Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 | 7:30 p.m.
It did not take Faith Hill long, just two sentences, to instill a little perspective into the proceedings.
“I’m so excited,” said Hill upon the announcement that her husband, the ever-hatted Tim McGraw, and she would perform at the Venetian Theater from December through April. “This is thrilling for us to be part of this extraordinary experience for this limited time.”
There it is: Limited.
For a couple married for 15 years, the Hill/McGraw “Soul2Soul” engagement is not a long-term commitment. Ten weeks is what’s on the books as the Venetian, in effect, plops a Resistol on a Gondolier by moving the country superstars into the Italian-themed resort.
“The fact that the Venetian has worked around, basically, our kids’ school schedules is a big key,” Hill said during a news conference that was, as expected, partially populated by fans enthusiastically applauding the official announcement of the “Soul2Soul” dates. “For me, that’s the only way I’ll do anything.”
McGraw, seated at her immediate left, nodded and said, “That’s a big key.”
Originally reported in the spring by my colleague, the limitless Robin Leach, “Soul2Soul” opens Dec. 7-8 and runs for 10 weekends ending April 26. Show times are 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $95.50, $175.50, $255.50, $295.50 (fees included) and go on sale to the general public Monday at 10 a.m. at the Venetian-Palazzo box office or at Ticketmaster.com. (Members of McGraw and Hill’s fan “communities,” otherwise known as fan clubs, and the hotel’s Grazie loyalty program can buy tickets beginning Wednesday at 8 a.m.)
McGraw and Hill, collectively and individually, made it clear that the overriding consideration in taking on 10 weekends in Las Vegas was to work around the family’s schedule. The couple have three daughters, two of whom are teenagers one one age 10.
From the theater seats, I remarked to the couple (seated in a most picturesque way on a pearl-colored sofa) that Garth Brooks parachuted in for his shows at Wynn Las Vegas. I asked if Hill and McGraw at all planned to become immersed in the community.
“We’re not going to become immersed in the community because we have three daughters who are in school. We’re pretty immersed in our community and our daughters’ lives, and that’s one of the great things about what the Venetian has done for us and the flexibility they’ve had for us,” McGraw said. “We’re doing 10 weekends through April. We’ll be in and out. We have two girls in high school this year, one girl who is by herself on another campus, so it’s a busy life.”
Hill added, “We’re parachuting in and out, too. It’s not a residency. It’s a moment in time, for our career and for our fans, and also for the Venetian.”
A few more answers to questions after today’s go-round at the Venetian:
The timing of "Soul2Soul's" opening coincides with which Las Vegas rite of winter? The National Finals Rodeo, which bucks out at the Thomas & Mack Center on Dec. 6, the night before Hill and McGraw debut at the Venetian.
When did talks begin to bring "Soul2Soul" to the Venetian? The couple said they started in July, or six months before the cast of "Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular" was informed that their show would close in September.
How does the couple view today’s country music landscape and the Las Vegas entertainment scene? As McGraw said, “We’ve been doing this a long time — our first single was released 20 years ago, so we’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s a different world, not only for country music, but for music in general, and for Vegas. It’s not the same Vegas that it used to be as far as entertainment goes. I think that it’s a place that, in the peak of your career, you can do things like this and sort of do a different show than when you go out and do a full-on tour.”
How long has it been since McGraw and Hill appeared onstage together? Six years, since the end of their 2006-08 “Soul2Soul II” tour ended. According to Pollstar, that tour remains the highest-grossing North American tour in country music history.
What is the live show at the Venetian going to look like? Not sure. “We’re in the process of building the show now, but we can say that the production is going to be very cutting edge, we’re going to be doing a lot of really cool stuff that certainly we haven’t done before and probably some things that haven’t been done before in a lot of ways.
Is there a conscious effort to counter Garth Brooks’ acoustic, minimalist show at Wynn Las Vegas with a big production? Not consciously, as McGraw said, “We’re not trying to counterbalance anything Garth is doing, or anybody else is doing. We’re just trying to build our show the best we can and present it in a way that fits the environment.”
Hill and McGraw have inherited a $40 million theater built for “Phantom.” There was vague talk of renovating the 1,815-seat venue, but what about the $5 million chandelier built for the show? It’s staying in its fixed position.
The couple have sold more than 70 million albums between them and won eight Grammys. How are they going to divide up their set list? As Hill said, laughing, “That’s a question for him. He has 500 No. 1s.” McGraw said, “To me, this is another reason, other than a chance to design something in a way we have not done in the past, to do this. We can be creative in a way we have not experienced together. A few of the songs we’ve recorded individually, but will be integrated in duet form.”
What are the couple’s expectations for this run? From Hill: “It’s a beautiful and incredible opportunity. The ‘Soul2Soul’ tours we’ve done have been some of the most memorable experiences for all of us. We talk about them all of the time. This feels like it’s one of those moments in time.” From McGraw: “When we look at our careers, we look at it as kind of three different careers. We have my career, Faith’s career and our career together. … For us, this is really our ‘Soul2Soul’ act, us together. That’s what this whole show is about. That’s what the planning of the show is about. That’s what the negotiations of the show have been about. That’s what the production of the show is about, and that’s what the theme of the show is about.”