Country legend Garth Brooks added another first to his storied career when he took the stage at Notre Dame Stadium in October for the first ever live concert at the university’s 88-year-old famous football field. The sold-out event was captured for the CBS special Garth: Live at Notre Dame! airing Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8pm. Despite cold and wet weather, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of over 84,000 fans filling the historic stadium.
Brooks was playful at the press conference prior to the concert and laughed as he teased the Fighting Irish locals: “I’m going to work you like a rented mule now — I have to.” He was referencing the particulars involved in filming a concert special versus just playing a regular concert on tour, including having to play some of his hit songs twice to get it just right for the CBS special. That proved to be no problem during the show, as the passionate crowd roared when Brooks sang repeats of “Two Piña Coladas,” “Standing Outside the Fire” and emotional favorite “The River,” as well as some unexpected covers.
Brooks also hinted before the show that CBS is going to “attempt to do something I’ve never seen on TV with a crowd before … from the helicopter shots, if they pull it off, it’ll be the most epic thing you’ve ever seen done in a stadium.”
When asked why he decided to perform at the legendary University of Notre Dame, Brooks enthused, “Everybody wants to be here. This place is representative of who we truly are: sweet people that want to do good and want to see good things happen to other people.” He continued, “That’s the world I want to live in, and I think that is this place.”
Notre Dame approached Brooks about a year ago to be their inaugural concert to christen a newly built $400 million improvement project on their stadium. The school anticipates holding even more events in the historic space, including the NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.
As for the concert itself? It takes a running start with Brooks’ newest hit, “All Day Long,” and doesn’t hesitate to remind the audience of exactly the kind of star power Brooks brings to his live shows. “The show usually is just song-oriented; now with this one it will be songs in a certain order because of commercials — so everything changes,” he said of his playlist.
The concert is a kickoff for a new three-year North American stadium tour for Brooks starting in 2019, following a world tour with wife Trisha Yearwood that concluded only a year ago. Only four stops have been announced — State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Mo., Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainsville, Fla. and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. — with three more cities promised to be on sale before Christmas. During the concert, Brooks made a point to “make a date” and promise that because he started his tour at Notre Dame, he will also end it there, grinning as the crowd screamed and added it to their mental calendars.
This Notre Dame date is also the last time his whole band will be together before splitting up for the upcoming tour; while Brooks will go one way, Yearwood will be launching her own solo tour and “stealing” some of his musicians. Fans of both artists shouldn’t worry: The tours will coordinate so the couple can continue to travel together and support each other’s individual endeavors.