Even Garth Brooks dreamed of performing on BSU’s field: ‘Everyone wants to play on The Blue’

It’s been 27 years since Garth Brooks last played a concert in Boise. He’ll admit the city looks a lot different from his downtown hotel than it did the last time he was here. But the people? They seem to have stayed the same.

Brooks met with the media Friday afternoon prior to the first of his two concerts at Albertsons Stadium. Brooks, 57, is on a solo tour — The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour — and is playing in Boise for the first time since his 1992 performance at Boise State. He played at what was then the BSU Pavilion; this weekend’s shows will be the first major concerts at Albertsons Stadium.

Friday night’s show will include fellow country music star Blake Shelton. Initially only one show, Saturday’s, was scheduled. A second show was added after the first sold out in less than an hour.

Brooks said he grew up wanting to play shows in stadiums. And, as a college football fan, The Blue is a must-see or, in his case, a must-perform.

“Everyone wants to play on The Blue,” he said.

Brooks was quick to point out the stadium looks different than it did the last time he played in Boise (there is no track surrounding the field anymore, he noted) and the campus has grown exponentially.

But the most important part of his tours — the people — haven’t changed, he said.

“That’s why this place is growing like it is,” he said. “It’s a culture of treating one another really well.“

Not everywhere is as friendly when you say hello as you’re out walking around, he said.

“A lot of people at home would keep walking because it’s not their culture,” Brooks said. “Here, everybody goes, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ So, that’s a neat thing.”

Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, are country music royalty: Brooks has won two Grammys and is the six-time winner of the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year. He has sold more than 148 million albums, which ranks second all-time behind The Beatles, according to Business Insider. Yearwood is a three-time Grammy winner and has won three CMA awards.

The two have frequently toured together, most recently from 2014-17. This time, however, Brooks and Yearwood have separate tours; Yearwood is touring solo for the first time since in five years, per Rolling Stone, and is releasing her first original album since 2007.

Yearwood is still touring with Brooks, but in a different capacity. She is hosting Trisha’s Tailgate, which will run from 3-6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $75; there are still a few available tickets at the door.

In a phone interview with the Statesman, Yearwood said she is excited to have the chance to check out what the city has to offer. She will feature potatoes in her dishes at the tailgate (potatoes are her “favorite food, by the way”).

Yearwood said she is excited to be a spectator in a suite rather than a performer.

“It’s kind of nice though because I might wear makeup, might not,” she said with a laugh.

Brooks, an Oklahoma State graduate, holds Boise in high-esteem — and not just because the Broncos took down the hated Oklahoma Sooners in the classic 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

“This is one of those places where you’re lucky to get out with your life, because the fans are just that way,” Brooks said. “The greatest compliment I think you could ever pay a city is to not come here for the first time, but to come back again because you’ve been here before.”

Prior to Friday’s press conference, Brooks spent time with Boise State student athletes and took questions from current Broncos. He was struck by the “culture” of the athletic department, he said. His message to the athletes was one of being a role model.

“Our whole point to them is to make sure they understand in a culture, especially like this, they are heroes to the community, and how they act affects everybody else,” Brooks said.

Yearwood, a University of Georgia fan, said she was excited to see The Blue for the first time. She’s a college football fan and, like Brooks, knows the reputation of the field precedes it.

“I’m very familiar with your field,” Yearwood said. “You never wonder who’s playing … you know.”

This weekend’s shows are expected to be the events with the highest attendance in Albertsons Stadium history, surpassing any prior football games the Broncos might have played in.

Even for someone who has played countless shows and sold out his fair share of venues, Brooks still smiles when talking about setting attendance records. It’s one thing to play in front of 17,000 people, he said. But it’s another thing entirely to have 40,000 people hanging on every word or note.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it feels fantastic,” Brooks said. “It feels unbelievable.”

Brooks said he was initially skeptical of the intimacy that a stadium tour could offer. Between the acoustics and the lighting, everything seemed like it would make a performance impersonal.

But as he has crossed venues off his list — Notre Dame Stadium, Denver’s Mile High Stadium, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, to name a few — Brooks has realized it is quite the opposite.

As he prepared for his Boise shows, Brooks said he was excited to see what Albertsons Stadium had to offer. The first stops on his tour had left him pleasantly surprised; stadiums are warm, he said, despite their size.

“Size does matter. And 17,000 people singing ‘Unanswered Prayers’ compared to 40,000 people singing it? Get ready,” Brooks said. “Because it sounds like you’re hearing the angels from heaven.”

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