Alongside his long-running Brooks Family Band, legendary country artist Garth Brooks kicked off the first of four weekend shows in San Antonio on Friday to a rearing, ready, and raucous crowd packed tightly into the floor of the AT&T Center up into every imaginable nook, cranny, and seat of the stadium's lofty championship-banner-adorned rafters. It's not surprising then that the energy rolling throughout the building was already through the roof even before a single note from one of the most decorated performers and country artists of all-time was struck.
"People remember that energy," Brooks said in front of a pool of reporters leading into the show, "Watch what happens...It'll start 100 miles per hour and won't slow up all night."
True to his word, the arena ignited with the sustained-fervor of a Manu Ginobili three-pointer and never let up with men, women, children, and families of all ages reveling in, soaking up, and cheering along with every twist, turn, surprise, and moment of the evening's opening songs.
The excitement escalated further as a hidden trap door suddenly appeared several songs in elevating grammy-award winning artist and Garth's wife, Trisha Yearwood, onto the stage. A duet with Brooks ensued in addition to Yearwood performing a song of her own (from the movie Con-Air
, actually), "How Do I Live Without You". While the couple has collaborated on each other's recordings, performing live together on stage is still somewhat new for both of the artists, having begun the first of such appearances during the latter portion of the Brooks residency at the Wynn in Las Vegas. In fact, Yearwood even admits to still occasionally having a few pre-show butterflies. Both acknowledge that their partnership on the stage has grown since then, and it surely was a sight met with great admiration, approval, and applause from Friday's audience goers.
The surprises for the evening were far from over, however, as the world class entertainer and his production team still had plenty of tricks up their sleeves for a show Brooks had personally promised would get "stupid crazy." And that it did.
A glowing ball at the center of the stage encasing the drummer lifted up off the stage and into the air while two of the Brooks Family Band members also were elevated up on both ends of the behemoth stage. As a fiddle roared soon thereafter, Brooks successfully completed an unforeseen and mind-boggling running stage-length slide that from the vantage point of the floor appeared to be beyond anything supernatural. Of course, an aerial shot on the massive TV screen above the stage would reveal the trick to have been assisted by a several yards long tread-mill-like conveyor belt that, even then, had seemingly appeared completely out of thin air. Powerful strobes of light flashed upward and outward into the audience appropriately accentuating the most thunderous moments of "The Thunder Rolls" and the rest of the evenings wilder numbers. It was an epic undertaking.
Yet for all those feats of technical effects, engineering, production, and lighting, which energized the crowd into a frenzy, it was Brooks and his long Family Band at the center of it all passionately giving it their all from a repertoire of some of the most popular, successful, and powerful country songs of all time. They even delighted the San Antonio crowd with a performance of two acoustic numbers by hometown hero, George Strait, to punctuate Brooks' inaugural return to the Alamo City after an eighteen year hiatus.
As Brooks told reporters before the show, "The ace in our hole is that music, that set list... It's not really an act. It's a natural progression, and the music is going to take you there."