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Fargo Concert Review: Brooks a force of nature
Monday, September 21, 1998. Fargo Forum
Story by Story by Ross Raihala

The Godzilla of country music stomped through town one last time Sunday night, breathing fire over thousands of fans in the Fargodome.

If nothing else, the evening proved once again that Garth Brooks knows his way around a stadium.

"Sundays in Fargo kick some ass, I'll tell you that," he bellowed at one point to a building transformed for the weekend into the world's largest honky tonk bar.

Throughout the evening - the last of a trio of dome shows that attracted approximately 75,000 people - Brooks assured the audience that they weren't at a third-rate show. And by and large, he delivered.

Clad in standard-issue Wranglers, two-tone shirt and black cowboy hat, Brooks sprinted up and down the stage and belted the hits all the way up to the nosebleed seats.

Brooks and his music have become so ubiquitous that even non-fans have undoubtedly heard the likes of "Friends in Low Places," "The Thunder Rolls" and "Two Pina Coladas."

Even after lesser-known songs, the crowd roared like a 747 while the teen-age girls down front waved their hands and grabbed at Brooks as if he were Hanson, the Backstreet Boys and Leonardo Dicaprio morphed into one body.

Brooks never missed an opportunity to bask in the glory. Seemingly after every song, the spotlights turned to the crowd as they whooped and hollered themselves hoarse. Brooks played the "aw shucks, all that for little old me?" bit to the hilt, often tipping his hat and, presumably, looking for a random clod of dirt to kick.

But he also displayed the savvy marketing skills that have helped him sell more than 80 million records. He went out of his way to equally grace every section of the dome with hammy crowd-baiting tactics, all the while dropping the names of his seven studio records to reinforce brand loyalty.

At one point, Brooks played a brief solo acoustic version of Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love." Free from the bombast and polished perfection of the bulk of the concert, it was a welcome and frankly unexpected moment.

Brooks surely leaves Fargo implanted with tens of thousands of fond memories. He's a force of nature the likes of which we won't see again. That is until the next time Godzilla ambles on through town.

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