GARTH BROOKS: How’s he going to do it again … twice on Saturday?

WhatsOn Mar 25, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The control Garth Brooks has over his fans is almost frightening. No, not almost. It's downright scary.

The 54-year-old American country superstar can bring a crowd to its feet, hollering at the top of their lungs, with the flick of one finger.

He did that several times Thursday, the opening night of his unprecedented five-concert, four-day run at Hamilton's First Ontario Centre.

Brooks had just finished his eighth song of the night, the raucous "Ain't Going Down ('til the Sun Comes Up)."

It's a song where he pulls out all the stops — running precariously across the front of the stage, spraying the crowd with water; climbing on top of a bizarre orb-like structure encasing drummer Mike Palmer's kit and shaking it for all its worth; grabbing a video camera and thrusting it into the front-row faces, making them scream with delight.

He had warned them what to expect at the start of song: "People, today is my day. If you came to raise hell you picked the right time and the right guy."

Then came the finger pointing, at first just a little flick to one side of the audience of some 17,000 people. A deafening roar followed. Then came the boos from the other side, booing not at Brooks but at their rival fans. A flash of a finger, another roar. More fingers, more roars, always at a quickening pace, the back, the front and the sides.

By the end of this little exercise, Brooks had both hands raised toward the roof, head back and eyes to the sky, revelling in the thunderous applause like an old-time tent revivalist.

Godlike adulation on Holy Thursday.

There is a special bond between Brooks and his fans that is rare in the world of entertainment. How much do they love him? By Sunday night, when the last of the five concerts ends, he'll have sold almost 80,000 tickets at $80 a pop for the Hamilton shows alone.

That represents the biggest four days in the 31-year history of FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum). No act can match it, not U2, not Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead or Shania Twain.

To be sure, Brooks works for this adoration. On Thursday night, he and his charming wife Trisha Yearwood performed some 30 songs over two and a half hours, including a 30-minute encore that saw, in 70s prog-rock fashion, the drum cage and two keyboard platforms rise through a cloud of smoke above the main stage for a mind-bending version of "The Fever."

Brooks sang tragic cowboy songs ("Beaches of Cheyenne," "Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old"), good-time drinking numbers ("Two Pina Coladas," "Low Places"), tender love songs ("The Dance," "That Summer") and gospel-tinged anthems ("We Shall Be Free"). Backed by a crack seven-piece band and three backup vocalists, Brooks sang each one with passion, poise and, sometimes, a sense of humour.

And, of course, there was Yearwood, a veteran singer who possesses as good a set of vocal cords as anyone in Nashville. Brooks handed the stage over to his 51-year-old wife about halfway through the show after a hokey, but effective, duet of "In Another's Eyes."

Yearwood showed her stuff on a few of her hits — "She's in Love with the Boy," "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" — but scored big by injecting a new song into her set, "Broken."

She had learned the song for "The Passion," a TV drama depicting Christ's final days that was broadcast live Sunday on Fox, drawing some six million viewers. Yearwood played the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

Yearwood apologized for singing "Broken" to a backing track — the band hadn't yet rehearsed it — but delivered a stunning performance that left her with tears in her eyes.

"Everybody have a blessed Easter," she said.

It's easy for the fans to adopt this loving couple (there was a big wet kiss at the end) as one of their own. They can hardly be classified as "beautiful people." They wear practical clothes that tend to bulge in all the wrong places. If it wasn't for the untold millions of dollars they make each year, you could easily envision having Trish and Garth over to the house for a coffee and some cake.

Still, they do work for their money. Hard. As a matter of fact, after seeing the show Thursday, it's hard to imagine exactly how Garth and Trish are going to pull it off twice on Saturday night and again on Sunday.

Parking could be a nightmare in downtown Hamilton, especially for concertgoers attending the 10:30 p.m. Saturday concert, which follows on the heels of a 7 p.m. show.

Core Entertainment, managers of FirstOntario Centre, are encouraging Brooks' fans to carpool or use public transit, making plans to arrive early.

All HSR routes have been extended early Sunday morning to help accommodate fans leaving the Saturday late show. The last buses leaving from the MacNab Transit Terminal and surrounding area will depart between 2:15 and 2:30 a.m.

Express shuttles to the venue have also been arranged for the late Saturday show, departing every 15 to 20 minutes from Lime Ridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza (in Dundas) from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

Following the show, shuttles will pick up patrons at the same locations they were dropped off and drive directly back to each respective shuttle pickup location. Cost of the shuttle is $10, cash only.

For more information, visit the website coreentertainment.ca.

GARTH BROOKS: How’s he going to do it again … twice on Saturday?

WhatsOn Mar 25, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The control Garth Brooks has over his fans is almost frightening. No, not almost. It's downright scary.

The 54-year-old American country superstar can bring a crowd to its feet, hollering at the top of their lungs, with the flick of one finger.

He did that several times Thursday, the opening night of his unprecedented five-concert, four-day run at Hamilton's First Ontario Centre.

Brooks had just finished his eighth song of the night, the raucous "Ain't Going Down ('til the Sun Comes Up)."

Related Content

It's a song where he pulls out all the stops — running precariously across the front of the stage, spraying the crowd with water; climbing on top of a bizarre orb-like structure encasing drummer Mike Palmer's kit and shaking it for all its worth; grabbing a video camera and thrusting it into the front-row faces, making them scream with delight.

He had warned them what to expect at the start of song: "People, today is my day. If you came to raise hell you picked the right time and the right guy."

Then came the finger pointing, at first just a little flick to one side of the audience of some 17,000 people. A deafening roar followed. Then came the boos from the other side, booing not at Brooks but at their rival fans. A flash of a finger, another roar. More fingers, more roars, always at a quickening pace, the back, the front and the sides.

By the end of this little exercise, Brooks had both hands raised toward the roof, head back and eyes to the sky, revelling in the thunderous applause like an old-time tent revivalist.

Godlike adulation on Holy Thursday.

There is a special bond between Brooks and his fans that is rare in the world of entertainment. How much do they love him? By Sunday night, when the last of the five concerts ends, he'll have sold almost 80,000 tickets at $80 a pop for the Hamilton shows alone.

That represents the biggest four days in the 31-year history of FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum). No act can match it, not U2, not Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead or Shania Twain.

To be sure, Brooks works for this adoration. On Thursday night, he and his charming wife Trisha Yearwood performed some 30 songs over two and a half hours, including a 30-minute encore that saw, in 70s prog-rock fashion, the drum cage and two keyboard platforms rise through a cloud of smoke above the main stage for a mind-bending version of "The Fever."

Brooks sang tragic cowboy songs ("Beaches of Cheyenne," "Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old"), good-time drinking numbers ("Two Pina Coladas," "Low Places"), tender love songs ("The Dance," "That Summer") and gospel-tinged anthems ("We Shall Be Free"). Backed by a crack seven-piece band and three backup vocalists, Brooks sang each one with passion, poise and, sometimes, a sense of humour.

And, of course, there was Yearwood, a veteran singer who possesses as good a set of vocal cords as anyone in Nashville. Brooks handed the stage over to his 51-year-old wife about halfway through the show after a hokey, but effective, duet of "In Another's Eyes."

Yearwood showed her stuff on a few of her hits — "She's in Love with the Boy," "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" — but scored big by injecting a new song into her set, "Broken."

She had learned the song for "The Passion," a TV drama depicting Christ's final days that was broadcast live Sunday on Fox, drawing some six million viewers. Yearwood played the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

Yearwood apologized for singing "Broken" to a backing track — the band hadn't yet rehearsed it — but delivered a stunning performance that left her with tears in her eyes.

"Everybody have a blessed Easter," she said.

It's easy for the fans to adopt this loving couple (there was a big wet kiss at the end) as one of their own. They can hardly be classified as "beautiful people." They wear practical clothes that tend to bulge in all the wrong places. If it wasn't for the untold millions of dollars they make each year, you could easily envision having Trish and Garth over to the house for a coffee and some cake.

Still, they do work for their money. Hard. As a matter of fact, after seeing the show Thursday, it's hard to imagine exactly how Garth and Trish are going to pull it off twice on Saturday night and again on Sunday.

Parking could be a nightmare in downtown Hamilton, especially for concertgoers attending the 10:30 p.m. Saturday concert, which follows on the heels of a 7 p.m. show.

Core Entertainment, managers of FirstOntario Centre, are encouraging Brooks' fans to carpool or use public transit, making plans to arrive early.

All HSR routes have been extended early Sunday morning to help accommodate fans leaving the Saturday late show. The last buses leaving from the MacNab Transit Terminal and surrounding area will depart between 2:15 and 2:30 a.m.

Express shuttles to the venue have also been arranged for the late Saturday show, departing every 15 to 20 minutes from Lime Ridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza (in Dundas) from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

Following the show, shuttles will pick up patrons at the same locations they were dropped off and drive directly back to each respective shuttle pickup location. Cost of the shuttle is $10, cash only.

For more information, visit the website coreentertainment.ca.

GARTH BROOKS: How’s he going to do it again … twice on Saturday?

WhatsOn Mar 25, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The control Garth Brooks has over his fans is almost frightening. No, not almost. It's downright scary.

The 54-year-old American country superstar can bring a crowd to its feet, hollering at the top of their lungs, with the flick of one finger.

He did that several times Thursday, the opening night of his unprecedented five-concert, four-day run at Hamilton's First Ontario Centre.

Brooks had just finished his eighth song of the night, the raucous "Ain't Going Down ('til the Sun Comes Up)."

Related Content

It's a song where he pulls out all the stops — running precariously across the front of the stage, spraying the crowd with water; climbing on top of a bizarre orb-like structure encasing drummer Mike Palmer's kit and shaking it for all its worth; grabbing a video camera and thrusting it into the front-row faces, making them scream with delight.

He had warned them what to expect at the start of song: "People, today is my day. If you came to raise hell you picked the right time and the right guy."

Then came the finger pointing, at first just a little flick to one side of the audience of some 17,000 people. A deafening roar followed. Then came the boos from the other side, booing not at Brooks but at their rival fans. A flash of a finger, another roar. More fingers, more roars, always at a quickening pace, the back, the front and the sides.

By the end of this little exercise, Brooks had both hands raised toward the roof, head back and eyes to the sky, revelling in the thunderous applause like an old-time tent revivalist.

Godlike adulation on Holy Thursday.

There is a special bond between Brooks and his fans that is rare in the world of entertainment. How much do they love him? By Sunday night, when the last of the five concerts ends, he'll have sold almost 80,000 tickets at $80 a pop for the Hamilton shows alone.

That represents the biggest four days in the 31-year history of FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum). No act can match it, not U2, not Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead or Shania Twain.

To be sure, Brooks works for this adoration. On Thursday night, he and his charming wife Trisha Yearwood performed some 30 songs over two and a half hours, including a 30-minute encore that saw, in 70s prog-rock fashion, the drum cage and two keyboard platforms rise through a cloud of smoke above the main stage for a mind-bending version of "The Fever."

Brooks sang tragic cowboy songs ("Beaches of Cheyenne," "Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old"), good-time drinking numbers ("Two Pina Coladas," "Low Places"), tender love songs ("The Dance," "That Summer") and gospel-tinged anthems ("We Shall Be Free"). Backed by a crack seven-piece band and three backup vocalists, Brooks sang each one with passion, poise and, sometimes, a sense of humour.

And, of course, there was Yearwood, a veteran singer who possesses as good a set of vocal cords as anyone in Nashville. Brooks handed the stage over to his 51-year-old wife about halfway through the show after a hokey, but effective, duet of "In Another's Eyes."

Yearwood showed her stuff on a few of her hits — "She's in Love with the Boy," "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" — but scored big by injecting a new song into her set, "Broken."

She had learned the song for "The Passion," a TV drama depicting Christ's final days that was broadcast live Sunday on Fox, drawing some six million viewers. Yearwood played the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

Yearwood apologized for singing "Broken" to a backing track — the band hadn't yet rehearsed it — but delivered a stunning performance that left her with tears in her eyes.

"Everybody have a blessed Easter," she said.

It's easy for the fans to adopt this loving couple (there was a big wet kiss at the end) as one of their own. They can hardly be classified as "beautiful people." They wear practical clothes that tend to bulge in all the wrong places. If it wasn't for the untold millions of dollars they make each year, you could easily envision having Trish and Garth over to the house for a coffee and some cake.

Still, they do work for their money. Hard. As a matter of fact, after seeing the show Thursday, it's hard to imagine exactly how Garth and Trish are going to pull it off twice on Saturday night and again on Sunday.

Parking could be a nightmare in downtown Hamilton, especially for concertgoers attending the 10:30 p.m. Saturday concert, which follows on the heels of a 7 p.m. show.

Core Entertainment, managers of FirstOntario Centre, are encouraging Brooks' fans to carpool or use public transit, making plans to arrive early.

All HSR routes have been extended early Sunday morning to help accommodate fans leaving the Saturday late show. The last buses leaving from the MacNab Transit Terminal and surrounding area will depart between 2:15 and 2:30 a.m.

Express shuttles to the venue have also been arranged for the late Saturday show, departing every 15 to 20 minutes from Lime Ridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza (in Dundas) from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

Following the show, shuttles will pick up patrons at the same locations they were dropped off and drive directly back to each respective shuttle pickup location. Cost of the shuttle is $10, cash only.

For more information, visit the website coreentertainment.ca.