JENNINGS: A big show for country music legend

In this July 8, 2016, file photo, Garth Brooks sings "Ain't Going Down" for his opening song during a performance at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

It’s been seven years since Garth Brooks came to town in 2015 for a four-day, six-show stop at what was then known as First Niagara Center, and before that it had been 17 years since the country music superstar had performed in Buffalo.

Brooks has a Saturday, July 23 date set for Highmark Stadium, so he will be performing to about the same number of fans in one night that he did over six shows at the arena. Brooks will also be performing in the round.

Garth Brooks is the top-selling solo artist of all-time, and second only to The Beatles in overall sales. As a point of reference, Brooks has sold more units than The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen combined.

His impact on the country music genre cannot be overstated, Brooks did for country music what Elvis and The Beatles did for rock and roll. And as of today, rock music is a fading genre, and country music is thriving.

Brooks still has many years ahead of him as a viable touring act. Brooks accomplished the unthinkable not just when he walked away from touring and recording in 2000 to spend time with his family, but when he returned to touring 13 years later and his popularity had not waned.

When Brooks released his self-titled first album in 1989, the pop charts were dominated by artists like Milli Vanilli, Will To Power, Roxette and Fine Young Cannibals. It was his next album, “No Fences” with classics such as “Friends in Low Places,” “Thunder Rolls” and “Unanswered Prayers” that catapulted Brooks to international superstardom. Both of his first two albums reached diamond sales certification, which means over 10,000,000 units sold.

One or two hit records do not always equate to longevity in the music industry, and Brooks churned out eight mega-selling records from 1989-1999 before releasing “Garth Brooks in ... the Life of Chris Gaines,” a rock record that failed to meet expectations, but didn’t negatively impact Brooks’ career.

Even though he has achieved commercial success as a studio musician, it is in the live setting that Brooks cemented his legendary status. Before Garth Brooks came along, most country music shows were reserved affairs where the artist did not move around the stage much, and connected with the audience through personal stories during song introductions.

In a live setting, Brooks combined the musical sensibility of great country performers with the showmanship of famous arena rockers. Brooks’ live shows are spectacles with plenty of room for audience participation, and Brooks still performs with a child-like enthusiasm and commands the stage in a way that may only be matched by Bruce Springsteen or Mick Jagger.

Tickets for the Garth Brooks show at Highmark Stadium were supposed to go on sale last month but Brooks delayed the sale out of respect for the victims of the Tops shooting in Buffalo. The new sale date is Friday, June 17 at 10 a.m. and they will all be priced at $98.50.

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