TX:Promoted by Varnell Enterprises. Reviewed June 19, 1996. Garth Brooks kicked off his six-night stand in the Southland with a blistering, nearly two-hour show Wednesday night that was a high-octane mix of ’70s-era rock extravaganza and Barnum & Bailey. The country music phenom’s set contained all the hallmarks of a Brooks performance — band members excitedly traversing the stage in a full run, Brooks rocking on his heels and shaking his fists aloft to signal approval of the crowd’s enthusiasm, and a playlist of hit songs that galvanized the crowd. Playing L.A. for the first time in 3 1/2 years, Brooks’ arrival was met with the crowd’s deafening roar. (He concludes at the Forum tonight before heading to the Pond in Anaheim for a trio of shows.)
From the opening number, “Old Stuff” (one of the current singles off his Capitol Nashville disc “Fresh Horses”), to the moving set-closer, “The Dance” (arguably one of the best songs written in the past 20 years), Brooks’ pace was relentless.
He slowed down just long enough to don a guitar or quickly introduce a tune.
Rock music fans are considered a maniacal lot. But even the most enthusiastic gathering would pale by comparison to Brooks’ zealous followers, whose constant roar Wednesday night made it almost impossible to hear the entertainer.
But the roar is clearly what pushed Brooks to new heights: the more loudly the audience responded, the more animated Brooks became.
In March, Brooks became the bestselling solo artist in history, with more than 60 million discs sold (he is second in sales only to the Beatles).
He could easily rest on his laurels and please his followers by putting together a best-of show, as many of his musical influences have done.
But he has chosen to push himself, embarking on the most extensive tour undertaken by any country music artist and one that will likely wrap by setting an attendance record as the concert industry’s largest indoor roadshow.
Brooks’ vocals remained solid through the perf. His prowess was particularly evident when aided by his seven-member band on backing vocals.
Their top-notch mix on such tunes as “We Shall Be Free” helped to hammer home the song’s message of tolerance.
More than an hour into the proceedings, when most artists wane, Brooks again turned up the heat during “Fever,” a fast-paced ditty and the first single off the new album. He also roared through the almost de rigueur “Friends in Low Places.”
During the first of his two encores, Brooks delighted the house as he climbed aboard drummer Mike Palmer’s rising octagonal cocoon for “Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)” and rode the mammoth structure like a bucking bronco in a moment seemingly inspired by either “Dr. Strangelove” or a Van Halen concert.
Brooks — whose pop music faves have heavily influenced his music — proved just how much a child of the ’70s he is during the perf’s second encore, when he offered pristine workings of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and the evening’s closer, Don McLean’s 1972 classic “American Pie”– a literal show-stopper under Brooks’ extremely capable aegis.