What Stays in Vegas / The Garth Brooks Residency
The Vegas residency is back.
Commonly considered one of the last bastions of sustaining revenue for recording artists, the traditional music tour, for many acts, is quickly losing its practical value as costs skyrocket and more and more tours operate at heavy losses or shut down altogether.
Even for industry giants like Garth Brooks, who’s recent 3-year stadium tour grossed over $230 million, the complications brought about by the covid pandemic and economic downturn have made the always challenging business of touring all-the-more exhausting.
Enter the Las Vegas artist residency, where a single act unpacks and plays the same Vegas venue for months at a time.
Once saddled with the stigma of aging acts grinding out the twilight of their careers in seedy casino venues, the modern-day Las Vegas residency has now become the live performance preference for the likes of Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and U2. The simplified logistics allow for extra lavish sets in state-of-the art venues while their fans are happy to travel to Vegas. The result – a rapidly expanding market that sells over 2 million tickets a week.
And while the crowd-wowing production values not possible on the road certainly add to fan attraction, it should be noted that one of the hottest tickets in town, which takes place at the 100-million-dollar Colosseum at Cesar’s Palace, features no dancers, costume changes, elaborate sets or a single burst of flame. In fact, most of the show revolves around one guy in jeans and his guitar.
But then, this is not Garth’s first rodeo.
In the Fall of 2009, Brooks began his five-year residency at the Wynn Encore Theatre in Las Vegas. Armed with only his Takamine GB7C, the mighty Oklahoman weaved tales of his upbringing with performances of the songs that shaped him - some his own, but mostly from beacons of influence like James Taylor, George Strait, Merle Haggard, Simon and Garfunkel, Don McLean and George Jones. The result was an extraordinarily intimate experience for his audience– a feat he somehow manages in stadiums as well. Garth’s one-man Wynn residency was such a success that it prompted a prime-time TV special.
The premise of this current residency, Garth Brooks / Plus One, consists of a solo / acoustic Brooks kicking things off, as his entire band relaxes nearby. As the evening progresses Garth will then bring out one band member or another to accompany him. He might invite master fiddler Jimmy Mattingly to round-out Garth’s, Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old, or ask his exquisitely talented spouse, Trisha Yearwood to join him for George Jones and Tammy Wynette classic, Golden Rings. One night, Garth summoned his unsuspecting guitarist, Gordon Kennedy, to perform the Eric Clapton classic, Change the World, which Kennedy just so happened to write. Gordon obliged, playing his own Takamine P3NY.
At the outset of this residency Garth vowed that no two shows would be alike and has held fast to that standard. But as unpredictable as the big guy likes to be, one thing is for certain, in every single GB performance, whether with his band in a stadium, or alone (plus one) in a Las Vegas residency, the phenomenal Garth Brooks is going to move you.