Garth Brooks Encourages 'Patience' and Being 'Over-the-Top Careful' as Concerts Return amid Pandemic
Garth Brooks delayed his sold-out Nissan Stadium show in Nashville over the weekend due to dangerous, persistent thunderstorms. Still, he remains cautiously optimistic for the rest of his tour as the live music industry faces the unknowns of COVID-19's delta variant.
"Every day, the reports we get change because it's the first time anyone has been through it," Brooks, 59, said. "What I'd love to see all of us do is have the patience to read those changes instead of jump on them and use them for our argument. We should see where this thing's going."
Brooks compared the fight against COVID-19 to war and said the virus is "very smart."
"You have to divide the enemy to defeat them, and this virus has us divided," he said. "My thing is just patience. You have to listen and be over-the-top careful. Hopefully, you'll never regret that."
Last week, Brooks made headlines when Kansas City Chiefs president Mark Donovan revealed a COVID-19 vaccination clinic would be held at Arrowhead Stadium on Aug. 7 – the day of Brooks' sold-out show. The singer admits the clinic wasn't his idea and instead gives credit to the state.
"Wow, good for them," he said. "I hope it works."
Brooks' stadium tour was the first of its size to launch this summer as live music started to make a comeback. The singer, the top-selling solo artist of all time, kicked off the 2021 leg of his The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour on July 10 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Since then, the tour has grown to include sold-out stadium shows in Salt Lake City, Nashville, Kansas City, Lincoln, Nebraska and Cincinnati, with each show averaging well over 70,000 tickets sold.
USA Today reported the feat was accomplished through careful long-range planning that Brooks credits to his longtime tour promoter, Ben Farrell. When booking Brooks' tours, Farrell holds Brooks' dates and venues for upwards of three years. As shows canceled during the pandemic, Farrell wedged rescheduled concerts into Brooks' remaining dates to keep the singer's tour on schedule. Brooks kept his staff employed while they were off the road, which made restarting his gargantuan tour feasible.
Brooks and his team are fully vaccinated, and he has internal guidelines to keep his band and crew safe from the virus. He follows the rules set by the state in which he plays for audience protocols. The singer often plays a video before his concerts asking people to be respectful of those wearing masks – and those who aren't.
"My wish is … we do everything safe so [fans] can enjoy [the show] and not sit in the stands and be scared," he said. "We're all coming down from this at our own speed. I hope people can come [to a concert] and let it all go."
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(Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are rare, but possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99% — are in unvaccinated people.)
Given the nationwide increase in infections, Brooks doesn't know if his tour will be able to stay on track in 2021. However, his job is to gather people in large numbers. If that, again, becomes a danger to the health of his fans, he said he'll "stand down again."
"As much as I would hate to do it, it'd be an honor because you feel like you're doing your part," Brooks said. "We were lucky enough to survive last year. We'll pull together and survive this year if everything shuts down [again]."
Though Brooks is proud of both his tour and his team, the singer isn't looking for accolades.
Awards season is approaching, and while entertainers are angling for votes, Brooks hopes he's removed from consideration for all trophies. His tour is setting ticket sales records at every stadium he plays. But after more than three decades in the music business, Brooks believes it's time to focus that type of spotlight on country music's current trailblazers.
"We're very fortunate," Brooks said. "If the tour ends in the summer of '22… with the gig that I've been praying and hoping for for the last five years, then it will be the biggest day of our career. I want to see this next wave come up."
"You know how I feel about guys like Luke Combs and how hard he's working to keep traditional country music, and you love to see him have a great night," he added. "Ashley McBryde and these young people, I just adore them."
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