Interview: Garth Brooks Making Stadium Shows Special Via Fan Connections, Can’t-Miss Moments
With his much-anticipated Notre Dame Stadium date behind him, country legend Garth Brooks is turning his attention to his next new adventure: a three-year stadium tour, which is set to kick off in January of 2019. It's uncharted territory for Brooks, who has said he was planning to use his Notre Dame concert as a "blueprint" for the tour; however, the superstar says, the forthcoming shows will differ from even that performance.
"Everything you know about Notre Dame took a really hard right ... when we found out that CBS was interested in filming," Brooks explained at a media event, which took place in advance of the Notre Dame show. "Notre Dame will be a one-off stop, because we're filming. Because the last thing I like is to see something on TV and then see the exact same thing if I pay a ticket to go outside and watch these things. We'll go back to the drawing board."
While not all of the stadiums Brooks plays will be at colleges, many of them will be, and he intends to keep a collegiate theme throughout the tour. "We're gonna introduce a thing called Music 101," he relates. "It's music that these kids should never, ever forget."
With his Music 101 initiative, Brooks will play not only his own hits but also hits by artists that inspired him and remain a lasting part of the country music canon. "It's gonna be fun to be able to play other people's music for them, and make sure that, while we're there and we have their attention, we [play] some of the greatest artists in life [so] they do not forget, and so they know how much of an influence they were on our music," he explains.
Furthermore, the shows will capture some of the magic of the sporting events for which the stadiums are traditionally used. "Every day is game day, that's what we like about stadiums," Brooks goes on to say. "We're encouraging people to come in the colors of the school or the team of the stadium we're playing."
Brooks says the most important thing of all for his upcoming tour, however, will be establishing the same fan-artist connection in a 85,000-seat stadium that he would in a tiny honky-tonk or in an arena. So, as an artist, how do you learn to connect with the person sitting in the very top row of the nosebleeds?
"By sitting your butt [in that seat]," Brooks says. "I mean, we've all been there. The first two concerts I ever went to, I was second row from the top, and I felt damn lucky to be in the building."
Even the furthest-away country fan, Brooks points out, is hoping for that connection, which makes it easier for an artist to succeed. "You really have to disappoint these people to disappoint them, because they're pulling for you," he continues. "They want it to be the best night of their life when you walk in there. That's a wonderful advantage to have.
"Let 'em know you care. Let 'em know you're singing just to them. That's easy to do in a honky-tonk, and it became easy to do in an arena, and it's what I'm hoping because easy in a stadium -- to find the people furthest away and make them feel like they're in the front row," Brooks says.
Brooks knows the importance of having moments of connection with fans, because he experienced them first as a fan himself. "I know it's a simple approach, but it's funny how people really want that three seconds of eye-to-eye locks. How they can tell you -- like I got to tell Freddie Mercury, when I was 17 and at a Queen concert, he looked at me for three seconds, and that was all I needed to tell him 'Thank you,'" Brooks recalls. "When you now become the guy onstage, it's funny how now you're only looking for that three seconds with each person to tell them 'Thank you. Thank you for my life.'
"There's that exchange that wants to go on, and if you put the time in, you can have that exchange with everybody in the building," he adds. "Now, with 85,000 people, the show might be a little longer to get that done. But what a beautiful way to spend your time."
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