Next year, George Strait is preparing to play his longest stadium run in nine years since completing his two-year “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour in 2014.
The country titan and band Ace in the Hole will perform at six stadiums beginning May 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and ending August 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. All stops will include Chris Stapleton and little big city.
“It was just fine,” says Strait Billboard by email from the mini-tour. “I had the opportunity to work with Chris and little big city and everything sort of fell into place for next year. I don’t do as many shows anymore, so if we can make a stadium where we can play for more people, that works for me.
In 2012, Strait announced that he was not “retiring”, but that “the old days of road warriors were going to be over” after more than 30 years of tour. In 2016 he began an affiliation with the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which has seen him perform several times a year at the venue (Las Vegas dates will be on hiatus for 2023 except December 2 and 3). He’s peppered his schedule with a handful of arena, festival and stadium dates each year, but next year marks his biggest stadium commitment in nearly a decade.
Every year, Strait and Messina Group CEO Louis Messina, who has been promoting Strait concerts for about 30 years, and Messina Group senior vice president Bridget Bauer talk about what’s next, Messina says. “There’s something about him and Chris together that’s magical. They love playing with each other,” Messina continues. “I said, ‘We should do something a little different from what we have. We did one or two stadiums every year, but we said, ‘It’s everything we should do.’ To have him and Chris together and Little Big Town up there, it’s a pretty, pretty amazing sight.
The outing includes stops at stadiums in Seattle and Milwaukee, venues where Strait hasn’t played before, as well as cities where he hasn’t played in a while. Unlike his arena shows, which are often in the round, the stadium stage will be in the end zone with minimal but high-end production, befitting Strait’s low-key presence. “We don’t carry pyro or lasers or shit like that,” Messina says. “There are no dancers. People are there to see George. Strait previously announced two shows at Ft. Worth, Texas’ Dickies Arena for November 18-19.
Stadium tickets will be available through an American Express presale on October 26 and start at $59. Consumer on-sale begins November 4.
The ability to still sell stadiums five decades into his career fills 70-year-old Strait with gratitude. “It’s amazing,” he said. “I have the best fans in the world and I’m glad they still come to hear us play. My whole career has been amazing in that regard. I was lucky to be with a big record label, MCA, and although they don’t listen to me much anymore, country radio has been really good to me for many years and I really enjoy those years .
And Strait has been great for country radio. With iconic songs like “Amarillo by Morning”, “The Chair”, “The Fireman” and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”, his 61 top 10 on Billboardit is Country broadcast the chart are the most of any artist, as are his 100 total entries on the chart. On Hot country songshis 44 No. 1s also set a record, as did his 86 top 10s.
With so much success, Strait’s shows are usually wall-to-wall hits, and as he tries to change the set list, “there are some songs that I think we need to do – I don’t want to throw anything at them. !” ” He’s joking. “I’m kidding, of course, but I just know that when I go to see a certain artist, it’s usually because of certain songs. If I don’t hear them, I’m disappointed.
Like many artists, Strait gained a new appreciation for performing live when he was unable to perform concerts during the pandemic shutdown. “I never took being able to play music for granted, but I certainly didn’t expect something like the pandemic to happen,” he says. “I think we were all scared that we would never play in those arenas or stadiums again; that would be too limited. I love watching football on TV again and seeing people sitting side by side in these huge stadiums. It happened faster than expected. »
While many artists struggle to connect with their fans in a huge stadium, Strait says he’s the complete opposite, and incredibly, he always has butterflies before he hits the stage. “For me, it’s very personal. I can smell every person there. It’s a huge atmosphere. Huge,” he says. “I always get very nervous days or even weeks before. On the day of, I’m not very good at being there, I don’t think. But everything goes away as soon as I go on stage.
Strait has known Stapleton and Little Big Town for years. The lineup played a stadium show in Minneapolis in November 2021 (during a pandemic-postponed concert) and Kansas City last July, but Strait says the dates were less of a test for stadium shows than 2023 that they were just playing with his friends: “They are both super talented artists. I love working with both.”
During the date in Kansas City, Stapleton’s wife, Morgana, asked the couple when they were going to duet together. “They say, ‘We’re going to find something,'” Messina says, although he adds, “George and Chris aren’t the most talkative people in the world when it comes to giving an answer. Although at less when you have Morgane pushing the envelope a bit, it makes things easier instead of asking me I know they enjoy working with each other.
On those dates, Stapleton joined Strait for a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” (a frequent selection on Strait’s setlist) and LBT harmonized with Strait on his hit “You Look So Good in Love”. Strait says “there’s no guarantee we’ll make songs together, [there’s] high probability” that crossover will occur. “If we do, we’ll choose something that works for both of us. Whether or not it’s ‘You Wreck Me’ or something else, you just have to come and see,” he teases.
The last version of Strait was that of 2019 Honky Tonk Time Machine, which was his 27th album to debut at No. 1 on Billboardit is Top Country Albums painting, the most of any artist. While he says he can’t promise he’ll have new music by the time the stadium’s first date rolls around in May, “maybe we could have something new by then.” It’s been a while for me and I’m definitely itchy.
Although the first date isn’t until May, Strait is also keen to get back on stage, as he quotes his own lyrics from a 2011 song to describe his long love affair with his audience. “By the time show time rolls around every night, I’m usually tired of waiting and chomping at the bit,” he says. “‘When I walk through these curtains and see these smiling faces, my feet don’t touch the ground until I come out and get on the bus that brought me here’ – this is from a song I wrote called ‘I’ll Always Remember You.’ This is a true statement.
Strait isn’t ruling out a similar run in 2024. “Whether or not we do it the following year depends on how we all think it went when we’re done with these shows,” he says. “Chris and I haven’t talked about 2024 at this point.” Messina adds that a tour with shows 20 weekends in a row will not be repeated, but a short outing could happen again. “It depends on how he likes it or doesn’t like it,” he says. “The good thing about George Strait is we can do whatever he wants to do.”
George Strait 2023 Tour Dates:
May 6: Glendale, Arizona, State Farm Stadium
June 3: Milwaukee, Wis., American Family Field
June 17: Seattle, Washington, Lumen Field
June 24: Denver, Colorado, Empower Field at Mile High
July 29: Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan Stadium
August 5: Tampa, Florida, Raymond James Stadium