Austin 101 Magazine

Review: Music Legend Garth Brooks Opened & Closed Houston Rodeo 2018

The last time Garth Brooks played the Houston Rodeo was in 1993, then held at the Alamodome. Fast forward 25 years, he’s the Houston Rodeo opening and closing act – both sold out performances at Houston’s NRG Stadium and debuting on a brand new “spinning star” stage. We were invited to his press conference prior to his February 27th show on opening night where he graciously answered questions about his favorite song to perform live – “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and gave his enthusiastic approval of a visiting middle school journalism class. He also eluded to possible show “surprises” to which the room full of reporters quickly followed up with questions about Trisha Yearwood’s presence. Garth talked details about the new mega stage (Stars over Texas) that was built for the rodeo and is shaped like a star (it’s Texas y’all) and spins. He was the first to try it and had great compliments for the designers and crew. We chatted with Garth about his SXSW 2017 involvement and the cool free concert he performed on the mega outdoor stage. Watch our interview on Austin 101.final-5213

Brooks brought a huge band with him (10 total) including amazing pickers The show itself was jam-packed with all of his trademark hits, his signature over-the-top energy reverberated through the arena. He works up a serious sweat running all over and making sure to engage with each section of the arena. Highlights were when he walked out to the stage singing the almost mandatory hit, “Rodeo”, when he sang “The River” to a stadium lit up with cell phone screens, when he ran around that star demonstrating how much he loved performing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and last but not least – when he paid tribute to one of his greatest musical influences, George Strait, and sang the hit “The Fireman”. One of the highlights was “Two Pina Coladas” with full on neon palm trees, the ‘Oasis’ beach theme that turned it into a fun Jimmy Buffet style party. In Austin, we think he must be talking about our famous Oasis restaurant/bar that overlooks Lake Travis.

final-5206Almost three weeks after his opening night show, Garth returned to close out the rodeo. He wanted this show to be different so he said he would “play more songs” and he brought out surprise guest, wife Trish Yearwood for a couple of songs including mega hit ‘”In Another’s Eyes” and her “She’s in Love with the Boy”. They were so dang cute performing together and we love how he always bows to her. He’s got great manners. We love how he started each show with his hit “Rodeo” (well, duh). Highlights included a huge sing along finale of  “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance”. The songs that included Texas lyrics got the loudest roars. He talked about songs that he or songwriter’s wrote while in Texas so there’s a special personal bond with our state. Brooks proved that despite a long hiatus, he’s still the epic performer that puts 200% into his shows and why he’s one of the most popular musicians of all time. Garth’s success is unprecedented as the top solo artist in the U.S. even above Elvis, selling 148 million copies and only outdone by The Beatles. In addition he was named CMA Entertainer of the Year 2017 for the 6th time.

Both shows were sold out and the closing show set an attendance record (75,577 paid fans) and the place was packed to the rafters! Another surprise was his running off stage near the end of the set to greet fans and take selfies in the stands.

Garth said he was having so much fun that he wanted to return to play the rodeo in the future. Let’s hope it’s not so long. If you haven’t seen a Garth show, this a must-do bucket list item y’all!

See our best Garth photos from opening night at Austin 101

Opening Night Set List:

Rodeo
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The River
Papa Loved Mama
Two Pina Coladas
That Summer
The Thunder Rolls
The Fireman
Ask Me How I Know
Callin’ Baton Rouge
Shameless
Friends in Low Places
The Dance

Closing Night Set List

Rodeo
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The River
Two Piña Coladas
That Summer
The Thunder Rolls
Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
She’s In Love With The Boy (with Trisha Yearwood)
Amarillo By Morning (George Strait cover)
Callin’ Baton Rouge
(The Oak Ridge Boys cover) (Garth introduces the band)
Ask Me How I Know
Friends in Low Places
The Dance

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