After a nearly 20-year absence from the Seattle area, Garth Brooks (joined by Trisha Yearwood) made a lifetime ago feel like yesterday for the sold-out crowd at the Tacoma Dome Friday night.
The last time Garth Brooks played in the Seattle area, Bill Clinton was president and “Titanic” was crashing its way to 11 Academy Awards.
Joined by his wife, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks made a lifetime ago feel like yesterday for the sold-out crowd at the Tacoma Dome on Friday night, erasing his nearly 20-year absence with a joyous romp through some of Brooks’ most famous hits.
Moments before he got things going with “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” a list of accomplishments scrawled across the giant LED screen that dominated the simple stage setup. Brooks, as if anyone in attendance needed a reminder, is the best-selling solo artist of all time in the United States and he is currently on the eighth leg and third year of the longest tour of all time.
Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood
Friday, Nov. 3, Tacoma Dome. More shows 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5; Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma; tickets start at $61.65 (866-448-7849, 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com/garthbrooks)
You wouldn’t have known it from Brooks’ enthusiasm. Though he joked about being old and out of shape, the truth is he looked energized and seemed genuinely excited to be sifting through his enviable collection of hits.
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“Who remembers the old stuff?” he teased before launching into “Rodeo,” off his 1991 album “Ropin’ the Wind.” Brooks built off that hit of nostalgia with two No. 1 singles: 1990’s “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” and “The Beaches of Cheyenne” off the 1995 album “Fresh Horses.”
Though the Tacoma Dome is often a frightful echo chamber, Brooks showed his mastery as a performer by turning in a strong vocal performance throughout that was aided by his longtime, crackerjack band. Never too bass heavy, the mix allowed Brooks’ voice to shine through on songs like “The River,” which became the first of many singalongs, and the sweet “Unanswered Prayers.”
Brooks managed to sneak a new one in, “Ask Me How I Know,” off his 2016 album “Gunslinger.” Since the show was being taped for a live album, Brooks gave the audience a little behind-the-scenes look at how those are recorded by asking them to sing the chorus several times. Though they were a little shaky at first, the final take had Brooks beaming with pride.
After a sinister version of “The Thunder Rolls,” Brooks was joined by Yearwood for the duet “In Another’s Eyes” before ceding the stage to her for an all-too-brief set of songs including “XXX’s and OOO’s” and “How Do I Live,” which she wryly noted she had recorded for the movie “Con Air.”
Brooks came back to burn things down with “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and a merry version of “Friends in Low Places,” another song when Brooks seemed to take special care in capturing the crowd raucously singing along.
Things could have ended there and it would have already been a two-hour show worth every penny, but Brooks came back out for an expansive encore, including a bit of “In Lonesome Dove,” “Blame It On Mexico” and “Walkaway Joe,” with Yearwood.
Brooks seemed to leave it all out on the stage, so it’s hard to fathom that Friday was the start of a marathon five-show engagement, including two shows a day on Saturday and Sunday.
Traffic was dreadful to the point that Brooks thanked the crowd twice for dealing with it. With shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., the commute from Seattle to Tacoma looks to be even worse, so give yourself plenty of extra time to get to the venue.