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Garth Brooks loves Salt Lake City and fans returned that love Friday night

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Country star Garth Brooks performs with his band during his stadium tour Friday, June 17, 2022 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

On Friday night, the loving audience at Rice-Eccles Stadium persuaded Garth Brooks to sing the lesser-known third verse of his 1990 hit ‘Friends in Low Places’ – and the country singer was impressed.

“Salt Lake knows its country music,” Brooks told the crowd.

Brooks and his band performed the song near the end of Friday’s show – the first of two nights at Rice-Eccles, during the country legend’s upcoming stadium tour. To punctuate the occasion, three men walked onto its dynamic stage and fired confetti cannons, sending streamers and shimmering white confetti pieces through the crowded stadium.

When Brooks performed at Rice-Eccles in July 2021, he promised to bring the tour back. This weekend’s shows, like last year’s, all sold out within minutes on Ticketmaster. His Friday show opened with a wink from Amazon’s AI voice: “Hey, Alexa, play Garth Brooks live in SLC.”

Brooks fly-half Mitch Rossell cried over the crowd’s reaction to his set, and he even paused to say he was shocked at the number of people in the stadium. He debuted a new track in Salt Lake City, about hard work, and said the crowd could be part of the song’s music video.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Country star Garth Brooks performs with his band during his stadium tour Friday, June 17, 2022 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

At a press conference earlier Friday, Brooks said his most memorable moment from performing in Salt Lake City in the past was asking the crowd in 2021 if he could return.

“The response was crazy from inside the stadium,” he recalled. “You’d think it would be better from the people who didn’t come in. They were nice enough to make you feel like you weren’t selfish or crazy for thinking that.”

Brooks said he loved his Utah fans, but added he was confident saying he also came back for himself because he had such a great time here.

Brooks said that after years of performing and creating music, he is still humbled by what he does. “The more you get to do this, the less these things happen,” he said. “Not only does it become an old habit, it becomes more and more valuable each time it happens.”

Friday’s show was the same as last year, Brooks told the crowd. Earlier, he told reporters that the fans were “making up the set list”.

His backing musicians, most of whom have been with Brooks for years, brought the stadium to life with their basic country music skills — like killer fiddle solos and pounding drums.

Before his hit ‘The Thunder Rolls’ aired, he told the crowd he was checking the weather (which, despite the high temperatures at the start of the day, was brisk, cloudy and pleasant) before jokingly pointing to the sky and say, “God, you know I’m kidding.

Another memorable moment on Friday came when a young girl in the crowd named Emma held up a sign that read “‘Wild Horses’ of Colorado,” a request that Brooks play the song for her.

Other songs, like “The River” and “Fishin’ in the Dark,” had the crowd singing so hard it left the singer in awe.

When Brooks and his band left the stage at the end of the main set, a single oscillating disco ball hung in the air, still partying on its own. Then came the recall.

Brooks brought in his wife, country star Trisha Yearwood, who grabbed her microphone dazzled by the rainbow as the two performed a beautiful cover of “Shallow,” the song that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang in the 2018 film “A Star Is Born.” Yearwood also performed her 1991 hit “She’s in Love With the Boy”.

At the end of Friday’s show, Brooks told the crowd, “I love you Utah, thank you for taking care of me.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Country star Garth Brooks performs with his band during his stadium tour Friday, June 17, 2022 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion