Jana Craft describes the Garth Brooks concert that brought the room to tears and gave hope and encouragement to a woman battling cancer.
So, there we were, Friday night, at the Garth Brooks concert in Minneapolis, when my heart broke wide open and I fell in love with 19,355 people, and Garth, all over again.
The hubs scored tickets for the November 7th, 10:30 pm show (yawn!) and we made it into an extended date night. Little did we know, it would turn into a date morning, too! I was a wee bit reticent of the fact that we’re usually in bed by 9:30, the hubs even earlier.
How would we stay awake? Would we be grumpy? How are we going to kill that much time between dinner and the show? Is it going to be safe walking back to our hotel at midnight?
Yeah, none of those questions were relevant, little did we know.
After a splendid dinner with friends at The Melting Pot, because we are fondue rednecks, we headed over to the Target Center around 9. We figured the doors would open at 9:30 to let the crowd get
beer seated before the show started at 10:30. Plus, the Target Center website said the doors usually opened an hour before showtime.
Holy crap, we were so wrong.
I know it’s been 16 years since Garth has been to Minneapolis (18 since I’ve seen him in concert), but evidently the people of the upper Midwest are still fans because the line to get into the Target Center was wrapped around the building in the butt-freezing cold night. Quick action by the hubs led us to the skyway where we were able to wait with 19,354 of our closest friends for the doors to open.
Since the hubs had a coupon for six free chocolate dipped strawberries and had evidently forgotten that eating a four-course fondue dinner (even the portion for 1 that we split) leaves one feeling like a certain November-holiday fowl (that is, stuffed), we had a splendid time giving away our desserts, which resulted in exactly no extra line movement whatsoever. A strategic misstep on our part, gentle reader.
We weaved our way, rats in a maze, through the skyway system, past the doors to the Target Center and back again. We were in line for 90 minutes, but at least we were warm. Breaking through the doors after our
cavity security search, we headed right for the merch table and scored two rubber tour bracelets for the daughters, a tour poster and tour t-shirt, because I’m just that much of a Garth Geek.
Beer purchased, seats found, sticky floor underfoot ignored, requisite picture taken, we settled in for the show.
Garth sang all the favorites and a few new tunes. He was just as energetic as I remember, but as he reminded us, “It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. We’ve both gotten a little older.” Yes, indeed, sir. I sung every word perfectly as I alternated between hands in the hair and beer in the air. Because you just can’t do country music without beer, people. The sticky floor underfoot only served as further proof of this statement.
He sang a few songs, ramped up the energy, brought us down with a sentimental favorite, welcomed wife Trisha Yearwood on stage for a three-song set and wrapped up the concert with a few more of his hits. Midnight? Pfft, whatever. Completely wired on adrenaline and Mama Loves Papa lyrics. I paid no mind to anyone else and was having my own Shameless concert, as evidenced by 19,355 people when they caught sight of me on the Jumbotron, hands and beer raised, super-cute purple plaid shirt on display, recognition of my mug on the big cubed screen and the appropriately-mouthed “That’s me! Woo hooo!”
Perhaps the best self-deprecating moment was when Garth, between songs, already sweating profusely, said in a voice heavy with sentimental musing and good-natured teasing, pointing to his acoustic guitar strapped around his midsection,
“You know, this isn’t on.”
Referring to his guitar that was not mic’d-up. He strummed and we heard nothing.
“I just use it to cover my gut. Because, folks, let’s face it. I’m a biscuit shy of 3-bills and 137 years old now.”
“Yeah, they only let me play on mic when we do one song.”
Then he strummed the four notes that begin the song “Friends in Low Places,” and 19,356 people went absolutely bat crap crazy, including myself, because we know what’s coming – the third verse. Yes, that ubiquitous third verse of Friends in Low Places that’s only on the live album or at a live concert (of which we’ve been denied for nearly two decades), that informs the subject of the song to “just wait till I finish this glass/’cause sweet little lady I’ll head back to the bar/and you can kiss my ass.
Until, that is, the last song. After five encores it was 1:45 am. The show had started at 11:30 pm. Remember how I was afraid we would be sleepy or grumpy or tired or exhausted and this would inhibit our ability to enjoy the show? Y’all, I could have been there all night and it wouldn’t have mattered one single bit.
The Facebook post when I uploaded this picture read: “Still here at 1:30 a.m.!” I don’t think we’ve ever been in a good mood at 1:30 a.m. Look how happy we were!
And then my heart broke wide open when Garth sang, “The Dance.” Perhaps because it was 1:52 in the morning and 19,356 people were emotionally exhausted, buzzed and sweaty with croaking voices, it was already going to go down as one of the best concerts, ever. And then it got 167% more amazing.
During The Dance, a song about not regretting the bad stuff in life in order to not miss the good stuff, fan signs were being beamed onto the afore mentioned, cubed shaped Jumbotron. As Garth was singing with his un-mic’d acoustic guitar hiding his 53-year old gut, this sign popped on to the screen and stayed there for a good long time.
BOOM, the tears started flowing and the voices raised. I think Garth thought we were cheering for him because a big sentimental grin spread across his face. Sixty-seconds later I see the poster-board sized sign making its way up front with a lady in a red knit cap bobbing through the crowd.
This lady, in fact, Teresa Shaw from Osage, Iowa.
From her Praying for Teresa Facebook page:
Teresa is a single mom, living in Osage, IA . She is one of the most humble, sweet, caring people I have ever known. She is always the first person to offer to help others, and never asks for anything in return. Teresa received her breast cancer diagnosis last summer, and has been receiving chemo since early fall. Teresa’s 3 children all live quite a distance away from Osage, so she is living alone while going through treatment. She has 3 chemo treatments left. In January, she will have a double mastectomy followed by 6 weeks of radiation treatment. As you can see, she continues to have a long road in front of her. Because her treatments have been very hard on her, she has been able to work only a few days since last summer. Her friends and family plan to organize a fundraiser for her this winter, so if anyone is interested in making donations to help Teresa through this fight, donations can be sent to: First Citizens Bank, 501 Main St. Osage, IA 50461. Checks should be made out to: Teresa Shaw Benefit. PLEASE add Teresa to your prayers and to your prayer chains at your places of worship.
As I watched her approach the stage I saw the recognition on Garth’s face via the Jumbotron. He took a few steps to the edge of the stage and took a seat. I saw the crowd around Teresa back up a little, stunned at his personal gesture to sing to this woman. His voice broke and then he reached out to the woman and she reached back. Hugs and a kiss on the forehead. He took the sign and gave her his guitar in exchange. She cradled it like the prized possession it will forever be.
Sometimes man, sometimes, I’m one of those guys that say that if God would just give a big old hand that comes out from the sky and writes, “I EXIST”then there would never be any doubt, right? Well I want to tell you right now! God just stuck his hand out and said YOU KNOW that I exist! YOU have all of my strength, you have everybody’s strength in here, and go KICK CANCER’S ASS!