1. He played pretty much the same two-dozen songs at every show. The noteworthy exceptions were the inclusion of “Face to Face,” “Alabama Clay” and the brand new “Mom” on Thursday. At Friday’s late show, there were covers of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning.” Country star Trisha Yearwood, who is married to Brooks and played brief sets in the middle of each performance, offered her minor hit “On a Bus to St. Cloud” at several gigs only because she was in Minnesota.
2. The final show, which stretched from 11:30 p.m. Saturday till nearly 2 a.m., was the loosest and most rambunctious, by all accounts. Even after performing for eight hours over the past two nights, Brooks’ voice held up — as did his energy.
3. Unofficially, more than 205,000 tickets were sold — a record for Brooks (and obviously Target Center) for one engagement. In 1998, when Brooks last toured before retiring to raise his three daughters, he sold a then-record 162,833 tickets at Target Center for nine concerts. Brooks had more concerts in Chicago on this tour, but with fewer total tickets sold.
4. After the challenges of two concerts in one night on the first weekend, Target Center was more efficient dealing with crowd flow inside and outside the building on the second weekend. Between shows on Saturday, cleaning crews managed to sweep up most of the confetti that was shot from canons during “Friends in Low Places.” However, the overflowing trash can in the men’s room on the main floor was not emptied.
5. Brooks may get schmaltzy at times, but he sells it with sincerity. For example, on Saturday, during “Shameless,” he held hands with two different women at the same time. When he high-fives a fan, it’s not a simple slap but a brief handgrip like he means it. And before he exited on Saturday, he mocked his penchant for sincerity and then said, “Sincerely, sincerely, this has been the best place to play on the World Tour so far.” In Saturday’s early show, he expressed his, um, sincere desire to perform again in the Twin Cities.
6. Closing night meant long, long days for Target Center staffers. One usher said he worked from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. One merchandise seller started at noon and expected to finish at 5 or 6 the next morning.
7. Considering that Brooks has an MBA and a reputation as a master marketer, he came up short at the merchandise counters. There were no T-shirts in kids’ or women’s sizes. His ball caps and hoodies were emblazoned with “World Tour 2014,” which limits their shelf life (the tour continues into 2015) and resulted in discounts on Saturday night. He did restrict his T-shirt selection to four styles at people’s prices ($25, compared to $40 or more for most artists) and $45 for a hoodie (some stars charge at least $75). Merch sales were typically $135,000 per show while ticket sales grossed about $1.3 million per concert.
8. On the first weekend, ticket touts “couldn’t give them away,” one broker said. “You could get in for 20, 30 or 40 bucks. By the 10th show, it was 10 times that.” In other words, for Saturday’s early show, a pair of upper-level seats — all tickets cost $70.50, fees included — was going for $600. Prices went even higher for the final gig.
9. The ultimate populist country superstar even attracted music hipsters, including Twin Cities Twitter king Kyle Matteson and First Avenue booker Sonia Grover. Matteson attended two shows and shot the video that went viral of the woman whose handheld sign about having a chemo treatment in the morning captured Brooks attention and got her a hug, a guitar and an appearance with him on “Entertainment Tonight.”
10. Every show, Brooks tossed open bottles of water into the crowd. At the first concert, the guy next to me caught the bottle and the water caught me. I haven’t gotten that soaked at an indoor concert since Prince sprayed me with his “Purple Rain” squirt-gun guitar. Good times.
11. Who else could sell out 11 arena concerts in the Twin Cities? Paul McCartney — if he charged Garth-like people’s prices of $70 for every seat instead of $250 for the best seats in a baseball stadium.