Two minutes before Garth Brooks launched into the first of seven sold-out shows at the Spokane Arena on Thursday, a clock began counting down on four giant on-stage screens.
As the screens rose, revealing Brooks’ band, so too did the crowd, a sea of cowboy hats lifting as one.
Then, all of a sudden, there was the man himself, holding the Entertainer of the Year trophy he won at Wednesday’s Country Music Association Awards.
With a wild yell to the crowd, Brooks launched into “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance.”
The crowd roared along, earning an approving “Oh, you came here to sing!” from the country music star.
About 30 minutes into the show, Brooks told the crowd that he was “like 102 years old” and that the only way he would get through his seven-show run at the Spokane Arena was if the crowd picked him up and carried him.
But as it turned out, Brooks didn’t need much help.
His lip syncing at the CMAs upset a few fans, but the vocal rest seems to have done him well. Though a little raspy, Brooks’ voice was strong, more than able to sing the “cowboy songs” he promised fans.
Brooks’ merch draws fans
In the hours leading up to Brooks’ opening act, more than a few fans took a moment to outfit themselves with the star’s apparel.
After all, the day after a concert is like the first day of school: a chance to show off new clothes. And on Thursday evening, the Integra Telecom Meeting Room was the hottest shop in town.
Brooks’ selection of merch, as well as merchandise for his wife, country singer Trisha Yearwood – who will join Brooks for shows two through six – and opener Karyn Rochelle, took up the whole of both meeting rooms.
Just for Spokane fans, Brooks was selling a blue T-shirt with his silhouette over the American flag above “Spokane,” “Spokane Arena” and the dates of his Spokane concerts, and a green shirt with records on one side and the tour logo on the other (both $25).
There was also a gray baseball tee with orange sleeves ($20) and a black tote bag ($20).
There was also a selection of women’s shirts, sweatshirts ($45), a black zip-up jacket with gray sleeves and orange accents ($50), plus three different styles of T-shirts with tour dates on the back (all $25).
For those with enough concert shirts at home, hats, tumblers ($25), key chains ($7), bracelets ($5), magnets ($10), coffee mugs ($15), koozies ($5) and CDs ($15) were also available.
Yearwood had shirts of her own ($25-$40), perfume ($20), cookbooks ($20-$30), a cup set ($15) and a key chain ($10) for sale.
Look for a full concert review online Friday and in print Saturday.