The Garth Brooks concert I attended was an erratic heartbeat of sound and light and energy.
It was loud. The music pulsated through the Saddledome in Calgary causing people, even staid and non demonstrative people such as myself, to stand up and wave their arms and cheer.
And then, without warning, the concert was soft and almost magical as the singer crooned a tender love song and the lights from thousands of cell phones could be seen moving like a gentle wave throughout the crowd like so many candles in the darkness.
Mostly the concert was simply a giant get together of country music fans, young and old, fans who were here to celebrate one of their favourite stars.
I’m not a super Garth Brook fan, but when one of my daughters invited me to go with her to the concert I suddenly became one.
“Garth Brooks,” I gushed. “I love him.”
“Mom, do you even know what he sings,” she asked me, laughing.
“Of course,” I replied. “Didn’t he do that song about a dance or something?”
Anyway, it came to be that the children and the husbands got left at home and we headed off to Garth Brooks (the one who did the song about the dance) our make up and our smiles as fresh as a new day, our blue jean skirts short and very hip and our enthusiasm at a concert level high.
We were pumped!
We arrived minutes before the show was about to begin and raced across the parking lot so we could be in time to join the throngs of concert goers who were moving inch by painful inch into the Saddledome.
We found our way to our seats which involved walking up, up and up some more. We walked until the stage became a tiny dot in the distance.
Then we sat down.
I sank down thankfully, cursing the fact that I had found these little silver sandals in my closet at the last minute and actually decided to wear them. The pain they caused was excruciating and I immediately slid them off. I was happy to be at the concert, but even happier to be there in my bare feet.
It took awhile for Garth himself to make an appearance on stage, being he was the superstar of the evening. The fans waited and waited some more before he finally arrived, but when he did, the Saddledome became charged with an electric energy.
“Wow!” I said, a totally inadequate statement in view of all the cheering and lights and action going on.
And so it began. The concert. Garth Brooks did not disappoint his fans. He was there to entertain and that’s exactly what he did.
He sang all the songs the fans knew and a few more that they didn’t. Still they cheered him on. And even me, who teeters on the peripheral edge of being a country music fan, got caught up in the concert goer mentality and when I looked around to see who that crazy woman yelling and waving her arms was, I realized it was me.
But, it wasn’t until the very end of the concert, I truly became a fan.
Garth had sang what I thought was his final song, The Dance,’ and made his exit.
I thought the concert was over.
But, it turned out I was wrong.
After a few minutes, he returned to the stage. And then the lights died down and for just a few moments in time, it was just a man and his guitar up there on the stage. He sang requests and he sang oldies and goldies and, without even knowing it, he sang himself right into my memories.
Suddenly, the Saddledome and all the fans and the cheering faded away and I was sitting beside my brother in our humble living room. We had sang away the night into the wee hours of the morning. He was playing his old guitar and we were belting out our own very off key version of ‘Cool Water by The Sons of the Pioneers.’
I thought those days and the music would last forever. But, it turned out, I was wrong.
My brother died a few years ago and his guitar sits, unused and still, in a corner in my living room.
But for one moment in time, a huge name in the country and western music industry did me a big favour. He did it without even knowing it. He took me back to a time when there was just my brother and me and an old guitar and music. I will be forever grateful for that memory.
And grateful to Garth Brooks for bringing it back!