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Garth Brooks’ double-header at the Sprint Center includes a cameo from some Royals

The Royals’ Whit Merrifield describes Garth Brooks concert appearance

Kansas City Royals infielder Whit Merrifield talks about going on stage with other teammates at Saturday night's Garth Brooks concert.
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Kansas City Royals infielder Whit Merrifield talks about going on stage with other teammates at Saturday night's Garth Brooks concert.

So, it turns out Garth Brooks is a matinee idol and a late-night rock star, something he proved Saturday at the Sprint Center with some help from the Kansas City Royals. He also made a woman cry, on purpose, but they were tears of joy.

From midafternoon to the brink of midnight, Brooks threw down two sold-out shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, each lasting close to two and a half hours. They differed from each other, but both mustered and sustained the same onslaught of energy and elation that Brooks generated Friday night in the first of the weekend’s five shows.

Of the three, Saturday night’s show was the most dynamic, but not by much. During “Friends In Low Places,” instead of crew members invading the stage brandishing air cannons to rain streamers and confetti upon the crowd on the floor, as they did during the afternoon show, Brooks enlisted Royals players Eric Hosmer, Drew Butera, Whit Merrifield, Brandon Moss and Travis Wood, all sporting white jerseys. The place went from bonkers to berserk.

The early show started around happy hour, but it was evident that many of the 17,000 in the place had indulged in some day drinking. From the opening chord of “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” the mood in the place was nothing short of unhinged bliss. The sing-alongs started immediately, even when Brooks dipped deep into his catalog. His set list didn’t vary far from Friday’s. It included favorites like “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” “The River” and “Two Piña Coladas,” a song Brooks recorded in 1997, one of country music’s earliest forays into the breezy beach-pop inspired by Jimmy Buffett.

The difference between all three shows was the encore. During the afternoon show, Brooks took requests from signs fans were waving at him, which led to more obscure or deep-album cuts like “It’s Your Song,” which he sang a cappella, and “Which One of Them,” a track from “Ropin’ the Wind,” his first blockbuster album.

During both Saturday shows, Brooks recalled his long history in Kansas City, going back to when he was performing at the Kansas City Opry, the Wyandotte County Fair, Guitars & Cadillacs and the American Royal before selling out Kemper Arena. He probably expresses affection for every town he plays in, but he seems to have a deeper connection to Kansas City; thus his allegiance to the Royals.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood talked lovingly about Kansas City and the Royals during press conference Friday, May 3, ahead of their show that night at Sprint Center.

Saturday night’s encore was something entirely different. He again took requests, including one from a woman with a large, green poster that listed some “to do” things for the month of May. One was to open a business (a wine bar). Another was to hear Brooks perform “Standing Outside the Fire.” He redeemed that request but only after giving her something to hang in her wine bar (which he suggested should be called the Oasis). After declining to sign her poster, he unstrapped his acoustic guitar, signed it and turned it over to her, pitching the lady into a torrent of happy tears.

Both Saturday shows included sets from Brooks’ bride, Trisha Yearwood, who has no problem filling an arena with energy and grace. The kiss cam during “She’s In Love With the Boy,” one of her biggest hits, is a reliable source of comedy and charm. Her duet on “Georgia Rain” with the song’s co-writer, Karyn Rochelle, one of Brooks’ backup singers, was a highlight of both shows.

The band and crew introductions were transformed into a manic event both times, especially when crew members flashed a Chiefs logo or put on a Royals cap. Each detonated a colossal cheer or a chant. Hearing 17,000 people sing “Let’s go, Royals” evoked sweet memories each time.

During both shows, Brooks delivered the usual seismic moments: furious renditions of “Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up),” “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and “The Thunder Rolls.” Both times, he let his guitar tech strum the opening chord to “Friends in Low Places,” four notes that elicited a roar so loud it drowned out the next few chords.

Like Friday’s, Saturday evening’s encore turned into a cover affair. Brooks paid tribute to his affection for James Taylor with a short medley, then segued into one of his own with a JT flavor, “She’s Every Woman,” followed by a cover of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.”

He ended with a cover of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” which started yet another joyous sing-along from a crowd that included some teens who would have been in preschool when Brooks did his nine-show stint at the Sprint Center in 2007 and couples old enough to be Brooks’ parents.

By the time they took their final bows Saturday night, Brooks, Yearwood and their large band had performed three shows and almost eight solid hours of music in the previous 28 hours or so — and planned to get up Sunday and do two more shows. It turns out the matinee idol, late-night rock star and former college track athlete also has the stamina of a triathlete.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set lists

Saturday afternoon

Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance; Rodeo; Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House; The River; Two Piña Coladas; Papa Loved Mama; Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up); Unanswered Prayers; If Tomorrow Never Comes; That Summer; Ask Me How I Know; The Thunder Rolls; In Another’s Eyes; XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl); How Do I Live; Wrong Side of Memphis; Georgia Rain; She’s in Love With the Boy; Shameless; Callin’ Baton Rouge; Friends in Low Places; The Dance.

Encore: You Move Me; It’s Your Song; Which One of Them; Wrapped Up In You; Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old); American Honky-Tonk Bar Association; Make You Feel My Love; Standing Outside the Fire.

Saturday night

Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance; Rodeo; Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House; The River; Two Piña Coladas; Papa Loved Mama; Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up); Unanswered Prayers; If Tomorrow Never Comes; That Summer; Ask Me How I Know; The Thunder Rolls; In Another’s Eyes; XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl); How Do I Live; Wrong Side of Memphis; Georgia Rain; She’s in Love With the Boy; Shameless; Callin’ Baton Rouge; Friends in Low Places; The Dance.

Encore: Come Back to Me Again; Standing Outside the Fire; Make You Feel My Love; Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old); Carolina In My Mind/Fire and Rain; She’s Every Woman; Night Moves; Wrapped Up In You; Piano Man.

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