successful country singer wife for a handful of songs, including a debut duet of Brett Young’s 2018 song “The Ship And The Bottle,” a standout rendition of “In Another’s Eyes. and the couple’s cover of “Shallow” from the 2018 blockbuster “A Star Is Born”.

Yearwood closed his appearance with a trip to ’90s country excellence by resisting the single “She’s In Love With The Boy”.

“I love singing with you,” Brooks told Yearwood. “It never gets old, never to sing with you.”

Yearwood replied, “I love singing with you.”

Brooks ended his first set with a tribute to songs from The Last Call – “American Pie” by Don McLean, “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and a raucous rendition of “Friends In Low Places”.

Hitting spectators in the front row and tilting his hat in appreciation on the balcony, he returned for an encore that included a few thanks from fans – like leading a proposal to “She’s Every Woman” – and the final bow of at night, “The Danser.”

“Thank you for the respect you have shown this house,” said Brooks. “Thank you for the respect you have shown the music. For Trisha Yearwood, and especially for myself, I love you very much. Love each other. Thank you for my life.”

Brooks returns to the Ryman on Saturday night. The show is sold out.


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