Garth Brooks at Neyland Stadium: 5 Ways He Earned His CMA Entertainer of the Year Title
Garth Brooks made the 10th (official) stop of his Stadium Tour in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday night (Nov. 16), at the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. It was a record-breaking event, with over 84,000 people in attendance at the fifth-largest stadium in the world.
Brooks' Knoxville concert took place just three days after the country superstar won Entertainer of the Year for a record-setting seventh time at the 2019 CMA Awards. While the award was well-deserved, Brooks' win garnered a good deal of criticism from fans, as many were hoping to see Carrie Underwood or Eric Church win the coveted trophy for the first time.
There's a reason Brooks continues to rake in the accolades, however, despite not having released a studio album in more than three years -- and that's his live show. The Boot and thousands of others got a taste of what the living legend has to offer at Neyland Stadium -- read on for the five best moments.
That "Fishin' in the Dark" Cover
After warming up with a few of his greatest hits, Brooks noted that he loves stadium shows because the roof is off and, both literally and metaphorically, the sky is the limit. His cover of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishin' in the Dark" was perfectly on theme with the starry night hanging above the concert.
"Unanswered Prayers" is a country classic, regardless of your opinion of Brooks. When the moment came on Saturday night for him to perform the song, a sense of camaraderie overtook the audience: They linked arms -- perhaps to warm up in the almost-freezing weather -- and sang along to every word.
Brooks, too, reveled in the moment, letting fans complete the chorus for him. It was an ace example of his live vocal talent. and a tenderhearted part of the show.
"Callin' Baton Rouge"
There couldn't have been a more perfect addition to Brooks' Saturday Night setlist than "Callin' Baton Rouge." Recorded for his 1993 album In Pieces and originally performed by the Oak Ridge Boys, who hail from about 30 minutes down the road from Neyland Stadium, the song was a fitting choice. The Cajun fiddle and accordion made for some of the most impressive instrumentation of the night, and the foot-stomping melody amped up the rowdiness after a few slower ballads.
"Friends in Low Places"
Of course Brooks had to play his biggest hit before the night was over. Just before ending his set with "The Dance," the country star's guitar player picked out the opening chords of "Friends in Low Places" to an excited audience response. Brooks, in usual excitable fashion, raced around the in-the-round stage, his singing almost drowned out by the fans.
"Rocky Top" as the Closer
Brooks closed out his encore and ended the night with the only song suitable for the home of the Volunteers: "Rocky Top." The classic, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and popularized by the Osborne Brothers, had the entire stadium singing along and chanting.
Brooks played the tune on an acoustic guitar, accompanied only by a fiddle, and still managed to make it a raucous affair. "Whoooo!"s from the audience solidified his superstar ability to engage a crowd.
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