As early as 1992, just three years into his skyrocketing career, Garth Brooks began publicly mulling retirement from the music business. The subject continued to come up frequently, though few believed anyone that successful could walk away from it all.
Garth did, in fact, go into hibernation following the release of an album in 2001, but many observers figured he would find a way to return to the spotlight. Periodically, he would emerge to promote a new compilation project or to do a charity gig, but he finally went back to performing regularly in December when he kicked off a scaled-down concert format in a surprisingly loose deal with Wynn Las Vegas. Garth essentially delivers a one-man show for 15 weekends annually over a five-year period, at which time he’s likely to begin touring once again. If either Garth or casino owner Steve Wynn is disenchanted with the arrangement, either is able to back out.
As he’s done through the years in acoustic settings, Garth is fueling these performances with his own songs as well as music by some of the artists who inspired him. And in that spirit, he kicked off the first show with Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” He naturally got around to “Friends In Low Places,” “The Dance” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” among others. And he brought out wife Trisha Yearwood for a collaboration on “Walkaway Joe.”
Meanwhile, no matter how hard Garth works to present himself as just a common man, his form of transportation between Vegas and Oklahoma only underscores his place in entertainment’s pecking order: He really is a member of the jet set.