The show was in-the-round, the stage was flat and Brooks often finished songs with his hands on his knees heaving air. The concert reviews lauded his 31-song performance, but Brooks felt like the audience kicked his butt and handed it to him.
He planned to get in shape before his next stadium show in May 2020, but by mid-March, the country was in the throes of a COVID-19 shutdown. Nearly 18 months later, Brooks finally has his chance.
The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour relaunches July 10 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The tour has grown to include Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Nissan Stadium in Brooks’ adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Tickets for the July 31 Music City show go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster.
“I think the greatest teacher in life is losing,” Brooks said. “I knew we were going to knock them down in Detroit, but my thing was never let them get up. They not only got up, but they got on top of me. I wanted to get right back in the ring. Fast forward a year-and-a-half-later – I’m ready.”
Brooks started his stadium tour March 9, 2019, at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. Until now, the 18 stadiums on the tour averaged 70,000 tickets sold per show. They’ve sold out and set attendance records for either entertainment or overall capacity. More cities will be announced in the coming weeks.
Brooks’ stadium tour is among the first in the U.S. to resume shows. Each concert will be sold at full capacity, but the singer’s manager Bob Doyle explained the team didn’t count on post-COVID-19 sellouts. He described a feeling of hopelessness during the pandemic because most artists have control over their lives, but COVID-19 and its repercussions couldn’t be contained.
“You couldn’t say, ‘This doesn’t affect me’ because it affected everybody,” Doyle said. “It was just one of those moments where all we could do was hunker down and try and be safe.”
Brooks’ team is approaching the tour’s relaunch the same way. Guinness World Records’ most successful country recording artist of all time, Brooks has an internal policy to keep his band and crew healthy. The stadiums will provide masks for concertgoers, and Brooks encourages his fans to be kind to each other and do what they must to feel safe in the environment.
“Somebody has got to take the first step,” said Brooks, whose hits include “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance.” “The thing that’s going to ease your anxiety the most is to know it’s done right. Are these people taken care of when they come in the stadium?”
His fans are ready.
“I think we have all felt so shut down for so long,” explained Andrea Rizk, a 44-year-old Nashville PR consultant who saw Brooks for the first time when she was 13. She plans to buy tickets to his Nissan Stadium show in Nashville when they go on sale Friday.
“I think that standing in a stadium full of people singing the same words to the same songs, and Garth, his energy is so infectious and he attracts an audience that is all colors, creeds, sizes, shapes, everything. I know personally that I am so ready to be in that environment again. Music is such a unifier, and I think as a country we are super desperate for that.”