by Jim Ridley
Our sister blog Nashville Cream attended last Thursday's late show the first night of Garth Brooks' nine-show flood-relief benefit at Bridgestone Arena, and you can just imagine how those jaded music snobs with their vinyl pressings and their Sufjan Stevens T-shirts and their bookmarked copies of Chunklet tore Garthzilla a new headset:
We’ll just get it out of the way — the show was PHENOMENAL. While that’s certainly not a spoiler, this review is full of them. So if you’re holding tickets to any of this week’s remaining seven shows, consider yourselves alerted. Really, this show felt like it was as much about us as it was about Garth Brooks. The experience of raising double-fisted tall boys, digesting chicken fingers and grinding from side to side while belting out the "ooooo-WAYYYY-sis" high notes of “Friends in Low Places” as part of a deafening crowd of thousands wasn’t just a highlight of last night, but maybe even a highlight of our life — and one that made us proud to be American.
Wha? Believe it. They're right, too: We got to see the slightly extended Friday-night show (more Trisha Yearwood, more acoustic encores), and it was a huge-hearted, flag-waving, fist-pumping spectacle that rivaled the last Springsteen show we saw at Bridgestone for grand arena gestures. Even the acoustic ballads sounded anthemic, and the fervor with which the crowd sang along to standards like "The Dance" and "Unanswered Prayers" induced chill bumps. And yeah, the climactic belt-along with "Friends in Low Places" was better than a rollercoaster. (One question: What's this environmental protest song about "shameless as a manatee?")
If you've got seats for the remaining shows, consider yourself lucky. This is one ticket you don't want to hawk on Craigslist.