“Of all my trips to St. Paul Minneapolis, this one kicks the [crap] out of all of them,” he said near the end of the concert.
Perhaps. But the folks who saw Friday night’s show may think they saw the better performance.
On Saturday, a seemingly winded Garth played two hours, covering 22 tunes. On Friday, he offered 29 numbers (if you count Happy Birthday to a crew member) over about 2 ½ hours.
The set lists were fairly similar, with a notable addition on Saturday, a solo acoustic guitar reading of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” as the finale. Garth also answered a request from a concertgoer’s sign and delivered “She’s Every Woman.”
The emotional highlight on Saturday came when Garth spotted a fan’s handmade poster: “14 Garth concerts. 23 days cancer free.” He stopped the show, interviewed the fan and opined: “I do not know you. I don’t know your past. Whatever your future is, keep that [short cropped] hairstyle.” Then he dedicated “Standing Outside the Fire” to her.
That was very spontaneous, as Garth can be. But too often he puts on his Humble Hat and sounds pat.
For instance, in mid-show, he declared/teased: “I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m begging you to let me please come back to St. Paul Minneapolis.”
With more than 140,000 tickets sold this weekend – and nearly 204,000 in 2014 for 11 shows, Garth knows that the Twin Cities is his best-selling concert market, as he mentioned in Friday’s pre-concert news conference.
Opening the concert was Darius Rucker, whom Garth asked to open for him when they encountered each other at a recent party for Loretta Lynn. After playing his country hit "Wagon Wheel" (cowritten by Minnesota's own Bob Dylan), Rucker said that he didn't know if he'd ever share a stage with Garth again and, since he was in Minneapolis, well, he felt compelled to play Prince's "Purple Rain."
Rucker did not mention that he will be back in the Twin Cities on Aug. 22 at the Minnesota State Fair with his once and future band, Hootie & the Blowfish.