It’s hard to describe the energy that took over downtown Nashville on Mon., Oct. 24, as superstar Garth Brooks took the stage at Ascend Ampitheater in a free show that included one exciting surprise after the next.
The event served as a celebration of Brooks becoming the only artist in history to achieve seven Diamond certified albums – meaning he’s sold 10 million copies of each album – beating out the Beatles, who have six. Governor Bill Haslam kicked off the evening to honor Brooks and his accomplishment, noting that all seven albums were recorded in Tennessee. “This state has treated me like a native son,” Brooks said gratefully.
But the evening was so much more than a way to celebrate the singer’s historic achievement, it also served as a tribute to the decades that Brooks has been in the business, not only inspiring up and coming acts, but his contemporaries as well. His influence was exhibited when Chris Young and Jason Aldean came out to perform “The River” and “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” respectively,” with Young citing the classic hit as one of his “favorite songs of all time” and proceeded to sing a soulful duet with his idol.
Elated cheers came from the audience as wife and fellow superstar Trisha Yearwood came out to perform a sweet duet of “In Another’s Eyes.” “As an artist, I’m proud of the person you are,” she said to her husband, calling him “kind” and “compassionate” saying is the “same guy she met in 1987.” She also treated fans to a lovely rendition of her hit “Walk Away Joe” at the request of her husband. Kelly Clarkson also brought the crowd to its feet when she was introduced by Brooks and sang an up tempo, soul-induced version of “We Shall be Free,” showing off her impressive high notes.
With so many appearances from country’s best, no one thought it was possible for the night to get any better – until Brooks kicked off his solo set, performing a string of countless hit after hit. He began with the classic “The Thunder Rolls” off his best-selling studio album, “No Fences,” that had everyone in the crowd singing along and followed it up with “Two Pina Coladas.” “You guys came here to sing,” he hollered as the crowd cheered in agreement. The excitement continued with a performance of his first No. 1 hit, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “Papa Loved Mama” and “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” the latter of which he was joined by fiddle player Jimmy and had everyone on their feet, dancing along to the upbeat tune.
After performing his signature song, “The Dance,” Brooks took off his cowboy hat and placed it over his heart, humbly proclaiming his love for everyone in the audience, a proclamation he made more than once throughout the evening. The show concluded with an all-star rendition of “Friends in Low Places” where Brooks was joined on stage by Young, Clarkson, Yearwood and more, along with a fitting fireworks display to commemorate the No. 1 solo artist in the history of music.
It was clear throughout the festivities that this meant just as much to the artists paying tribute to the superstar as it did to the man himself. Whether it was Aldean revealing that he had posters of Brooks on his wall growing up, and Brooks returning the compliment by calling Aldean a “muscle” in country music that inspired him to become a better artist, it was strongly evident that each participant was both humbled and honored to be a part of such a special event. The show was reminiscent of the sendoff given to the man Brooks said was “all I ever wanted to be in life” – George Strait – on his Cowboy Rides Away Tour that featured tributes from everyone from Aldean to Vince Gill. Except this time, it wasn’t a sendoff, but a genuine thank you to a humble man that has impacted many both musically and personally – and he’s not done yet.