When Garth Brooks came out of retirement for the tour that brought him to New Orleans to play four shows in three nights at the Smoothie King Center, it was at the suggestion of his wife, country singer Trisha Yearwood.
“Well, hell, yeah, I would,” he responded. “But what if nobody shows up?”
That hasn’t been a problem. Brooks’ current tour started last September in Chicago, where he sold out 12 shows in the Allstate Arena. Throughout the tour, he has sold out arenas for multiple nights, sometimes playing two shows a night, as he will Saturday in New Orleans.
Brooks was one of the biggest draws in popular music, not just country, when he walked away from the business in 2001 to raise his three daughters. He didn’t disappear from public view entirely, releasing “The Limited Series” box set in 2005, and playing a few benefit shows until he started a four-year run of solo shows in Las Vegas in 2009.
The current tour, however, is the first with a full band in more than a decade from the singer who first brought arena rock to country music.
Friday afternoon at a press conference, Brooks explained that he does multiple shows in an arena instead of one in a stadium to make each show as intimate as possible. Because many fans will see more than one show, “it pushes you to make each show different,” he said.
Still, the shows can be only so varied.
“There are songs you cannot get out of here without playing,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to have a pretty good list of those songs.”
Brooks spoke with excitement about playing New Orleans, where he has never performed before. Nearby Baton Rouge is close to his heart because it’s the subject of his song, “Calling Baton Rouge.”
Although Brooks loves the song, he forgot the lyrics during one of his recent shows in Houston. “I’m singing the chorus to the verse melody, and people are looking at me because they’re singing the right words,” he said.
Trisha Yearwood joined Brooks at the news conference. She has developed a second career as a Food Network star, hosting the show “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” but she’s taken a break from her shooting schedule to tour with him.
The two sing a duet each night, and she sings a short set in the middle of his show.
The two bantered throughout the press conference, and she remembered how earlier in the week, she made sweet potato burgers from her new cookbook “Trisha’s Table” but forgot the sweet potatoes.
“This is going to haunt me,” she joked. “This is the guy who makes a sandwich and takes a picture of it.”