Garth Brooks performs for a sold-out crowd at the Dome at America's Center in downtown St. Louis on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Garth Brooks himself couldn’t believe what he pulled off Saturday night in St. Louis at the Dome at America’s Center.

It was the first date on his new stadium tour, and upwards of 75,000 fans (a record for the venue) came to see the “Rodeo” singer’s quickly sold-out show, a fact that terrified and amazed him in equal doses. He told fans he was afraid to take the stage, feeling more comfortable at honky-tonks, but as the evening progressed felt differently.

“I’d play the Dome any day of the year,” he said.

Brooks took several moments throughout the over two-hour show to simply pause, stare out into the crowd and take it all in. What he saw staring back at him when he looked out at fans is why he started the tour in St. Louis.

“This is going to be the best night of my life right here,” he declared.

Jokingly reducing the Dome to “just a big-ass honky-tonk,” the energetic Brooks delivered a generous 30-song set list that carried the necessary favorites, such as “Unanswered Prayers,” “Friends in Low Places,” “The Dance” (his admitted favorite Garth Brooks song) and “The Thunder Rolls,” plus some select covers and a few new songs, including “The Road I’m On” and “All Day Long,” that will presumably find a home on his upcoming album. There was also an appearance from his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who’d previously said she would not appear on stage.

The show felt unpolished and honest. You almost had to believe Brooks meant all the declarations he doled out on what the night meant to him and how much he loves St. Louis.

Brooks’ high-tech stage felt uncomplicated by today’s standards, yet was effective as he and the band performed mostly under a tower-like setup with a four-sided projection cube high above. But Brooks and crew also ventured out often on extended parts of the stage to work all areas of the 360-degree design. With the stage spanning as widely as it did, he had a lot of ground to cover. Thirty minutes in, he admitted he was already winded.

“Could I be mistaken or did I hear a hell of a lot of you singing already?” he asked early on, acknowledging the sing-along nature of the show. “Did you guys come to sing? Let’s find out.” He launched into “Two Pina Coladas,” “Rodeo” and “Papa Loved Mama,” and said he’d never heard a crowd sing the last the way he heard it this night.

During “The River,” Brooks wrapped himself in a crocheted American flag handed to him as he sang. For “Unanswered Prayers, “ he stripped the proceedings down to a simple guitar and vocals, or down to a guitar and 70,000 vocals as he described it. Giving a nod to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, he treated fans to “Fishin’ in the Dark.”

Midway through the show, he remembered he’d left a song off the setlist and threw out “Beaches of Cheyenne” spur-of-the-moment. “We’re totally off the rails now,” he said.

After fan favorite “Friends in Low Places,” he said he was lucky to have a song where people call him in the middle of the night singing it at karaoke.

/ Brooks acknowledged his wife, Trisha Yearwood’s, pre-party event, Trisha’s Tailgate, which was canceled because of the heavy rain, and sympathized with her fans, saying how disappointed he’d feel if he thought he was going to see her only to not see her. And to that end, he brought her on stage for a surprise guest spot.

“Nice crowd,” she quipped upon joining Brooks, who told her this was the coolest group of people she’d ever meet. Brooks played guitar and backed Yearwood on “Walkaway Joe” (his favorite Yearwood song) and “She’s in Love with the Boy.” The pair was perfectly matched.


Garth Brooks performs for a sold-out crowd at the Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis on Saturday, March 9, 2019. 

The A&E network was on hand filming for a documentary it’s doing on the couple, which he revealed well into the show. He meant to say it earlier so the crowd would be extra hyped, but it turned out he didn’t need to.

Brooks used a big chunk of the encore for the “housekeeping” portion of the show, reading fans’ many signs, including messages from a couple of women who are cancer survivors. He offered words of support and played acoustically on songs such as “She’s Every Woman,” “Wolves,” “To Make You Feel My Love” and “Stronger Than Me” before resuming with the full band.

Earlier in the evening, Brooks autographed a young girl’s sign that said all she wanted for her birthday was to meet him.

Brooks was accompanied by a number of longtime players on stage, including Ty England (guitar), Jimmy Mattingly (one of the night’s MVPs, on fiddle), Steve McClure (steel guitar), Gordon Kennedy (guitar), Blair Masters (organ, accordion), Mike Palmer (drums), Vicki Hampton (vocals), Robert Bailey (vocals), Mark Greenwood (bass) and Dave Gant (musical director, keyboards, fiddle).

The show started after about an hour’s delay. An announcer updated the crowd a few times to say they were waiting for the rest of the ticket-holders to enter the building.


An “online exclusive” is an article or story that does not run in the print edition of the Houston Herald. Typically 2-3 are posted online every Wednesday morning. It’s another feature designed for users who purchase full web access from the Herald

Click here to subscribe for print, digital or both.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply