From Where I Sit – Finish First

My mom, Roy, and I just collected on a Christmas present from Hilary. She gave each of us a ticket to the Garth Brooks world tour concert in Edmonton. I don’t think anyone expected he’d end up selling more than 143,000 tickets in nine shows but that’s what happened. Ours was for the seven o’clock show on Saturday night

We were there in 1996 when Brooks last came to Edmonton and we loved him. Hilary saw him last year in Saskatoon. Much has been written about his talent, his showmanship, his nice-guy-down-home persona.

That Hilary was able to secure four PCL Loge seats at the spectacular Rogers Place made this event special. These seats are mid-bowl and feature a table and four barstool seats. No aisle, no small-bladder people squeezing back and forth because they’ve been drinking fifteen-dollar drinks all night. Great sightlines, comfy setting, no annoying people.

Because my mom is eighty-something and I’m still gimpy because of my fall, the plan was to drop us off as close to the door as possible. The traffic was snarled and one street was closed so we bailed out when we could so Roy and Hilary could park. The sidewalk was jammed?ten or twelve people wide in two directions from the door and around the corner?with chilly, confused concertgoers. You’ve got to wonder about men in shirts and women in short, sleeveless dresses wearing open-toed shoes in February in Edmonton.

The issue, it seems was moving nearly 20,000 people from the 3 PM show out so the next 20,000 could get in and through security for the 7 PM show. We didn’t see any anger. Near us, some guys broke into song. Unfortunately, Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog isn’t a Garth number. They seamlessly transitioned into Friends in Low Places and made us smile at the plucky Canadian spirit and loyal country fan base.

The show started about an hour late with two warm-up acts. When Garth burst onto the stage, he said he’d be ’playing cowboy songs, drinking songs, and the night would be one of oldies.’ He had us eating out of his hands. Some people stood through the entire night. We all cheered and sang along whether he prompted us or not. He teased us, he enabled us, he praised and challenged us. And the crowd lapped it up. It was a feel-good night in a time of too many worries for too many people.

After the obligatory standing O, Garth returned alone with his guitar and performed another twenty or more minutes. It felt natural, comfortable, intimate despite our number. It was so the opposite when years ago we saw Dwight Yoakum perform. He appeared drunk, low energy, inconvenienced to be here. But of course, stars behaving badly is not new.

So chock this one up as a night of memories shared by three generations and facilitated by a generous daughter/granddaughter. It’s also nice to know that good guys can finish first, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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