Garth Brooks Reflects on Taking the Stage at Notre Dame Stadium: ‘It Felt Cold’
On Oct. 20, nearly 85,000 country fans braved freezing, rainy weather to be a part of Garth Brooks' inaugural stadium show at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. -- the first stop of a multi-year stadium tour, and the first concert ever at Notre Dame Stadium. Performing for such a large crowd was uncharted territory even for the country music veteran, and on Dec. 2, even more fans will get to see the performance, when the show airs as a CBS television special.
There were all kinds of reasons for the occasion to be momentous, but how did it feel for Brooks to take the stage that evening? "It felt cold," he joked to the Boot and other media backstage during the 2018 CMA Awards (South Bend experienced snowfall the night of the show).
"It felt like you were always kinda starting over," Brooks added more seriously, "because you can only play to 50 percent of the crowd at a time."
Despite the challenges of entertaining a stadium full of people, Brooks says the most memorable moments of the show were its triumphs. "What I remember most is them singing, and how joyous their voices felt," he notes.
Furthermore, the country legend says, when he watched footage of the show back later on, he was thrilled to see how all the hard work he and his team had put in came together. "If this sounds egotistical, forgive me, but I saw the special for the first time ... and I'm amazed," he admits. "There's what you think happened and what really went on, and what really went on was even better than what I thought happened, according to those frames. And the band -- I'm amazed at how good the band sounds."
When he spoke to the press at the CMAs, Brooks had just debuted his new song, "Stronger Than Me" -- a tribute to his wife, Trisha Yearwood -- onstage during the awards show, which was broadcast live on television. That kind of performance, he says, is even more intimidating than playing a stadium's worth of people.
"I think it's more intimidating to perform on television for the CMAs because you're trying to represent country music," he explains. "Out there, and [in concert], they kinda know you, flaws and all, and they still show up. That's the sweetest gift you can give somebody, them being themselves and that's okay.
"But when you play on TV, there are people tuning in that might know you or might not, don't matter how long you've been in the business. They might like you or might not, no matter how long you've been in the business," Brooks adds. "So the pressure is a little more, and all you wanna do is represent country music and yourself as best you can."
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