SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 5, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Country superstar Garth Brooks is facing a tough decision. He has to decide, and relatively soon, on whether or not to continue with his red-hot stadium tour, or to postpone or cancel it, now that the number of COVID-19 cases is spiking dramatically across the country.
If Brooks and his team do end up pulling the plug, it means his epic sold-out stadium show in Salt Lake City last month may have been among his last. If indeed it proves to be a bit of swan song, it is one that local music fans will cherish for years to come.
Brooks played to a crowd of more than 50,000 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium on July 17 in the city’s first mass live music venue since the pandemic began. The show, which sold out in 30 minutes, made Ticketmaster history.
Brooks told reporters at a pre-concert press conference he lamented not adding a second show in Salt Lake City when he realized how many Utah fans were eager to see him. Part way through the actual performance, a visibly moved Brooks said he would like to play another date at Rice-Eccles in 2022.
The odds of that happening are now uncertain.
Brooks’ team said in a statement: “The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour is scheduled to play Kansas City, Missouri on Aug. 7 and Lincoln, Nebraska on Aug. 14. Following Nebraska, the Garth Brooks Stadium Tour will have a three-week window without a concert scheduled in which the tour will assess where the remainder of the dates this year stand due to the resurgence of the COVID virus.”
The statement went on to say: “Although Seattle is the first city back after that three weeks, we still don’t know what is going to happen to concerts at this point… therefore, until we are sure we can play the date, we will not be going forward with the Seattle on sale.”
Brooks said: “It breaks my heart to see city after city go on sale and then have to ask those sweet people and the venues to reschedule. We have a three week window coming up where we, as a group, will assess the remainder of the stadium tour this year. It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist, and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”
He said on his Facebook Live series “Inside Studio G” earlier this week, “It’s getting real sticky out there.” He added of wearing masks: “Follow all the rules. Make your own rules up, too. Nobody is going to look at you strange, I promise. You can’t be safe enough.”
Brooks and his family are no strangers to COVID-19
Wife, Trisha Yearwood tested positive for the disease in March 2021, losing her ability to taste and smell. Garth managed to avoid the infection and was her caregiver throughout the ordeal. Now, he and Trisha are both vaccinated, something Yearwood referred to as a “gift from God” on her Instagram page
Band members, roadies and the production team are also vaccinated, and have all agreed to abide by Centers of Disease Control recommendations, including guidelines on when to wear masks, and when to take part in social distancing.
Brooks’ team also strives to adhere to local health mandates, including those newly recommended in the fight against the delta variant. It was announced this week that the 70,000 fans who attend the show at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Saturday Aug. 7, — whether they are vaccinated or not — must wear masks and social distance in all enclosed areas, including concession stands.
Brooks spoke to reporters in Salt Lake City about the strain of not being able to perform during the pandemic and how it’s made them all the more determined to stay safe and help make COVID-19 something that no longer rules our lives.
“It was tough,” he said. “But in our world, tough is nothing compared to what it was to a lot of people. But because of Facebook Live and CBS, we got to play music, me and Miss Yearwood did. People come up to you and say ‘thank you for what you’ve done during this time.’ It’s the other way round. I got to play music, right? That’s the greatest thing. The only thing bad was we didn’t get to play it in front of people.”
Brooks said that when he started the first show of the stadium tour in Las Vegas in July, “Then you realize what you’ve missed, because you get to hear THEM sing. They say ignorance is bliss, right? So for me, I didn’t know how much I missed it, until you get to hear those voices, you get to see that face. And I don’t think it was for Garth Brooks, I think it was the joy of being together. Because as people, I think that’s what we are supposed to do, is to be together.”
For the latest information on Brooks’ tour, click here.
To read my review of Brooks’ Rice-Eccles performance, click here.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.