Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 2 a.m.
On the eve of his first Stadium Tour concert since early 2020 and the first max-capacity event at the dramatic new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Garth Brooks joked about setting lower expectations for one of the most anticipated live entertainment events in the city’s history.
“It’s gonna be a train wreck, I’m sure. It has to be, right? Because we haven’t done this,” he said during a press conference on Friday at Allegiant. “But the great thing about a Garth Brooks audience, I’ll put ‘em up against anybody, they’ll allow that train wreck as long as they see you’re trying.”
Considering how long the country music megastar’s band, crew and fans have waited for the tour to resume and specifically for this night at this venue, there’s virtually no chance of that train wreck taking place. Brooks performs with no opening act at 7 p.m. tonight at the place he called “the Death Star,” the fitting nickname for the somewhat imposing home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I have to thank the people at Allegiant here for being so sweet and taking that first step, because somebody had to, that first step at full capacity,” he said. “And if you gotta pick a place … this place is amazing. Not a bad seat in the house. You walk out there and feel like something special is going on.
“This place is more famous than anybody who is gonna play it, and no offense to anyone who’s playing it, but that is what you want to do. We’ve been lucky enough [on the Stadium Tour] to play places like this, or Yankee Stadium, places where your name is smaller than the place you play.”
Tonight’s event was originally scheduled to be the first major event at the stadium in August 2020, paving the way for the Raiders’ first season of NFL football in Las Vegas. All 65,000 tickets sold out in under two hours. After the pandemic caused a rescheduling, electronic music artist Illenium instead broke in the stadium last week with a sold-out dance party of a concert attracting 35,000 fans.
The next stadium event is the August 1 Concacaf Gold Cup soccer final before the Raiders and Seahawks go at it in a preseason game on August 14. The next scheduled concert at Allegiant will be Guns N’ Roses on August 27.
Brooks, a record-breaking artist by all measures who recently received the Kennedy Center Honor and Pollstar’s Country Touring Artist of the Decade award, last performed in front of a live audience at Ford Field in Detroit, gathering a crowd of more than 74,000. He said he’s made some changes to the Stadium Tour stage setup since then in order to maximize the audience experience, and he’s hoping those changes will help create a memorable experience tonight for a crowd that’s expected to be closer to 70,000 thanks to additional seating on the field.
“The greatest night of my career live-wise was in Denver earlier in the 2019 tour. It was one of those things where I was out-of-body, just watching the band and the people go back and forth. It was great and everybody won,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping happens here. If I could pick the best show I ever wanna have, it’s this one that’s going to kick off the remainder of the stadium shows. So I’m putting a lot of pressure on Vegas. If you’re coming, bring your helmet and know your Garth stuff, because I want to hear this place sing.”
Brooks performed one of the most acclaimed musical residency shows in Las Vegas Strip history at Wynn’s Encore Theater from 2009 to 2014, storyteller-style concerts that presented his music and personality in a very intimate, one-man-show production — except when his superstar wife Trisha Yearwood joined him onstage.
“I would love to do the Wynn gig again. That was fun. You got to show up in jeans and it was almost like doing soundcheck,” Brooks said. “You can tell the old stories, and the sad thing was you told on yourself too much. We’d have the publicist going, ‘You really don’t want to tell that story again.’ But it was fun and real relaxed and I’d love to do that if that opportunity comes to me.
“Try to remember, I’m married to one of the greatest performers ever. She has kind of given me this space to run, so we need to see what she wants to do and what makes her happy. I hate to sound so whipped but I could be Mr. Yearwood for the rest of my life, she’s that important. So we’ll see, but I would love it.”