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Garth Brooks: Big music for big crowds

Garth Brooks: Big music for big crowds

Hailed as 'nicest man in the [music] industry'
Garth Brooks: Big music for big crowds
Country music star Garth Brooks performs in San Diego in November 2015.
Photographer: San Diego Union-Tribune

Garth Brooks loves the road.

The traveling music continues for the multi-award winning country singer and songwriter, who on Friday brings his high-powered show to Albany for the first time in 20 years.

It's a triple play: Brooks will also play Saturday and Sunday at the arena. All three concerts at the Times Union Center will begin at 7 p.m.

The current "World Tour," which includes wife Trisha Yearwood, started in Chicago in September 2014. When nine recent shows in Edmonton, Canada sold out, team Brooks hit the five million ticket mark for the latest road trip.

The 55-year-old Brooks already has sold a ton of tickets for the Albany engagement and the 15,000-seat arena. Some seats are still available in the upper levels.

"Right now, the lower levels have sold out," said Bob Belber, the Times Union Center's general manager. "We've got some seats on Sunday night, which is better than the other two. I think we have single seats on Friday and Saturday in the upper level."

Belber added that concert promoters may release some seats just before the show, seats that are not being used by record label personnel. Others may have seats held for them, but these tickets are often released just before curtain.

Brooks never has to worry about many empty seats, even when he's playing three shows in a row.

"I think he's the only concert artist in the business today who can sell out three arena shows with 15,000 seats per show," Belber said. "His shows are that good."

The quality comes from Brooks' personal electricity.

"There's something about the energy he puts forth when he does these shows, it's similar to Bruce Springsteen," Belber said. "They just work so hard on the stage, you can see how much effort and energy they're putting into it. When they say in basketball, leave it all on the court, he leaves it all on the stage every single time. He goes out and does a show, you can just tell how hard he's working."

When Brooks played Albany and the then Pepsi Arena in 1997, Belber had only been general manager of the place for three years. He said he visited backstage with his daughter Caitlin, then just a year old. "He picked up my daughter and was bouncing her and we must have talked for about 45 minutes," Belber said. "Just the nicest man in the industry and still is, by the way."

Here are some details about the "nicest man in the industry."

—Early in his career, Brooks incorporated the arena rock-party style of Kiss, Queen and rodeo rock star Chris LeDoux to create a show that attracted new crowds to country music shows.

—Brooks' live show was so successful that he appeared in nine NBC and CBS television special in nine years.

—Brooks also played three shows in Albany in April 1997; Daily Gazette music reviewer Mike Lisi later put the Brooks concert in the "Number 1"  slot for his "Top 10" shows of 1997.

—Brooks started his Teammates for Kids Foundation, which works with professional athletes and provides financial aid to children's charities.

—In 2001, Brooks announced his retirement and moved back home to Oklahoma to raise his three daughters.

—In 2008, at the request of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brooks performed five concerts in two days to benefit "F.I.R.E.," an organization created to provide financial help to recent fire victims and support future firefighting in California. A total of 83,000 tickets were sold.

—Brooks continued his humanitarian work in December 2010, finishing nine sold-out concerts in six days to raise money for flood relief efforts in Tennessee.

—In October 2009, Brooks announced he was coming out of retirement to begin a four-year run of one-man shows at the Encore Theater in Las Vegas. On Nov. 29, 2013, after 180 sold-out shows, the final Encore performance was broadcast live in CBS.

—The current world tour started in Chicago and is currently in its third year. The North American portion of the tour is expected to last through 2017, and shows in Europe, Australia, South America, and more are expected to follow in the coming years. The tour has already broken the record for the most all-time concerts in a tour (Brooks held the previous record from his world tour of 1996-98).

Brooks recently won "entertainer of the year" at the CMA Awards for the fifth time, a first for any artist. He is also the first artist in history to receive seven "diamond" awards for the now seven albums that have sold more than 10 million copies each.

—In keeping with Brooks' own tradition, each ticket sold for the tour is the same price, regardless of location in the venue.

—Brooks is not giving interviews before the Albany shows, but he and Yearwood will host a press conference Friday at 3 p.m. So people will see another Brooks story in Saturday's edition of The Daily Gazette.

Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany

HOW MUCH: $74.98

MORE INFO: www.garthbrooks.com, www.timesunioncenter-albany.com.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected]or@jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog can be found here.

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