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King of Country rules S.L.

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Garth Brooks is Mr. Entertainment when it comes to country music.

"My focus is to make each city's show the best I can," the award-winning singer said during a news conference in the Delta Center Thursday. "We don't play seven-year tours because we play all the cities we can in three years."Brooks kicked off a four-night run at the Delta Center later that evening. And by the sound of the sellout audience, it looks as if the reigning King of Country still has what it takes to keep the music playing.

The opening night concert was big, bold and very Garth Brooks. There was nothing he did that the audience didn't like. They ate up all the lyrics, the musicality and experience. In fact, Brooks didn't even have to sing. He just stood there and the audience went wild.

"What's not to like about Garth?" asked Paula, a 25-year-old Roy resident who didn't want to give her last name. "I've been a fan for years."

"Me, too," said Paula's friend Lisa, 18. "But I especially love his voice."

Carol Kalar of Bountiful said she wasn't the typical Garth Brooks fan.

"I'm 51," she said. "I like his music and all, but I'm especially impressed by how down to earth he is. He doesn't seem like he's bent on making money. He has this image of being a person who has values."

"I feel alive when I perform," Brooks said during the press conference. "And I think the closest thing to performing, for me, is holding my three daughters close. In fact, just before I got on the plane for the tour, my oldest, who is 6, came up to me and (wiggled a loose tooth).

"I asked if she wanted me to pull it out before I left, and she said, `Yeah,' " Brooks said. "As I popped the tooth out, a wave of emotions just rushed to my head. I remembered when my daddy did the same thing to me. There's not much that comes close to that feeling, but performing live does."

Brooks' dedication to his family showed through tears as he responded to a question about his ailing mother.

"She's strong," Brooks repeated through chokes. "She's Irish. She's a Brooks."

Still, with the emotions running strong, Brooks managed to compose himself and put on a riotous performance later in the evening. He pulled out the stops and played his hits. Every song the band performed that night had the audience on its feet, singing every word and screaming for more.

Among the songs were "The Fever," "Callin' Baton Rogue," "The Beaches of Cheyenne" and "Two Pina Coladas."

The stage resembled a galactic spaceship landing pad, with its caged-in drum set and a border of risers on which the band members would run around at full speed.

Brooks let the tunes fly and chatted frankly and candidly to the audience, introducing the songs and joking with his band.

The slow blues of "Shameless" teamed well with the anthemic "We Shall Be Free" and the acoustically poignant "Unanswered Prayers" in some of the dynamically powerful segments of the concert. And his duets with opening artist Trisha Yearwood - "In Another's Eyes" and "Walk Away Joe" - were nothing short of perfect.

As for remakes, he played a few, including Don McLean's "American Pie" and Bob Seeger's "Night Moves."

However, as wild as the rocking got, Brooks always brought it down a notch with his humble strutting and yarning.

"I'm still this chubby guy in a hat," Brooks said during the press conference.

And Thursday, Brooks really rocked the country. And there are three nights remaining.