FIRST UNION CENTER PHILADELPHIA PA. SEPT. 13, 1998 7:00 P.M.~This is a long review so feel free to print it out to read~
Although I have been truly blessed to be in Garth's presence six times; I find each event exactly that...An event...Every chance to see him has held a precious memory that can not be shared no matter how much I would like to share it with you. It has to be your own experience (event) to get the full depth of Garth and his powerful music that moves people to Love, Cry, Laugh, Endure, Etc.... I'm writing this review to sort of share my experience at the concert on a beautiful Sunday in Philly on September 13th... and I even made a choice to sit in number 13 seat that day instead of seat number 11... I guess I used to believe that number 13 was a bad luck number... but it was just superstition because 13 proved to be a very lucky number for me... So I'm glad I've over come that belief! I figured out that when your taught something all your life It's hard to believe different because you expect things to be as you were taught... But what a revelation it is to find out that things are not always the way people have perceived them to be...so I don't hold it against my mom because she told me 13 was an un-lucky number...she just told me what she had been told by her family...Then again she never had a chance to sit in row 11 seat number 13 on the 13th to see Garth Brooks! Maybe her theory would change too, if she had a chance to see the number 13 in a different light...Of course I have learned some more valuable lessons from my mom that I treasure like the time I was ten years old and we had a blizzard on Thanksgiving I think it was the 24th of November...We were very poor with no money and no turkey! Now, all the kids at school were having turkey and that's what I wanted too... but thru a child's eyes I didn't understand at that time why we didn't have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and such... I thought it was all my mothers fault but it wasn't... We did have a can of Chicken Noodle Soup though and that's what my mom made for her and I... We sat down at the table with a bowl of soup for Thanksgiving...and my mom said Grace! I was shocked and I didn't understand why she thanked God for chicken noodle soup... I do under- stand now... and I thought the number 24 was a bad luck day... I suppose I could have started a new superstition or an old wives tale back then and generations later would believe it! Such as the number 13 thing... anyway... I'm sorry to rattle on... I'll try to keep it more to the point instead of wandering off aimlessly... Well maybe it wasn't aimlessly ... you see...( #@!#%!) WHAT??? O.K. Back to the concert review.
I pulled into the parking lot of the "First Union Center" with my two fellow occupants on this vagabond with me...My 12 year old son Christopher and my twenty year old niece Barbie... We had followed a 'Trip-quest' map that I printed out on the computer the night before and it's door to door driving directions were very precise and I would recommend using that service (that's free) for anyone traveling to a vicinity that is un-familiar to them. We had arrived around 4:00 P.M. so we had some time to wander around before show time... As we approached the end of the building where they had a booth set up to sell t-shirts and such... I heard someone screaming "Diane, Diane!"... It was my dear friend Amber with her mom and some friends whom she introduced me to. It is such a delight to see her because she has a radiant personality that makes you feel good inside. Her excitement about being there was just so contagious. We stood looking thru the black metal fence that protected a drop-off to the area where Garth's buses were parked. Amber told me how she ran into Kelly (Garth's brother) and had talked to him for awhile... Christopher, Barbie and I decided to walk around for awhile so we told Amber we'd see her later... I kept checking the parking lot to see if my twenty two year old son Walter, his fiance Kristi and my twenty year old daughter Stephanie had arrived yet... Christopher had to go to the bathroom so we went inside... but once you went in you couldn't go back out to the parking lot... The area that we entered the building at; was a bar... They had it sectioned off until a certain time to let us thru to our seats. I was so tired because of lack of sleep and walking around so much that I just had to sit down and the only place was the floor... so Christopher, Barbie and I sat down against the wall...behind us there were some glass windows where you could see inside. The room contained 'A Still' I guess, the beer served there could've been brewed in that room... Or maybe it was just for show... Like at a museum... I really don't know but it was an interesting display.
After awhile they allowed us to proceed to our seats in the arena... I can't explain what I felt when I found out where our seats were. Just pure excitment!!! We were directly left of the stage if you were looking out to the floor seats from the stage ...and there were absolutely no seats in front of us!!! Just the stage about 10 feet away... I couldn't believe it... When God answered my prayers for this event He went all out for me and I love Him so much!!! After we sat there for awhile I saw Sandy signing autograph's for some fans... She was directly below us and the door for Garth to enter and exit was right below us also... Christopher had the camara and took tons of pic's of Sandy but the roll of film was exposed and only one pic was available on the 2nd roll of film that I had developed... I couldn't believe how excited Christopher was as he kept hollaring to Sandy... and I can't believe I didn't bring more than two rolls of film! She is more beautiful in person than in her pic's because she radiates an overwelming love for the fans... I saw her and watched her give of herself to each one that asked for some time... I should have been brave enough to walk down to her myself and give her a hug and a thanks for all she has given to the world... I just sat and watched this amazing woman and admired her strength that she must have to be Mrs. Garth Brooks... It takes alot to be her and I can understand why Garth calls her his 'Knight In Shining Armor' because she does shine like a star.
After awhile Barbie and I went to get some soda for the three of us... Christopher stayed behind to observe all the people filling in the seats around the room... I think he was very happy to be so close to the stage... I could tell. When we came back to sit down in our seats I turned around when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was my oldest son Walter... He was extremely happy that our seats were right next to the stage and I can still see his smile... (I guess that's a mother thing) anyway, I asked where my daughter Stephanie was but she didn't come... Her concern was for her two babies that she really has not been away from since their birth. Sarah is two and Philip is one... I can understand her dilemma... that was my disappointment. So, I had an extra ticket! I decided to go find Amber who was on the opposite side of the stage as we were... She was in row 22 or 23 but next to the stage also... I offered her the ticket and she came over but decided it would be best if she set with her mom and friends that she had arrived with... I agreed and asked her to find someone that was way up in the highest level and give the ticket to them for me... She left to go back over to her seat and also gave the ticket to an elderly lady to use but the lady never used the seat. So a seat remained empty thru-out the show. The ticket we gave away was for seat #15 but Walter ended up sitting in seat #15 and Kristi sat in seat#14 so the empty seat ended up being seat #13 !!! (oh, I'm not even going to go there! but it was row 13,seat 13 on the 13th...that remained empty...:)(ROFLOL)
The lights dimmed as the announcement went out something like this: "Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome the reigning female vocalist of the year...Trisha Yearwood!!!" We all stood up screaming as Trisha graced the stage and her voice rang out to the tune of "Perfect Love"... Now, Trisha is very very beautiful and has the voice of an angel... She does this thing that is called "The Trisha Dance" by her fans, Because she always slaps her hip with her free hand as she is performing. After screaming for awhile I joined in singing the song...Even though I can't carry a tune, I did make an effort except when she hit the high notes... I'd stop singing and just listen instead. I remember Trisha mentioning something about Fathers never thinking any boy is good enough for their daughters...and then she sang "She's In Love With The Boy"... Which is one of Christopher's favorite songs and he sang along. Trisha also sang, "How Do I Live" and had the audience sing solo back to her and I was amazed at all of us that were singing and she held the mic out into the audience at the front of the stage and savored the moment just listening to us singing the words to her song. Trisha also sang "Wrong Side Of Memphis", "XXX's and OOO's", "The Song Remembers When", and a song off her new album titled "Love Wouldn't Lie To Me" and all thru-out her performance fans handed her gifts and flowers. I held up a sign for her to read that said "WE LOVE YOU" on it as she walked by in front of me. She sure does know how to perform and like Garth said in an interview I read once; that Trisha is not an opening act... I believe I've had the chance to see two concerts for the price of one...Trisha's and then Garth's... My two favorites! After Trisha left the stage, I knew we would get to see her again later on in Garth's show... The duet part! But for now the lights came back on in the arena as the stage was re-arranged to prepare for Garth's entrance...
For awhile the entire arena became like an ocean of waves as section after section of people collaborated to create this effect. I of course joined in the fun of this event that is known as THE WAVE... If you have never seen this, it basically is hundreds of people in different sections of the arena standing up and holding their hands up in the air at the same time with the others in their section and then sitting down while the next section does that and you wait until it gets back to your section so you can do it again! (phew!) Anyway...It's a site to see as thousands of people are involved in it's perfection. The unity of so many is unique and I have only seen this event at Garth's concerts. Sometimes I wonder if he ever peeks out to watch this and what he might think... I could imagine him pondering to himself (This is not a quote), 'Those crazy fans of mine they really can unite and share in a common effort! That's cool.' (This was not a quote) I saw a couple of beach balls getting bounced around the arena and it appeared to delight every fan that got a chance to toss it in the air with one hand and smack it with the other. Everyone was so excited and anxiously waiting for Garth to arrive on stage. Christopher taped the sign "We Love You" on the metal bars in front of our seats so Garth could read it... I also had a sign that read "Thank-You Stillwater" with all their names on it made out of Glitter that I held up once during the show... And a song request sign that Christopher and I held up once during the show also...It was a very beautiful sign made out of Gold and green glitter but I left them all there when the show was over.
The G-5 countdown was granted by a voice that could be compared to a transmission from our Space Shuttle to NASA in Houston... The voice declared we were in a smoke free facility and standing on seats was prohibited, How ever feel free To Stand! The lights had dimmed and a thunderous roar rose up from the crowd and everyone stood up as a mega-thunderous roar came from the stage area where the lighting rig started to lift and all eyes were fixed on this spectacular sight! It was like experiencing something from the twilight zone yet the stage appearance at that time could be compared to a UFO landing in our presence (but this was no Un-identified Flying Object!) This was Garth showing up in boots! And his grand entrance... I watched as the drum pod slowly rose up out of the stage and the keyboard also... I remember the extremely bright lightning that filled the drum pod that looks made of gold... It was a light of sorts that I have never seen other than at Garth's concerts... It appeared to be self contained...and then after the pod stopped sparking... there was silence as the heartbeat effect revibrated thru-out the arena and thru-out each heart! It felt like that heartbeat became one with mine and Garth started singing as the piano rose slowly out of the stage... Everyone was screaming so loud and the white piano was being played by a man wearing a white tuxedo...on top of the piano where the 'g' logo is ...Garth was slowly rising on a pedestool singing "I said a little prayer tonight before I came on stage"...People are going wild!!! I turned to look at Walter and Kristi two rows behind me and Walter was smiling and Kristi was in such awe of everything going on... Christopher was screaming and Barbie was jumping up and down screaming... I was observing the effect that Garth was having on the people I love... Oh, what a sight to see. I turned to look at Garth so he could have the same effect on me and it felt so good to be there... To see him...and he stood on top of the piano just looking that look where he is amazed by us screaming so loud and he slowly shook his head and jumped down from the piano and raced around the stage greeting fans and gathering gifts that he placed in a designated area of the stage thru-out the show... My gift was an envelope filled with letters from fans, guestbook entries from my old guestbook on my website, fans favorite song entries and stuff I knew Garth would enjoy reading because it was from his fans... and I hope he realized that "The Dance" was the most favorite song of all! And even though it was the least favorite years ago, it is the most favorite now.
After all the excitement of Garth's arrival and he finished singing "The Old Stuff"... He talked about us being that loud all night and if we kept up that pace he would keep playing too... He said that since this was the last night in Philly that we were getting every thing thrown at us... referring to the songs. This is a list of some of the songs Garth sang... They are not in the order he sang them but these are the ones I remember... OLD STUFF RODEO THE BEACHES OF CHEYENNE PAPA LOVED MAMA THE THUNDER ROLLS WE SHALL BE FREE THAT SUMMER SHAMELESS UNANSWERED PRAYERS IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES LONG NECK BOTTLE TWO PINA COLADA'S CALLIN' BATON ROUGE THE FEVER THE DANCE AIN'T GOING DOWN TIL THE SUN COMES UP FACE TO FACE YOU MOVE ME TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE PIANOMAN IN ANOTHERS EYES (DUET WITH TRISHA) WALKAWAY JOE (DUET WITH TRISHA)
Some of the show's high-lights were when Garth paid attention to one side of the stage where people were screaming loudest at that time... and then he walked to our side of the stage and we screamed louder... then he walked back to the right side again and they screamed even louder and the lights were switching from side to side shining on all those screaming on each side and then he went to the back of the stage and they screamed as loud as they could...and Garth started laughing and shaking his head as he declared "What's gotten into you guys?" and the people in the front were being quiet because Garth didn't get to them yet... and he came back to our side of the stage again and we screamed and then he went to the right side of the stage again and they screamed and then he went to the back and they screamed... but when Garth walked to the front of the stage that was still in the dark he said "I dread this!" and the lights shone out on the entire front which was 3/4 of the arena and they screamed so loud and had patiently waited for their chance to do so! Garth put up his hand as if to block a raging wind and pretended like it almost knocked him over as he stumbled backwards a few steps... This was so much fun and I'm sure everyone there enjoyed it! I know I did.
Another high-light was when Garth sang "Unanswered Prayers" and it seemed like everyone in the building was singing... and for a while Garth let us sing... I do believe God was looking down on us and that He heard us sing to Him "Just because He may not answer doesn't mean He don't care, some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered Prayers." After the song was finished, Garth removed his hat and walked around clapping for us... He said "That was gorgeous!"... And it was... I never want to forget it because for awhile we sang out with one voice and I realized that we were people from all walks of life in that room ... Yet the existance of a generation gap was void and the existance of race or nationality was void... We were all just Mankind singing our thanks to God... Garth was smiling! And he melts hearts when he smiles... I know he loves it when we sing his songs and then he took a bow... Mission accomplished.
An important highlight for me was when I was singing along clapping to an up-beat song... I think it was Callin' Baton Rouge but I was singing and then I realized that Garth was walking strait towards me and his eyes were locked on me! I started to tremble because he was so close and nothing was between us but a rail and a few feet of space... I felt like I stepped over into the Twilight Zone and this was for real... I didn't mean to be scared but I was and yet I just stared him in the eyes and he stared me back in the eyes for what seemed like forever but it was only like two minutes... I just kept clapping and singing a little louder but if I had stopped I probley would have started crying... Because there he was just paying all that attention to me and I was just staying connected to the audience around me... I mean there he was! Just a few feet away and I'm scared... (geezz!) I don't know why I felt so awkward. Still trying to figure that one out?! But it is a moment I want to remember forever. I think Garth had his purple thumps... and they're contagious because I think I started getting them at that time... If you don't know what the Purple Thumps are...then you have to read Bruce Feilers book titled "Dreaming Outloud" to find out... It has something to do with time and it's alteration...and a Zone ... just like the Twilight Zone...
For Christopher his special moment is unique... Garth was singing on our side of the stage and Sandy came walking over with one of the balls that had dropped out of the lighting rigs (spaceship thingy) when Garth was singing before...I forget which song but all the balls came down on top of him and he punched them out into the audience... They all contained the 'g' logo on them also. Sandy was specific about giving it to Christopher... and he reached over the rail to her as she handed it to him... He sat back with the ball in his seat like it weighed a ton or something... I leaned over to him and asked "Did you say Thank-you?" and he just sat there in a daze staring at Garth... WOW! I decided not to bother him... he was in another world! Garth looked on smiling... And after the concert was over it seemed like everyone wanted the ball that Christopher held in his possession like a great treasure because Sandy gave it to him... I feared leaving him by the sign outside the ladies bathroom... I had told him to stay there until I got back so he didn't get lost. He was tossing the ball around when I came out and I was shocked the kid didn't get mugged for his prize possession... (JUST KIDDING)... In the parking lot after leaving the show...A lady was persistant in trying to buy the ball off of Christopher... First she offered him twenty and then fourty and up to hundred ... But I'm proud to say he just wouldn't budge... anyway she was using her fingers not verbally offering to buy it I think she was just joking around with Christopher and he enjoyed teasing her by holding the ball up and then shaking his head no. Sometimes things mean more to you then money... It's not a fact that it's a ball... It's the fact that it was a gift from two very special people... Garth and Sandy Brooks... and money just can't buy something that special.
Back to the concert... During the show Garth took requests... Signs went up here and there. Garth went to the side of the stage where Amber was sitting... She had her sign "Face To Face" held in the air... Garth said "This is the last song off of 'The Chase' album" and started singing "Face To Face" to Amber!!! I joined in and I knew he was singing it for her... He did how ever leave out the second verse of that song. If you would like to read Ambers review of the concert and her feelings about this check out my ~Reviews~ page and click on Ambers Review...
After Garth sang "The Dance" I remember the crew members running onto the stage with guns that look like war machines! But they are only confetti guns... The first time I saw them do that was in Evansville Indiana and I have to say it scared me for a second back then... This time, I knew what to expect and I watched the streamers shoot out above the audience and I had confetti falling all around me and I caught some as it was falling like very large snowflakes.
Another part of the show was when Garth picked on Jimmy Mattingly... He taunted him about the signs... I remember one that said 'Gimme Jimmy' and Garth did! Then another sign that was all the way on the other side of the arena but I could see it because the spotlight was shining on it read "Don't Worry Jimmy, Garth has Fiddle Envy" and Garth mentioned that one... Jimmy never says a word... There were so many signs... but I do know when Jimmy started playing that fiddle... It was actually smoking!!! I couldn't believe the smoke that poured off of that fiddle... It made me think of the verse in the song Garth sings with Steve Wariner 'One spark from that fiddle bow can set this place on fire' (Burning The Roadhouse Down).
During 'The Thunder Rolls' and as the rolling thunder noise echo's thru-out the arena and the stage dances with flashing light's like thunder as the room is dark... I turned to Walter and Kristi and saw them experience some of Garth's magic... I could tell they were amazed. When I took Walter to the concert in Albany New York last year he had to sit way up in the farthest reaches of the arena... This time... He had it up close! This was Kristi's first Garth concert and I know she has been telling everyone about how out of all the concerts (40) in all, that she's ever been to of various artists... Garth is the Best!!! Now, I'm glad she came along.
My conclusion is this... After seeing Garth in concert and on your way home... It's like your mind is on 'Rewind' because you keep going back over and over to the memory of each moment that stuck out for you... but I have to say "The Dance" for me is a wonderful memory and not that I can share this in words but Thank God For Garth Brooks and the music that has touched my soul and set my heart on fire with love that will lead me to the light... and Garth if you ever read this..."I Love You" and "We All Love You"... Thanks for never changing in what you do for us!
Well, I could go on and on and maybe I'll add more to this review as I remember it... Hope you enjoyed it... and if you have any comments please e-mail me? I'd love to hear from you... Take care, and God Bless ~Diane~