Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.
Country king Garth Brooks had tears in his eyes moments after the curtain came down on his three-year run at Encore Theater in the Wynn early this morning. I talked with him shortly after he stood center stage with his wife, singer Trisha Yearwood. They hugged, kissed, held hands and wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders for support, but Garth didn’t actually say goodbye.
“It wasn’t the best show over the three years because I was too emotional,” he confessed at the start of the nearly 2 a.m. wrap party at chef David Walzog’s nearby Lakeside Grill. “I was getting ready to go out there and kick some ass, and then Steve [Wynn] did an introduction, and I was toast after that.
“It wasn’t phenomenal because I cried a little after that, but one of the best shows I ever had was the early one tonight, the show right before. I went out there just to do it. The sound was perfect; it went really well. I was hoping to do it again with the second show, but brother Wynn screwed that up with his introduction!”
As Garth waited to start the last show at the side of the stage out of sight, Steve said: “This is Garth’s 184th at Encore Theater. Tonight is going to tug at your heart. Garth has become family. Over the past three years, he has played to 300,000 people, and every one of them will swear on a stack of Bibles it’s an experience they will never forget. You are in for the greatest treat.
“When we first met, he had one thing in mind; I had another thing in mind. He wanted to do his charity for kids at the hotel, and I wanted to talk him out of retirement and come back singing. I got my opening while we were on the outdoor terrace at SW Steakhouse. I told him he was going to get a great steak. I told the waiter to bring him the risotto with the black truffles. My opening came when Garth asked, ‘What’s risotto?’ My answer was, ‘Brother Brooks, you’ve been on the farm too long. Time to come on out before you forget the words to your songs.’
“I told him we’d spend a fortune on sets. I promised the best wardrobe, not setting any budget. I’d give him the greatest designers and backup singers, plus, he could have a big orchestra. I even told him we’d get him a jet plane so he could be back every Saturday for the girls’ soccer games.
He said, ‘I got the backup singer covered. I’ll take care of the set and the band. But you will take care of the jet.” Garth has performed his solo show over the run on a bare stage, just his guitar and jeans and a hoodie or a black shirt and a black T-shirt. Nothing changed last night!
The final magical and memorable show started at 10:41 p.m. and ended today at 12:23 a.m. During the nearly two hours, Garth sang the hits of his favorite singers he said influenced and shaped his life -- and then sang his hits. It was standing ovations every time. Trisha was onstage for two duets and again as the curtain came down and Garth waved as they walked offstage hugging each another.
In our exclusive interview, Garth told me, “I’d like to come back here one more time and film the show. It’s very sweet of Steve to say I can come back any time I want. I’ll take him up on it. This room is the greatest on the planet.
“I don’t know how I really felt about the night. You know me better than anybody. This show is so me. I don’t feel any different than when I first got here. The show is a ball. It’s changed, it’s changed the way I’ve changed over the three years: subtlely. I wouldn’t have felt anything if Steve hadn’t made that introduction. Then I got way too emotional.”
Garth Brooks and Steve Wynn in 2009
In my interview with Steve, he revealed that he’s called Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese to stage the TV shoot of Garth’s solo show. He also revealed that Garth will resume touring in late 2014.
Garth was a little more secretive about both: “It would be amazing if it works out with Scorsese. I’m not confirming or denying that. For now, our job is to let the kids finish high school, get their education, then we’ll see what we’re going to do. We still have junior in high school, so there’s a couple of years to finish there, and then we’ll see if there’s a place for us back in the industry. It’s what I told you a year ago. All that matters is that the kids are healthy.
“We’ve got one going to my alma mater. The other is going to the other university, so the house is split. The third one wants to do a music college.”
Trisha cut in: “I was here to support my man. Las Vegas has become a home. Every night we’ve been here, I’ve always said, ‘Enjoy this moment,’ because you just don’t get to sing in a room like that.”
Garth continued: “For me as a performer, anyone who wants to hear Garth music anywhere, I’m home. The difference between here and everywhere else is this is a pretty damn nice home. The sound is simply fantastic.”
I asked Trisha why she’d backed out on her plans to prank him on the last show, possibly going onstage as Barbra Streisand. She laughed: “I’ll probably get to prank him later after a few drinks, a bottle of wine. I thought he’d have a hard enough time as it was. He’s so cool, but he’s emotional.”
Steve told me about Garth’s future plans: “He’ll do the TV show. He asked if he could do it live at the Wynn. I immediately said yes and suggested Martin Scorsese direct it. I called Marty -- he said he’d love to do it, when does he want to do it? I asked Garth that this weekend, and he said, ‘As soon as possible.’ So, I will get on the phone with Marty this week, and it will all get put together soon.
“There will always be a place here for Garth. We have become brothers. He might well get the urge to come back and sing here. He’ll just call out of the blue, saying, ‘I feel like singing again.’ It’s always been up to him. Originally, we thought five years -- that was how long before the last kid went off to college. He’d made this pledge that he wouldn’t work for the next five years. I said, ‘If you have a jet, you can do both -- work here and still be home.’ It was always potentially five years.
“We always had the understanding that if it ever proved uncomfortable, he could opt out. The only condition was that he had to finish any shows that he’d asked me to sell the tickets. We did away with Sunday shows and did two on Friday and two on Saturdays, so he was only away one night. But this summer, it became apparent he wanted to spend more time with his youngest on weekends before going off to college next year.
“He called me on the boat this summer. He wanted to think about 2013 and promised to make up his mind by October because tickets for 2013 would have to go on sale. We had sold tickets through November, but not into next year. He said he’d begun thinking of performing again in August 2014 when she goes off to college. So a year from August, he’ll go out with a tour that will take six months to put together. In September, he asked me if I minded, and we agreed. It has been a fantastic three years and a great deal for both of us. We’re both even with each other.”
Steve went on to tell me details of his new show “Funhouse” that will open next winter in Encore Theater, replacing Garth. “It’s not a revue, it’s not Cirque. It’s an entirely new idea,” he said. “We will under promise and over deliver. Things start as one thing but become another. What things appear to be actually aren’t. Ten minutes into the show, the audience will be wondering what else is possible.”
You can read my full interview with Steve right here at Vegas DeLuxe on Monday. You also can read Tuesday the secrets his wife Andrea told me about her new restaurant Andrea’s opening in the former Twist space at Encore for New Year’s.
Among the guests at Steve’s wrap party for Garth: master musician Quincy Jones, singer-songwriter Paul Anka, magicians Criss Angel and Nathan Burton, Black Eyed Peas star Taboo, Keep Memory Alive chief Larry Ruvo with wife Camille and former IGT Chairman Chuck Mathewson.
I stayed at the party until 3 a.m. Garth, Trisha and guests were still going strong and working their way through a 10-course mainly vegan and vegetarian dinner. Garth’s steak and risotto were prepared by chef David to remind of the dinner meeting where Garth’s return to the stage had all begun.
I’ll have my review of Saturday’s final show Monday, but suffice to say, it was a stunning performance that the last 1,500 of us to join Club Garth at the Wynn will never forget.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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