Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 | 1:57 p.m.
Almost exactly one year to the date, the “King of Country Music” performed in the desert again, this time in the final leg of his farewell tour, “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
In front of a sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd Saturday night, country music legend George Strait arrived onstage to a roaring standing ovation that made it sound like the “12th Man” was rocking the arena for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Strait, the 2013 ACM Entertainer of the Year, made it very apparent that he was rooting for the Denver Broncos — not once, but a few times in between songs.
The elevated stage was once again set at the center of the arena floor with large multiple video screens and microphones at each corner to ensure that he could engage all of his fans, as well as show his appreciation and love for their loyalty in more than 30 years.
Miranda Lambert opened the concert at 8 p.m. with a 60-minute set that included “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “The House That Built Me,” “Over You, “Gunpowder & Lead,” “Me and Charlie Talking,” “Baggage Claim” and “White Liar.” She also returned to the stage later with Strait to perform duets to “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” and “Run.”
Lambert’s set also included “That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round,” “Heart Like Mine,” “More Like Her,” “Famous in a Small Town,” “Better in the Long Run” and “All Kinds of Kinds.” Lambert then graciously introduced the king to the stage to one of many of the evening’s standing ovations.
In his signature black cowboy hat and iconic cowboy attire (blue jeans, a button-up shirt and cowboy boots), he performed single after single in his 30-plus-song setlist that started with hits including “The Fireman,” “Check Yes or No,” “Ocean Front Property,” “Marina del Rey,” “Blame it on Mexico” and “Here for a Good Time.”
Strait also performed and made mention of some songs that were inspired and written by his son, Bubba (George Strait, Jr.), including “Arkansas Dave” and “That’s What Breaking Hearts Do.” Other notable songs with standing ovations and crowd involvement included “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “The Chair,” “I Saw God Today” and “Troubadour.”
Halfway through the concert, in his typical grace and class, Strait took a moment to show his appreciation and honor our military heroes, just as he did a year ago. Partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a combat-wounded war hero and his wife were presented with keys to a new, 100-percent-mortgage-free home (with a pool), along with a new big-screen TV and a year of paid groceries.
Strait, a four-year veteran himself, then went right back into it with the appropriate “Give It Away.” He continued with old favorites such as “80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper,” “Lead On” and then the crowd singing along with “Amarillo by Morning.”
His 2 1/2 hour set also included songs from his new album “Love Is Everything” including “I Got a Car,” “Give It All We Got Tonight” and “I Believe,” a tribute to the victims and families of Newtown, Conn. Also, “A Fire I Can’t Put Out,” “River of Love,” “You Look So Good in Love,” “Drinking Man,” “Fool Hearted Memory,” “I’ll Always Remember You” and “Unwound.”
Strait closed the show with an encore: “Same Kind of Crazy,” the iconic hit “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” a tribute to Johnny Cash with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “The Cowboy Rides Away” — to yet another thunderous and standing ovation from his longtime and loyal fans.
The country legend showed his true class yet again by making sure that he thanked his fans from all four corners of the stage, as well as again thanking his Ace in the Hole band members and Lambert for being a part of his farewell tour (Martina McBride was his opening performer at MGM Grand one year ago).
The cowboy rides away again, but fans will most likely still be hearing from Strait for years to come. And he’ll probably be sticking to singing country music instead of predicting Super Bowl champions.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.