Country fans were out in force on Saturday, watching Garth Brooks perform the first concert at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
More than 45,000 people gathered at the new stadium downtown, many of them wearing boots, cowboy hats or Garth T-shirts in homage to the star on stage. The 7 pm show, with opening act Mitch Rossell, was part of a stadium tour designed to delight Brooks aficionados with high-energy performances and lots of radio hits.
“I’ll put our crowd up against anybody — loud-wise, listening-wise, sincerity,” Brooks said on Friday during an interview with reporters at the stadium. “Our goal is to have them leave the stadium loving each other more than when they came in.”
Mission accomplished, it seemed, audience members cheered, waved lighted cell phones and sang along to “The Dance,” “Friends in Low Places,” “Two Pina Coladas,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” “Two of a Kind, Workin ‘ we have Full House” and more. Brooks performed for about two-and-a-half hours with his band, displaying ample sweat equity on stage.
The concert, which lasted until about 10:45 pm, was recorded as fodder for a live album, Brooks said.
“My favorite time in Alabama has been right now, tonight!” Brooks said, prompting massive applause from ticketholders.
Brooks, 60, is a favorite in Birmingham, with a history of performances that stretches back to 1992, during a tour for his “Ropin’ the Wind” album. He’s played here several times over the years, most recently doing multiple dates in 2015 at the Legacy Arena at the BJCC.
The stadium crowd on Saturday was the largest ever for Brooks in Birmingham – in one place, at one time.
See photos from the concert in the gallery at the top of this post and look for a full recap of Brooks’ stadium show on Sunday at AL.com.