By Bobbie Katz
Contrary to the title of one of his biggest hits, Garth Brooks does have friends in high places.
In this case, they are the folks at MGM Resorts International and AEG Live, joint partners in the upcoming 20,000-seat multi-tiered T-Mobile Arena, where Garth will be raising the bar – and the roof – on Las Vegas entertainment June 24-July 4 with a Vegas-only show that won’t be able to be seen anywhere else. Add to that high-end premium seating, a seven-story atrium, and outdoor balconies and one can see why Garth feels that the sky’s the limit where this venue is concerned.
“For 14 months, I’ve been frustrated because there are things I want to do in Vegas that aren’t humanly possible,” the artist told a group of media dressed in hard hats, goggles, and safety vests at a recent press conference in the still under -construction venue. “We’re in the business of entertainment and we’d better be thinking of some ideas for entertainment that people have never seen. I want to do here, then disappear; then do here, then disappear. But, guess what? We’re in Vegas and anything is possible. We can take shows to a level that we’ve always dreamed of. I hope that, once here, we will lead. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
“This is a win-win situation,” he continued. “This show will be Vegasized and will be a much bigger show and I want it to be one-of-a-kind. The purpose of this show is to unify the people who have allowed me to be an artist. From playing Thomas and Mack and the Wynn, we understand the market here. It’s one of the best places to play in the whole world. And how cool would it be to have the whole world come here? It would be Garth fans united all over the world to make this an epic event and truly historic.”
That said, Garth emphasized the point that audiences will hear old stuff and new stuff but they are going to hear Garth – he said that he never wants to push that aside; that will always be front and center. However, the show will be in direct contrast to the one he performed at Wynn in which he was alone on stage with his guitar (and a few songs sung by his wife, country star Trisha Yearwood). He took that gig after being away from the performing arena for two years, vowing not to tour again until his last daughter was ready to leave the nest and go to college. I asked him how what he took from that experience will play into this show.
“Don’t tell Steve Wynn but that was the easiest gig I ever had; I don’t even think I was worth it,” he answered me, teasing. “I wanted you to think I was great – it really paid me. But it gave me confidence as a father that until my babies went to college, maybe someone would show up. I know that sounds very simple but I was scared to death. Now this is a 20,000-seat arena. But Chicago, where I started my new world tour, solved that for us. I’m very humble and flattered that the numbers are this way. In the 90s, I thought that I had a pretty good gig. It took us three years to sell five million tickets. We’re 14 months into this tour and we’re approaching three-and-a-half million.
While it might be hard to imagine the world’s number one solo recording artist being afraid that no one will show up at his concerts, the truth is that’s what keeps Garth Brooks so down-to-earth.
“This is a business that might be the most humbling business there is,” he added. “It’s here today, gone tomorrow and I have been very thankful just to get to be here. But if I’m gone tomorrow, I have the health of my children and the love of my life. This late in my career, to have a tour and things going on right now that’s working like in your heyday and to have things like this coming up in your life after all these years that are epic and still out front makes me very humble and very thankful.”
While he said that he will definitely be bringing his 2016 world tour through Vegas, Garth also stated that if you see that show and then see the Vegas-only show two weeks later, you will see no similarities – he re-emphasized that you have to come to Vegas to see the Vegas-only show. While noting that Las Vegas is one of the great cities for country music and saying that he is a huge fan of Reba McEntire, he acknowledged that will be calling on other Vegas entertainers, and not necessarily just singers, to be part of the show.
After the press conference, I had the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions one-on-one (as my hard hat was falling down over my eyes and he laughed. I wanted to know how he was able to balance his massive career with being a man so devoted to his children and family.
“In the 90s, my concern was who is raising my children,” he responded with a smile. “So I had to step away and raise my kids. Now my concern is that my three kids are healthy – they are in college and text a lot. They’re on their own journey. Now I’m with the love of my life and can travel and play music so forgive me if I’m not feeling any guilt. You never know – it comes and it goes and you can never take anything for granted. You and me have seen people we think are the most talented people in the world that disappear.
“The Wynn was sweet,” he summed up. “People showed up but that was a 1,500-seat theater. When you step into a 17,000-seat theater like Chicago, how many shows later, it’s been very sweet, very humbling, and a wonderful surprise.”
And there are still “no fences.”
This article appears courtesy of Vegas Insider Daily.com.