Another banner was unfurled in the Sprint Center on Saturday night. In the north end of the arena, next to the flag heralding his nine-show siege of Kansas City in November 2007, which drew more than 164,000 fans, also hangs a flag celebrating Garth Brooks’ more recent accomplishment: seven sold-out shows over two weekends in May 2017, which drew nearly 120,000 fans.
Those who waited the longest to see Brooks were treated to an opening set by Shenandoah, a stalwart ’80s country band, who treated the crowd with hits like “”Next to You, Next to Me,” “Two Dozen Roses” and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too).”
After that, it was all Garth. Like the six preceding shows, Saturday’s showcased Brooks’ deep catalog of hits and his inimitable way of keeping a huge crowd in a prolonged state of euphoria, in this case for a few minutes short of three hours.
Sporting a white Kansas City Royals jersey bearing the number 7 (for seven straight sold-out shows), Brooks took the stage with his large, formidable band and galloped through an opening set that varied little from the preceding shows’. It included favorite anthems and ballads like “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” the show’s opener, “The River,” the gleefully Gothic murder ballad “Papa Loved Mama,” the gleefully sappy “Unanswered Prayers” and “The Thunder Rolls,” which was accompanied by salvos of canned thunder. And like the six preceding shows, Brooks was joined on vocals, loudly and boisterously, by nearly all of the 17,000 fans in the joint.
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And for the seventh show in a row, his wife, Trisha Yearwood, delivered a set of her own hits, including “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” “How Do I Live” and “She’s In Love With the Boy,” which featured another charming and comical episode of the Kiss Cam on the huge video screen that hovered above the band.
During Yearwood’s set, after he accompanied her on “Walkaway Joe,” Brooks was joined on stage by Brenda Tinnen, the Sprint Center’s general manager, who orchestrated the ceremonial unfurling of the banner, which prompted a long, volcanic ovation from the crowd, after which Yearwood said to Brooks coyly and sarcastically: “Wow. You got a banner. What are you doing later?”
He brought the first set to a close with several of his most beloved songs, none more beloved than “Friends in Low Places,” which he sang with uncorked exuberance, like it was only the third or fourth time he’s delivered it, not the umpteenth thousand. That followed band introductions, which included a “Happy Birthday” serenade from Brooks and the crowd to Bruce Bouton, his longtime band member, and two rowdy ovations for the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, prompted by crew members sporting patches or gear bearing each team’s logo.
The encore primarily featured Brooks filling the arena with solo/acoustic songs, most of which were prompted by fans’ signs bearing song titles. Brooks joked with and cajoled a few of the fans up front, telling one young lady who looked to be in her teens, “I’ve got boots older than you,” and taking a box of peanut M&Ms from another. He also engaged a young boy being held by a woman Brooks assumed was his mother. When he asked the woman the boy’s name, she didn’t know it: She’d been handed the boy by his mother so he could get closer to Garth. It worked. Brooks ended up signing the boy’s hat – his name was Waylon, by the way – but only after advising him he’d been wearing it backwards.
Brooks brought the evening and his two-weekend occupation of downtown Kansas City to a close with two covers and one of his rowdiest hits. After orchestrating a visceral sing-along to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” he unleashed a molten version of one of his own hits, “Standing Outside the Fire.” After that, he and his band took their bows amid gales of applause and cheers. The torrent of appreciation didn’t end, though, so Brooks re-emerged and serenaded the crowd with a version of “American Pie” that elicited yet another hearty and heartfelt singalong. And like the banners heralding his unprecedented conquests of the arena, nearly 10 years apart, the joy and elation he mustered hung in the air long after he left the stage.
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; Walkaway Joe; She’s In Love With the Boy; Shameless; Callin’ Baton Rouge; Friends In Low Places; The Dance. Encore: You Move Me; Cowboy Bill; Learning to Live Again; Wrapped Up In You; The Red Strokes; In Lonesome Dove; Amarillo By Morning; Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old); More Than a Memory; If Tomorrow Never Comes; Piano Man; Standing Outside the Fire; American Pie