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Old Dog, New Tricks: Garth Brooks Proves He’s Still a Man on Top in Houston

Garth Brooks claims he’s “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” but at 53, he seems to feel younger than ever. The country superstar brought his familiar smile to celebrate his return to the stage — and America’s Birthday Eve — in Houston on Friday night (July 3), promising early to deliver what most fans filling the Toyota Center came for: the hits.

“People, I’m gonna need some help to get through this weekend,” Brooks told the crowd upon the kickoff of his fifth Space City show in a week, “so you’re gonna have to pick my big a– up!”

He didn’t need any help, after all. In fact, if it were possible to bottle this singer’s energy like Starbucks in stores, the drinks would fly off the shelves faster than tickets sold out for his eight Houston concerts.

“The Dance,” “Two Pina Coladas,” “The Beaches of Cheyenne,” “Unanswered Prayers,” “That Summer” … the star pulled from the entirety of his multi-decade-spanning catalog, not giving fans a second to sit down and catch their breath as he raced from one side of the stage to another, making sure every fan staring back at him was having the best possible time.

He had jokes, too: “Come on, I use this to hide my gut,” Brooks responded to the screams after he grabbed an acoustic guitar. “They do let me turn it on for one song,” he mused, leading in to “Friends in Low Places.”

For the one new song he played, “People Loving People,” Brooks kindly showed the lyrics on the jumbotron, so everyone could sing along, even if they haven’t kept up with him lately. Even those fueled solely by nostalgia obliged. “It’s about people loving people, man,” the singer declared as he led what can only be described as the Church of Garth — an arena full of people hanging on his every word, praising him at every opportunity.

Mid-show, the singer introduced wife Trisha Yearwood, who offered a toned-down, but jaw-dropping set inside of the two hours and twenty minutes of Garth hysteria. Songs like her new one, “PrizeFighter,” were powerful (the song is about overcoming obstacles and calls special attention to breast cancer survivors), while “She’s in Love With the Boy” had couples in the room locking lips when caught on the ‘kiss cam.’ Yearwood and Brooks locked lips, too, with her husband lingering for an unexpectedly long time, which really had rowdy fans excited.

As it was the eve of the Fourth of July, Brooks took a moment to honor America, instructing the audience to “Take your kids and bow your heads and thank God for the freedoms we enjoy!”

“It’s those children that you have to instill that in,” he added.

Perhaps country music’s top entertainer, Brooks charmed Houstonians as a group— “Last weekend was just the warmup! This is the big show!” — but in the end, made each person feel as if they’d just witnessed a private Garth Brooks show, tailor-made for them. Noting that Texas has always been one of his best markets (the double weekend of shows were Brooks first in the state in nearly 20 years), the legend thanked ticket buyers for “always letting me be me,” thumping his chest before launching into a four song encore. Four songs!

The only thing hotter than Brooks’ fired-up Friday night performance was the fact that the venue, home of the Houston Rockets, didn’t seem to have enough air circulating to accommodate the thousands in attendance. The singer left the stage drenched in sweat — with a massive grin on his face — tipping his big black cowboy hat on the way out. An hour later, he would do it all again for the late-night crowd.

You Think You Know Garth Brooks?

NEXT: See All of Garth Brooks' Tour Dates

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