Bundled against the Atlantic chill, Garth Brooks stomped and galloped the deck of the USS Enterprise in Norfolk harbor Wednesday night (Nov. 21) like a man born on sea legs. In his second of three weekly “Coast to Coast Live” concerts for CBS-TV, Brooks seemed more at ease on this ocean-going stage than he did in last week’s show at The Forum in Los Angeles.
Performing to an audience made up primarily of sailors — and visibly cold ones at that — Brooks opted for familiar, uptempo numbers, notably “Fever,” his opening piece, “Papa Loved Mama,” “Friends in Low Places” and “Calling Baton Rouge,” the closer for the televised portion of his performance.
Strangely, on the day Scarecrow, his new album, debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s country and top 200 albums charts, Brooks made not a single mention of the CD. While he did perform one song from the album near the end of the show — “When You Come Back To Me Again” — he didn’t identify where it came from.
Pop star Jewel dropped by for two songs — her own “Standing Still” and the Ian Tyson evergreen, “Someday Soon.” Brooks sang along with her on the latter tune. Jewel’s voice seemed tentative and anemic compared to that of Trisha Yearwood, Brooks’ duet partner on last week’s show. But the audience loved her, cheering throughout her performance and peppering the stage around her feet with white sailor hats. She drew further cheers when she picked one up and put it on her head briefly.
Brooks invited the crowd to sing certain verses of “Unanswered Prayers” and “Friends in Low Places” without his help, a ploy that usually makes for good theater. It was less than successful on television, however, since the voices, unamplified by walls, instantly dissolved into the night air.
Flashing his maniacal grin and reaching down to touch as many out-thrust hands as possible, the 39-year-old Brooks appeared to genuinely revel in his audience. “When you come back home again,” he told them, “I hope you are received with all the respect and honor you deserve.”
His performance for the sailors continued after the hour-long television show ended. Next Wednesday’s (Nov. 28) concert will be held in more congenial climes–the beach beside the Convention Center in South Padre Island, Texas.